Obituary: Ed Birdwell, horn player, orchestra administrator, NEA music division head, 81

Posted on: February 26, 2018

“Ed Birdwell, onetime professional horn player who later headed the music division at the National Endowment for the Arts, died on January 26 in Huntsville, Alabama,” writes Helen Epstein in Friday’s (2/23) MusicalAmerica.com (subscription required). “Birdwell majored in music at the University of Houston and was working on a masters degree at the University of Texas when, in 1958, he was drafted. [He auditioned] for the West Point Band…. He remained in the West Point Band for three years…. His first permanent orchestra job was with the Houston Symphony…. He returned to New York [where he played] in the pit band for Broadway’s Stop the World I Want to Get Off. In 1964, he became a member of both the New York City Ballet Orchestra and the American Brass Quintet. ABQ was in residence at the Aspen Music Festival and School where, in 1971, Birdwell was named assistant to Dean Gordon Hardy. That job presaged an administrative career that included deputy director of Carnegie Hall (starting in 1976); executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber (in 1978); assistant orchestra manager of the Boston Symphony Orchestra (1981); director of the music program at the NEA; and managing director of the Seattle Symphony.”

Posted February 26, 2018