Obituary: Irwin Hoffman, Florida Orchestra founding conductor, 93

Posted on: March 22, 2018

“Orchestra musicians respected and feared Irwin Hoffman, the founding conductor of what is now the Florida Orchestra,” writes Andrew Meacham in Thursday’s (3/22) Tampa Bay Times. “Musicians credit Mr. Hoffman with establishing the high standards that kept the orchestra afloat during its first 20 years. Mr. Hoffman, who turned two merged civic orchestras into a regional player, with aspirations to become a major symphony orchestra, died Monday in Costa Rica. He was 93…. He served as a titled conductor with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra from 1964 to 1970. He memorized his symphonies, conducting without a score or a baton… In 1967 … Mr. Hoffman, then 43, [became] the first music director of the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony [the predecessor to the Florida Orchestra]…. The new orchestra gave its first concert Nov. 14, 1968…. Mr. Hoffman was born … in New York. When he was 6, his father, a violinist, placed a violin under his chin. He began studying the piano around the same time…. He discovered a talent for conducting early, debuting at 17 before the Philadelphia Orchestra.” Hoffman left the Florida Orchestra in 1987. “He conducted Costa Rica’s National Symphony Orchestra from 1981 to 2001. In the last year of his life, he remained active in the Youth Symphony Orchestra, which he had helped found.”

Posted March 22, 2018