Millionaire's will sparks orchestra battle - Israel Culture, Ynetnews

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Philharmonic. 'Biggest and most famous orchestra in Israel' Photo: Dan Forges
Philharmonic. 'Biggest and most famous orchestra in Israel' Photo: Dan Forges
Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur. 'Closer name'
Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur. 'Closer name' 

Millionaire's will sparks orchestra battle

Jewish American classical music fan leaves millions of dollars to Israeli orchestra. Will's unclear wording leads to legal battle between two orchestras in New Jersey

Eli Senyor
Published: 11.29.11, 07:36 / Israel Culture

A US court will soon hand down its ruling in an inheritance case involving two Israeli orchestras. A will left by a late Jewish American classical music fan promises one of the orchestras millions of dollars – but which one is it?


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Dr. Kurt Nassau, a wealthy Jew from New Jersey, was a gemology expert and held a series of positions in the American high-tech industry and academic institutions.


Nassau arrived in the United States during the Holocaust. His extensive work has produced as many as 17 patents. In addition, he has left behind an estate worth some $1 million.


According to his will, his love for classical music promoted him to leave all his fortune to the Israel Symphony Orchestra.

התזמורת הגדולה והמוכרת בישראל. התזמורת הפילהרמונית (צילום: בן קלמר) 

Israel Philharmonic Orchestra (Photo: Ben Kelmer)


When the New Jersey registrar of wills opened Nassau's testament, it was unclear who should get the money. An inquiry conducted in Israel revealed two possible candidates to inherit the fortune: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and the Israel Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion.


Letters were sent to the managers of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and to Rishon Lezion Mayor Dov Tzur, to inform them of the will.


A "philharmonic orchestra" is a synonym for a symphonic orchestra representing a classical orchestra with dozens of musicians.


The orchestras, represented by Attorneys Ofir Argaman and Yaakov Katz, have hired the services of local lawyers to represent them in the American court.


On the one hand, the Philharmonic claims to be the biggest and most famous orchestra in Israel, performing all over the world, and says the deceased attended its concerts.


The Rishon Lezion Municipality, on the other hand, says that the name mentioned in the will, Israel Symphony Orchestra, is closer to its orchestra's name, and that the deceased visited the city throughout his life and may have even attended one of the orchestra's concerts.


The attempts to reach a compromise between the two orchestras have failed, and the New Jersey court will have to rule next week which of the two will be entitled to the desired inheritance.



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