Renowned Israeli conductor dies on stage during concert

Israel Yinon, 59, collapses at Lucerne event; cause of death unclear

Israeli conductor Israel Yinon (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)
Israeli conductor Israel Yinon (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)

GENEVA — Renowned Israeli conductor Israel Yinon collapsed and died as he was conducting a concert in the Swiss city of Lucerne late Thursday, a spokesman said.

The 59-year-old was in the middle of leading “An Alpine Symphony” by German composer Richard Strauss when he slumped, falling headlong to the ground.

The cause of death was not immediately clear.

According to local media, the conductor fell off the stage and sustained a bad head injury. He died before an ambulance arrived at the hall.

Born on January 11, 1956, in Kfar Saba in Israel, Yinon studied conducting, music theory and composition at the Samuel Rubin Academy of Music in Tel Aviv as well as the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem.

Yinon served as guest conductor with numerous orchestras, including the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra, the London Royal Philharmonic, the Royal Antwerp Flemish Philharmonic, the Vienna Symphony and the German Symphony Orchestra Berlin.

During his career, Yinon primarily conducted pieces by Jewish musicians who perished during the Holocaust.

His cousin Yisrael Ganor told the Ynet news website that, while Yinon was sought after around the world, in Israel he was largely overlooked.

“Rather than playing popular works, he chose to focus on obscure Jewish composers killed during the Holocaust, and Israelis,” he said. “In Germany, Austria, and the Czech Republic he was very successful with this material, whereas in Israel he was rarely invited [to conduct]. Once someone famous told him — I don’t remember if it was a musician or journalist — that they would only invite him if there was no one else, or if the budgetary constraints couldn’t cover someone well known.”

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