The struggling Charleston Symphony Orchestra was dealt another blow over the weekend when Music Director David Stahl lost his battle with cancer. His death came just over a month after he lost his wife Karen, also to cancer.
Stahl had served as music director and conductor for the CSO since 1984, helping it become a leading cultural organization in the region up until its recent financial challenges. In 2009, he began making the transition to laureate conductor.
“It is time now for us all to think about the future, and the next generation of leadership,” Stahl said at the time. “I am so proud of our musicians and what we have accomplished, what we have built. I’m grateful for their support over the years.”
Stahl was born in New York City to German Jewish refugees, and he made his Carnegie Hall debut at the tender age of 23. Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa invited him to become a conducting fellow at Tanglewood, where he met Leonard Bernstein, who would go on to become his mentor. Bernstein invited Stahl to be the assistant conductor for the New York Philharmonic when he was 26 years old.
Over the years, Stahl conducted more than 100 orchestras and opera companies across four continents. Locally, he was recognized for his service with the Elizabeth Verner Award, the Order of the Palmetto, and an Honorary Doctorate from the College of Charleston. Stahl was also the music director and chief conductor of Munich’s Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz.