Yesterday’s news reported the passing of Carlos Moseley at age 98. His obituary can be found in The New York Times by clicking here.
I first heard the name Carlos Moseley back in 1982. At that time, Mr. Moseley was already a living legend, having managed the New York Philharmonic for nearly thirty years. I was the young marketing director for The Cleveland Orchestra.
I owed my new position to Cleveland’s long serving Managing Director, Kenneth Haas. Like many orchestra managers of that era, Ken owed his career to Mr. Moseley, who hired Ken as an operations manager for the Philharmonic 1967. Ken worked backstage at the new Avery Fisher Hall and the free summer concerts Moseley created in Central Park. Ken was a passionate man who cared about The Cleveland Orchestra, impossibly high standards (on and off stage) and Carlos Moseley. For Ken, the standard of the modern orchestra manager was Carlos Moseley.
Years later, after I had moved on to manage my own orchestras, I saw Ken at an industry meeting. After catching up on family gossip, Ken reminded me that Mr. Moseley had retired to Spartanburg, SC, not far from my post managing the Charlotte Symphony. Ken suggested that I reach out to Mr. Moseley and go for a visit.
Armed with a telephone number and Ken’s name, I placed the call. Cynthia, Mr. Moseley’s sister answered. After a few protective questions she quickly put Mr. Moseley on the line. Once he discovered my connection to Ken and my career path, he insisted that I come for lunch at my earliest convenience.
A week or two later on a hot summer day, I appeared on the deeply shaded front porch of his home. Warmly furnished and smelling of the tasty lunch prepared by Cynthia, I was welcomed as a member of their family. For the rerst of that afternoon, we sat around the dining room table sharing stories of our careers. He was a kind gentlemanly soul from another era. Despite his long career in New York, his soft voice was rich with the accent of western South Carolina. And, his stories were considerably more interesting than mine.
He was, after all, the piano soloist when Leonard Bernstein made his second conducting appearance at Tanglewood (Brahms Second Piano Concerto). He was present at the creation of a new home for the Philharmonic at Lincoln Center.
He was the manager who navigated the waters that saw the creation of the modern fulltime orchestra.
He also worked with (and had hilarious stories about) virtually every classical music luminary on the planet.
Finally, he helped launch the careers of countless orchestra managers.
What made this visit memorable was his interest in me.
Of course, he wanted to know the friends we shared.
But, he also wanted to know what I knew and what I thought.
He wanted to know where I saw the industry going.
His Philharmonic career began as a press agent – the precursor role for the current marketing position.
We were connected.
Most importantly, he genuinely cared.
He made me feel as though I was a full member of a very exclusive club of people who did honorable and meaningful work that benefited communities across America.
He didn’t have to, but he gave me great confidence to pursue my career.
My relationship with Mr. Moseley was not as deep as many who worked with him on a daily basis. But his passing at age 98 reminds me that all of us are inextricably connected to those who gave us an opportunity long before we deserved the chance. All of us stand here because of a spark that someone once saw in us.
I am grateful to Steve Monder, who gave me my first orchestra job in Cincinnati.
I’m grateful to Ken, who gave me a shot in Cleveland and was kind enough to demand the best I had to offer.
I know that I was a frustrating employee for such a perfectionist to manage.
I am grateful to Henry Fogel whose counsel helped me manage my way around my incredible errors of inexperience when I moved from marketing to senior management.
I am also grateful to all those who gave Ken and Steve and Henry their first opportunities.
And yes, I am grateful to Carlos Moseley.
Without Mr. Moseley, I would not be doing what I love to do today.
Bravo, Carlos Moseley, for a life well lived. And thank you.