CSO Loses Stahl

Mrs. Martha Patterson and Miss Maude Winthrop Gibbon established the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in the year 1936. It is an orchestra that is exclusive to the town of Charleston and usually only performs at the Gaillard Auditorium. It performs on an extremely busy schedule throughout the year, employing approximately thirty-nine musicians on a full time basis and has become one of South Carolina’s biggest establishments. Over and above the musicians, the Charleston Symphony Orchestra also has a conductor and music director, to whom they recently had to bid farewell this week.

David Stahl took over the position of conductor and music director of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra in 1984. The news that he had lost his battle against cancer last weekend came as a shock to all who knew him, as well as to the orchestra members who had worked so closely with him for years. Born in New York, David Stahl was the son of an engineer, who was a German Jewish emigrant. His father was one of the men who did restoration work on the Golden Gate Bridge, and he supported Stahl in his dreams and ambitions. At the tender age of twenty-three David Stahl found himself on the prestigious stage of Carnegie Hall, where he was seen by the famous Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein decided to take Stahl under his wing. His time with Bernstein saw him eventually take over the West Side Story Broadway production. After taking his position with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, he was also invited by the Staatsteater am Gaertnerplatz, in Germany, as a guest conductor. The year 2009 saw Stahl celebrate his twenty-five years at the Charleston Symphony Orchestra.

At his twenty-five year celebration, Stahl commented: “It is time now for us all to think about the future, and the next generation of leadership.” He continued to say: “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 lost his wife to cancer a year earlier, and his passing has left big shoes to fill.