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New England Conservatory Mourns Death of President Daniel Steiner


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June 12, 2006

New England Conservatory Mourns Death of President Daniel Steiner

First Non-Musician to Lead Conservatory, Steiner Set School on Path to Greatness

Boston, MA--Daniel Steiner, President of New England Conservatory, died Sunday at Beth Israel Hospital, succumbing to complications of chronic lung disease. He was 72. The first non-musician to head NEC, he was a passionate music lover who applied his legal expertise and extensive experience in higher education to make the Conservatory one of the premier music schools in the world.

He leaves his wife of 46 years, Prudence Linder Steiner, as well as their children, Elizabeth and Michael Hayward of Oregon and Joshua L. Steiner and Antoinette Delruelle of New York City, and five grandchildren. Funeral services will take place tomorrow (Tuesday, June 13) at 11:30 a.m. at Levine Chapel, 470 Harvard St. Brookline, MA.

Because of his deteriorating health, Steiner had announced last September his intention to retire from NEC at the end of the current school year or as soon as a new president could take over --whichever came first. NEC is currently conducting the search for his successor. Steiner was recognized with an honorary doctorate presented at the annual Commencement Exercises, May 21.

A Conservatory at the top of its Field

Having served seven years, President Steiner was well on his way to achieving the goal he had set for himself -making NEC a school at the top of its field like Harvard or MIT. During his tenure, NEC added renowned artist teachers to its highly respected faculty, including Donald Weilerstein, Paul Katz, Kim Kashkashian, Martha Strongin Katz, Bruce Brubaker, Vivian Hornik Weilerstein, John Greer, Joseph Silverstein, James MacDonald, Dave Holland, Steve Lacy, and Paula Robison. Attracted by the newly enhanced faculty, students began applying to NEC in record numbers -with applications up 70% over the years of Steiner's tenure. Steiner recognized the importance of scholarship support for gifted students and inaugurated a $100 million capital campaign, which was announced in 2003 and had raised $72 million at the time of his death.

Prize-winning Chamber Music Ensembles

Under Steiner's leadership, NEC became the preeminent school for string training and chamber music coaching. Gifted young string players came to study with important studio teachers and also to work with some of the world's finest chamber musicians. In particular, Steiner established a Professional String Quartet Training Program under the direction of Paul Katz, founding cellist of the Cleveland Quartet, and a Professional Piano Trio Training Program under the Vivian Hornik Weilerstein. These programs, plus the faculty presence of many other superb chamber musicians like Lucy Chapman (Stoltzman), created a particularly fertile climate for chamber music. As a result, numerous stellar ensembles nurtured at NEC went on to win major national and international competitions. Among these groups are the Jupiter, Parker, Ariel, Biava and Kuss String Quartets.

Broad Experience in Higher Education at Harvard

Steiner became president of New England Conservatory in June 2000, after serving for a year as acting president. For the previous three decades, his career had focused on higher education. He was general counsel and then vice president and general counsel at Harvard University from 1970 to 1992 and was an adjunct lecturer in public policy at the Kennedy School of Government from 1993 to 1996. As general counsel, he was responsible for all of Harvard's legal affairs and assumed management responsibilities at various times for the security, human resources, real estate, and international departments. He was the author of several articles on individual and institutional ethics, and in 1997-98, he co-chaired the American Medical Association Task Force on Association/Corporate Relations.

An active supporter of Boston and Cambridge civic and cultural life, Steiner chaired the Mind/Body Medical Institute and was a director (and former chair) of Boston Baroque, WGBH, Cambridge Community Foundation, and Cambridge Trust Company. He was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Steiner's affiliation with NEC began in 1994 when he received an invitation to become an overseer from fellow attorney and overseer Susan Shapiro, one of his colleagues at Ropes & Gray where he worked from 1992-99. He joined the Board of Trustees in 1995, and served on and chaired many board committees. Among these were the Admissions and Financial Aid Visiting Committee, the Presidential Search Committee, and the Faculty Development Committee.

A native of New York City, Steiner received his education from Harvard University, graduating magna cum laude in 1954 from Harvard College and, after a year's study at the University of London in 1954-55, earning an LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1958. He practiced law in New York City, serving with the law firms of Emmet, Marvin & Martin and Patterson, Belknap & Webb from 1959 to 1965. In 1965 during the Lyndon Johnson Administration, his career moved into a public service phase when he became Assistant General Counsel for Legislation and then Chief of Legislative Programs for the Agency for International Development within the Department of State. From there, he went on to become General Counsel for the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (1967-69). His long time affiliation with Harvard University began in 1969 when he became Secretary of the University Committee on Governance.

Tributes from NEC Community

“Daniel Steiner meant so much to NEC during his tenure of seven years," said Board Chair Jack Vernon. “He introduced changes which will set the direction for the Conservatory for years to come with his recruitment of distinguished faculty. What's more, he created an environment that is nurturing and caring and which plays an important part in attracting the highest caliber musicians from around the world."

“Not only did Daniel Steiner understand what the Conservatory needed to enhance its place in the artistic firmament, he also knew what NEC had to do to make it financially possible," said David Scudder, Life Trustee and head of The Gift of Music capital campaign. “Thanks to his leadership, we have already raised nearly three-quarters of our $100 million goal."

“Daniel earned the trust of everyone in the NEC community," said Harold Pratt, Vice Chair of the Board. “With his passion for the school, his concern for people, his insistence on excellence, his modesty, gentleness, integrity, and sense of humor, he created an environment of mutual respect and collegiality. He liked to say 'NEC is a happy place' and he was right."


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 750 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world. Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars. Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide. Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions. On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Collaboration Programs, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors. Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes--thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music and jazz.

NEC presents more than 600 free concerts each year In Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, 100-year old, beautifully restored concert hall. These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz and opera scenes. Every year, NEC's opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of “From the Top," a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by more than two hundred stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
[email protected]

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