Peter Pastreich


Peter Pastreich

Peter Pastreich served as Executive Director of the San Francisco Symphony during its period of most dramatic growth, from 1978 to 1999. Prior to that he served for 12 years as Executive Director of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Pastreich's forty years as an orchestra manager made him the longest-tenured chief executive of a major US symphony orchestra and the dean of American orchestra managers. He left the San Francisco Symphony to work more in two areas that have long interested him: training orchestra administrators and consulting to arts institutions, particularly in strategic planning

Mr. Pastreich's management consulting has been in Europe, where his clients have included the Berlin Philharmonic and the South Bank Centre in London; in the United States, where he has consulted to the Detroit Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, and the Santa Barbara Symphony; and for the Sydney Symphony in Australia. He has served as mediator in several orchestra union negotiations. He organized and for ten years has served as Director of the League of American Orchesta's "Essentials of Orchestra Management" seminar. He is also the Director of a seminar in orchestra and concert hall management for the University of Zürich.

Mr. Pastreich represented the San Francisco Symphony in the planning and construction, and in the successful acoustical and architectural renovation, of Davies Symphony Hall. During his 21 years in San Francisco, a period which included the tenures of music directors Michael Tilson Thomas, Herbert Blomstedt, and Edo De Waart, the Orchestra's budget increased from under $6,000,000 to over $40,000,000. The orchestra was unique among major American orchestras in operating for 16 years without a deficit, and increased its endowment from $12,000,000 to $140,000,000. During his tenure the San Francisco Symphony founded the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, issued over 40 recordings, syndicated its radio broadcasts on over 450 stations, and made its first American tour in 30 years, its first Asian tour since 1975, its first tour to Europe in 14 years, and its first tour of European Festivals in 1990. Mr. Pastreich was involved in the planning of Michael Tilson Thomas's first four seasons as the Orchestra's Music Director, which included European, Asian, and two national tours, acclaimed post-season festivals, and the negotiation of a five-year fifteen-disc recording contract with BMG Classics/RCA Victor Red Seal.

Mr. Pastreich has served as Vice Chairman of the League of American Orchestras, and was the first Chairman of the League's Task Force on Management Training, a program designed to recruit and train future orchestra managers. He has served on Advisory Panels in the Visual Arts, Media, Challenge and Orchestra Programs of the National Endowment for the Arts, is a member of the Seaver/NEA Conductors' Award Executive Council, was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Saint Louis Conservatory, and serves on the Board of the San Francisco Conservatory.

While in St. Louis, Mr. Pastreich worked with conductors Walter Susskind, Jerzy Semkow and Leonard Slatkin. During his tenure the orchestra purchased the St. Louis Theater and converted it to Powell Symphony Hall, established its first endowment fund and pension fund, founded the Saint Louis Symphony Chorus and the Saint Louis Symphony Youth Orchestra, and substantially increased its touring and recording activity. Before joining the Saint Louis Symphony, Mr. Pastreich served for seven months as Business Manager of the Kansas City Philharmonic. He had previously served as Manager of the Nashville Symphony and the Greenwich Village Symphony, and as Assistant Manager of the Denver Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1938, Mr. Pastreich received a B.A. Degree, magna cum laude, from Yale University in 1959, majoring in English Literature. He studied the trumpet at Yale and in Paris, and played in orchestras and bands until 1970. Mr. Pastreich began his management career as a student by organizing and managing the Yale University Band's European Tour of 1959, the first such tour ever made by an American college band. In 1999 he was made a chevalier des arts et des lettres by the French government and was awarded the League of American Orchestra's Gold Baton Award. In May 2006 he received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Articles by Peter Pastreich:

Orchestra Administration
September 8, 2019