Obituary: Conductor Larry Rachleff Passes at 67

By David Salazar

Conductor Larry Rachleff passed away on August 8, 2022 at the age of 67 after a long battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Born on Feb. 25, 1955 in New London Connecticut, he would study at the University of Connecticut and get his Master’s Degree at the University of Michigan. Honorary Doctorates would follow at the Roger Williams University and Providence College, Rhode Island.

He was a major figure at the Rice Shepherd School where he was a conductor of the symphony and chamber orchestras for more than three decades. He was also involved with a number of music festivals such as Tanglewood, Aspen, Interlochen, Chautauqua, Grand Teton, Brevard, Music Academy of the West, and the Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy. He also gave masterclasses at such institutions as Chopin Academy, the Hochschule in Zürich as well as conservatories in Sydney and Queensland, Australia, among many others.

“Those of us lucky enough to have followed his baton from the stage will remember Larry as a once-in-a-generation musician and educator of the highest caliber,” said Matthew Loden, the Lynette S. Autrey Dean of Music at the Shepherd School, in an official statement issued by the institution. “On the podium, he was a clear and inspired conductor who routinely expected his ensembles to collectively outperform individual talent and ability. Teamwork, disciplined listening and joint responsibility for bringing the best possible music to an audience are just a few of the legacies of excellence that Larry leaves behind.”

Prior to his work with Rice Shepherd School, Rachleff worked at the Oberlin Conservatory, the University of Southern California, San Antonio Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra League, the Conductor’s Guild, the International Workshop for Conductors, and the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra.

He was also a major advocate for contemporary music and work with such composers as Crumb, Berio, Adler, Daughterty, and Harbison.