Ernest Fleischmann Departs

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On today’s DnA, we talk about Eli Broad and his latest architectural efforts on Grand Avenue. But Grand Avenue would not be the way it is now without Ernest Fleischmann, longstanding and brilliant manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, who passed Sunday night at age 85. Without Fleischmann, not only would we not have our world-class orchestra, we might not have the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He and Frank Gehry became acquainted many years ago (see LA Times obituary) and Fleischmann pushed  for Gehry to be selected as designer of the new concert hall.

As Mark Swed writes in the Los Angeles Times today, “There were many other artists Fleischmann believed in, such as Frank Gehry, whom he hired to renovate the Bowl stage. An architecture competition was held for Disney Hall, and Gehry’s entry was the most radical, controversial and seemingly impractical. Fleischmann, however, did whatever was necessary to insure that the building would be not only a signature structure for Los Angeles but would actually, against significant odds, get built.

When I began at The Times in 1996, everyone I spoke to said that Disney Hall, already years behind schedule, was moribund. Everyone, that is, except Fleischmann. He refused to give up on his fantasy of a living room for downtown, the most exciting place in the country to hear music and a new symbol for the city, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the music it made, in the very center of consciousness.”