OBITUARY: W. Stuart Pope, music publisher, 83

OBITUARY: W. Stuart Pope, music publisher, 83

W. Stuart Pope
Photo courtesy ASCAP

W. Stuart Pope, president of Boosey & Hawkes, Inc. from 1964 until his retirement in 1984, died January 24, 2005 after a long illness. He was 83.

“Stuart’s tenure as a music publisher was distinguished by his very sensitive ear for talent and by his expansive interest in the dynamics of music-making on a broad level,” noted Jennifer Bilfield, the current president of Boosey & Hawkes in New York. “His personal elegance and presence added luster to his role at the helm of B&H and in recent years, as his health weakened, I was very moved by his ongoing determination to remain connected to our business and to the music world. He will be missed…but remembered warmly, and always with great respect.”

Pope dedicated much of his career to promoting the work of some of the 20th century’s leading American composers, including Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Dominick Argento, Alberto Ginastera, and Ned Rorem. A man with broad musical tastes and a deep commitment to the field as a whole, Pope was also a board member of ASCAP, the Aaron Copland Foundation, and American Music Center (at one point serving as treasurer), and the Music Publishers Association (serving two terms as president).

“His generous spirit and wise counsel was always welcome,” said Frances Richard, vice president and director of concert music at ASCAP where Pope also served as a member of the Symphony and Concert Committee. “We shall miss his elegant, knowledgeable, and gracious presence.”

Pope first came to music as a chorister in England and, after graduating from the Royal College of Organists, served as organist at London’s Crown Court Church of Scotland.

The new music community reacted to the news of Pope’s death with fond remembrances.

Steve Reich recalled when Pope first asked him to join Boosey & Hawkes in the early 1980s. “I accepted his generous offer,” wrote Reich, “and it turned out to be a relationship as close to ideal as one can imagine between composer and publisher. It should also be noted that, at the time Stuart brought me into Boosey & Hawkes, he brought in Elliott Carter as well—certainly surprising many that one man could have musical tastes that ranged from one end of the musical world to the other. It was to his great credit that Stuart Pope wanted to include good music—regardless of the style it was written in. He will missed by many in the musical world.”

AMC Board member James Kendrick, who took over Pope’s position at Boosey and is currently Acting President of European American Music Distributors LLC, writes, “I never had the privilege of working for Stuart Pope. Instead, in 1985, a year after he retired, I was given the terrifying (and impossible) task of trying to fill some of the biggest and most important shoes in American music publishing.

“Stuart, whom I came to know from work on the Music Publishers Association board and from other industry contacts before and after my time at B&H, was a true gentleman and a great friend and champion of American composers and their music. I came to know him best through the composers he nurtured, the music he published, and the staff he influenced so positively, particularly Sylvia Goldstein, David Huntley, Jean Golden and Michael Murray. Although some of my fumblings must have made him (not to mention the staff, the composers and his colleagues like Ellis Freedman) cringe, he never sought to interfere, but always let me know that he was there if I needed to talk things through, and it was a great comfort to know that. Stuart’s friends around the world will miss him, but the music he championed long will be a wonderful reminder of his generous and wise soul.”

Pope is survived by his wife, Doris; daughters Judith Browne and Brenda Pope-Ostrow and son John; and three grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. Feb. 19 at the Princeton United Methodist Church in Princeton. Arrangements are by Mather-Hodge Funeral Home, Princeton.

Memorial contributions may be made to Princeton United Methodist Church, 7 Vandeventer Avenue, Princeton, New Jersey, 08542-6920 or the Hospice Memorial Fund of Princeton Healthcare System Foundation, 253 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, New Jersey, 08540-9914.

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