Teresa Sterne

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Teresa Sterne
Born (1927-03-29)March 29, 1927
Died December 10, 2000(2000-12-10) (aged 73)
Nationality American
Other names Teresa Rosenbaum
Occupation Record executive

Teresa Sterne (also known as Teresa Rosenbaum and Tracey Sterne) (March 29, 1927 – December 10, 2000) was an American concert pianist and record producer. Sterne's performance career began at the age of 12 when she appeared with both the NBC Symphony and New York Philharmonic Symphony. After setting her performance career aside, she served as director of Nonesuch Records from 1965 through 1979.

Early life[edit]

Sterne was born in Brooklyn to an already musical family. Her mother was a professional cellist who quit her career to advance her daughter's musical development. Sterne's paternal uncle was a distinguished violinist who also helped develop her talents.[1] She showed musical talent at an early age and was taken out of school at the age of 10 to be privately tutored and focus on the piano.[2]

Performance career[edit]

Sterne began performing at the age of 11 and made her professional debut at the age of 12 when she performed Grieg's Piano Concerto with the NBC Symphony Orchestra at Madison Square Garden. The following year she performed Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 with the New York Philharmonic Symphony at Lewisohn Stadium in Harlem in front of nearly 6,000 people. Although several critics of the performance noted she lacked the strength to completely play the thunderous nature of the work, all of them "praised her temperament, singing tone and impressive technique."[3]

She went on to perform many well-known works. By the time she was 14, she had performed pieces like Bach's "Italian" Concerto and Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 20 to much acclaim. At 16, she gave a full recital at the Brooklyn Museum, where she performed Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 13, among other works by Bach-von Bulow, Medtner, Debussy, Chopin and Beethoven. She performed Rachmaninoff's Second Piano Concerto with the New York Philharmonic Symphony at Lewisohn Stadium again at the age of 19.[3]

Transition away from performing[edit]

In her early twenties, Sterne's family began having money problems, so she put her career aside and began working as a secretary in the offices of the manager Sol Hurok, where she "nurtured the careers of other young artists."[1][2] Her first job in the recording industry was in the customer department of Columbia Records (now known as Sony Classical). She was then the secretary and general assistant of Seymour Solomon at Vanguard Records for seven years. In 1965, she became director of Nonesuch Records, a label that had been created the previous year as part of Jac Holzman’s pop- and folk-oriented Elektra Records.[2]

Nonesuch Records[edit]

When Sterne became director of Nonesuch Records, the label's function consisted mostly of buying the rights to European ensembles' recordings of Baroque music and reissuing them in the United States. She made a name for herself at Nonesuch by producing music that other major recording labels ignored, including American vernacular music, world music and music by contemporary composers. She produced recordings by American composers George Crumb, Elliott Carter, Morton Subotnick, Charles Wuorinen and Donald Martino, and she even commissioned them to compose more music. She also issued important recordings of lesser-known works by Schoenberg, Busoni and Stravinsky.[1]


  1. ^ a b c Tommasini, Anthony (12 December 2000). "Teresa Sterne, 73, Pioneer In Making Classical Records". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Freed, Richard (Donald). "Teresa Sterne". Jewish Women's Archive. Retrieved 9 March 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Tommasini, Anthony (31 July 2000). "CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK: A Scene-Stealer Behind the Scenes; Teresa Sterne, Musical Prodigy, Sacrificed Her Own Art So Others Might Be Heard". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 March 2013.