Elaine Lorillard’s obituary in the Times

November 30, 2007

Many of today’s artists praise jazz festivals like Monterey, Telluride and JVC for the performance opportunities they create. One of the leaders of the festival legacy, socialite Elaine Lorillard, passed away Monday, The New York Times reported.

Lorillard, 93 at the time of her death, had conceived the Newport Jazz Festival (or Rhode Island’s JVC) in the mid-1950s.

According to Dennis Hevesi of The Times, Lorillard and her husband, Louis, created “the model for what became a worldwide circuit of outdoor jazz festivals.”

The festival was allegedly born from a simple remark: During a 1953 classical concert in Newport, John Maxon (head of the Rhode Island School of Design Museum) had turned to Lorillard and said what a shame it was that jazz didn’t yet have its own large-scale festival. The Lorillards held the first Newport Festival a year later, in 1954: Over 7000 people attended.

Music festivals define the summer season in my home country of Finland, and the Pori Jazz festival is one of the country’s most talked-about public happenings each year. The festival culture is thus particularly close to my heart. Although music is protected and developed by government funding differently in Europe than in the States, it’s hard to imagine some older genres surviving anywhere in the world without these outdoor concert gatherings; while they serve as places for music enthusiasts to flock to, they also lure in non-aficionados for their ambience alone. I’m thus happy to see the Times pay fitting tribute to one of the founders of the modern festival culture.


New York Times article: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/28/arts/music/28lorillard.html?_r=1&ref=arts&oref=slogin

Newport Jazz Festival home page: http://www.festivalproductions.net/jvcjazz/newport/sched.php?ID=19

Pori Jazz: http://www.porijazz.fi/component/option,com_frontpage/Itemid,1/lang,eng


2 Responses to “Elaine Lorillard’s obituary in the Times”

  1. todd44 Says:

    Great article Laura. It’s funny that I never think of you as being Finnish, though that’s such a large part of who you are. I think your incredibly American-sounding accent throws people off. You and I are working on much the same thing, I think – a grand old tradition that has maybe seen better times and how it is persevering in the modern era. I look forward to seeing your finished product and, as always, am grateful for the advice and insights you have provided about my work. I think you can count yourself in the minority of people that care about modern poetry. I was I knew more about jazz and could offer suggestions, but alas, I am just another jazz-ignorant American.

  2. todd44 Says:

    Meant to say, “I wish I knew more…”

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