The American businessman and conductor Gilbert Kaplan died on January 1, aged 74. He is known as an expert of Gustav Mahler’s work and especially of the Resurrection Symphony which he recorded twice and conducted all over the world.

Kaplan was born in 1941 New York City. In 1967, he founded the magazine Institutional Investor. He sold the newspaper in 1984, but remained its publisher until 1990, and editor-in-chief for two more years. He then concentrated on conducting and established the Kaplan Foundation which is dedicated to scholarship and the promotion of the music of Gustav Mahler. Kaplan owned the autograph manuscript of Mahler’s score of the second symphony and published a facsimile edition of the score in 1986. He also owned the autograph manuscript of Mahler’s song, Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen. A facsimile of this manuscript was published by the Kaplan Foundation in 2015.

Kaplan conducted Mahler’s Second Symphony with more than fifty orchestras, including the Vienna Philharmonic, New York Philharmonic, Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony, Royal Philharmonic, Saint Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Orchestra of La Scala. In 1993 he conducted the symphony in Luxembourg. It must have been one of his worst experiences, since the RTL Symphony Orchestra was unable to cooperate with him and the concert nearly failed to happen. In December 2008, The New York Times reported that New York Philharmonic musicians had complained that his recent performance with the orchestra was a « woefully sad farce », and that he should not be allowed to conduct them again. After all, it was the orchestra’s attitude which allowed him to be successful or not. With musicians unable to accept a non-professional conductor, it was difficult. Once those feelings were overcome, he was doing great, as both of his recordings of the Resurrection symphony show. Our review (first published in print in 2002) is here.

I was lucky enough to meet Gilbert Kaplan twice. We had enriching discussions and I admired a rather shy and humble but well determined man. When, back in 1993, he suffered the reprobation from the musicians in Luxembourg, I saw how much he was hurt and I only could sympathize with him.

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