Joseph H. Conlin, In Memoriam (1928-2007)
Impresario, Past MCNY President
Joseph H. Conlin, 79, New York impresario, died on Monday, March 5, 2007, in West Palm Beach, FL, while still serving as the President of the Musicians Club of New York. While involved for decades in the Musicians Club of New York's concerts and competitions, as president he is credited with reinstituing a regular concert series, the Serge & Olga Koussevitzky Young Artist Awards, and the Koussevitzky International Recording Awards.
A kindly, imposing man of great wit, charm, and generosity -and an excellent ballroom dancer who possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and piano repertoire -he suffered an aneurism behind the right knee in May of 2002, which led simultaneously to an amputation and kidney dialysis. With heroic cheerfulness, he continued to support his friends and clients from his electric wheelchair, building up his concert management and travel agency as a legacy for tenor and composer Brian Hunter, his partner for the last 15 years. After graduation from Columbia University, several years at NBC, and a stint in the US Army, he worked for John R. Fitzgerald of Rye Beach, NH, the largest purveyor of novelties in the world. In the 1950s, he established Conlin Associates, which became one of America's premier concert-management firms, responsible for numerous contracts in the U.S. of such European artists as Carlo Bergonzi, Maria Callas, Giuseppe di Stefano, and Ferruccio Tagliavini. Among his list of high-level cultural events were the first American recital of Renata Tebaldi at the Old Met, the American Farewell Concert Tour of the 65-year-old Beniamino Gigli, and the 1955 sensational Carnegie Hall recital of Jussi Bjorling when other presenters were afraid of the great tenor's alcoholism. An expert judge of musical talent, Conlin adjudicated numerous piano and vocal competitions across the country. In the 1980s, he served as general manager of the Palm Beach Opera and executive director of the Chopin Foundation of the US, in Miami."