Akira Endo (conductor)

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Akira Endo (遠藤 明, Endō Akira) (16 November 1938 – 3 April 2014)[1] was a Japanese-American conductor and music educator. He studied violin and conducting at the University of Southern California, where he earned a bachelor's and master's degree.

Maestro Endo held conducting posts with the American Ballet Theatre,[2] Westside Orchestra, Long Beach Symphony Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Austin Symphony Orchestra, San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, and the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

He appeared as guest conductor of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Utah Symphony Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Central and South America.

In Europe, most notably, he conducted the Tivoli Symphony Orchestra in the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen, Denmark, as well as orchestras at the Santander Festival in Spain, Athens Festival in Greece, the Arena de Verona in Italy, the Nervis Festival in Genoa, and at the Edinburgh Festival with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

As a devoted music educator, he also appeared as guest conductor for the Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Oklahoma, and Texas All-State High School Honor Orchestras.

Maestro Endo twice received prizes from the Dimitri Mitropoulos International Competition for Conductors at Carnegie Hall and ASCAP for adventuresome programming with the Louisville Orchestra.[3] Upon the recommendation of Leonard Bernstein, Maestro Endo assumed directorship of the American Ballet Theatre Orchestra in March 1969. He enjoyed an illustrious career with the American Ballet Theatre, remaining for ten years, during which time he worked with many major dancers from around the world, most notably Margot Fonteyn and Rudolf Nureyev. He also led the western debut performances of both Mikhail Baryshnikov and Natalia Makarova.

Endo conducted one of the first Live from Lincoln Center programs in 1976 — a live, televised, complete production of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, starring Mme. Makarova and the American Ballet Theatre. It was simulcast in FM stereo on NPR, and because it was televised live, complete with three twenty-minute intermissions, was quite possibly the longest ballet telecast ever shown in the United States up to that time (three-and-a-half hours counting the intermissions). However, because of Lincoln Center's policy concerning the release of its programs on VHS or DVD (there have been none because of complicated rules on royalty payments) it is currently unavailable for viewing by the general public.

Maestro Endo was Director of Orchestral Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder as well as the Conductor of the Colorado Ballet until his retirement. Prior to his post at Colorado, he served as the Director of Orchestral Activities and as Chairman of the Department of Instrumental Performance at the University of Miami.

Endo was a visiting professor at such institutions as Stanford University (Palo Alto, California), Rice University (Houston, Texas), California State University, Long Beach, Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania), and the University of Oklahoma.


  1. ^ AKIRA ENDO Obituary
  2. ^ "The Changing Scene". Music Educators Journal. MENC: The National Association for Music Education. 55 (9): 15–20. May 1969. JSTOR 3392549.
  3. ^ "Back Matter". The Musical Quarterly. Oxford University Press. 67 (3). July 1981. JSTOR 742110.

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