Obituary: Israeli Conductor Yaacov Bergman Dies at 78

By Francisco Salazar

On Sept. 20, 2023, Israeli conductor Yaacov Bergman died at the age of 78.

Born in Israel on May 31, 1945, Bergman began taking violin and singing lessons at an early age. He then took an interest in conducting and composing and went on to study at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance for conducting and composition.

Bergman did his post-graduate studies at the Mannes College of Music in New York and went on to study conducting further with Charles Bruck and Leonard Bernstein.

He received an honorary doctorate from the Colorado Technical University in 1998.

He went on to become the Musical Director of the Colorado Springs Symphony, the New York Heritage Chamber Orchestra, the Walla Walla Symphony, and the Portland Chamber Orchestra. He was also the artistic director and conductor of the Siletz Bay Music Festival in Lincoln City, Oregon.

Internationally, he conducted the Osaka Opera Company and the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. He was also a guest conductor for the Buffalo Philharmonic, the San Diego Symphony, the Edmonton Symphony in Canada, the West Virginia Symphony, the Redlands Symphony, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the Brooklyn Philharmonic in New York.

Bergman conducted numerous operas by Puccini, Mozart, and Verdi. He also world-premiered works by such composers William Bolcom, Robert Starer, John Verrall, Gwyneth Walker, Tzvi Avni, Ofer Ben-Amots, Henryk Górecki, Giya Kancheli, and Arvo Pärt.