Ronald Freed, head of European American Music Distributors and noted supporter of American composers, died February 20, after suffering a brain hemorrhage. He was 64.
Tom Broido, President of the Theodore Presser Company and the Music Publishers’ Association of the U.S. (a position Freed also held at one point), expressed the industry’s sorrow over the loss. “Ronald Freed lived and breathed the music business. He was tireless in his efforts to promote the composers for whom he was responsible. Many of us consulted Ron when we needed an opinion on copyright law. He was one of the foremost experts on copyright law in our business.”
“On a personal note,” he added, “I will miss Ron’s wicked sense of humor and limitless energy.”
Freed had led EAMDC since shortly after its formation. In addition to representing Mahler, Bartok, Weill, Stravinsky, Orff, Hindemith, Berg, Berio, Henze, Boulez, Penderecki, and many others, Freed published leading American composers such as Pulitzer Prize winners Joseph Schwantner, Christopher Rouse, and Bernard Rands.
He came to EAMDC from his position as head of Peer-Southern‘s serious music division. There he had taken charge of publishing the works of such esteemed composers as Charles Ives, Virgil Thomson, David Diamond, Ned Rorem, Silvestre Revueltas, Manuel Ponce, and others.
In addition, Freed served four terms as president of the Music Publishers’ Association of the United States and remained on the board. He served for many years as a board member of ASCAP, as a member of the ASCAP Board of Review and as a member of the ASCAP Symphony and Concert Committee. Freed also served on the board of the Charles Ives Society. He was a graduate of The Juilliard School.
In 1997, when Freed’s years of service on behalf of MPA were acknowledged, Ron Rowe, MPA President from 1997 to 1998, noted that “as an industry veteran of 30 years, Ronald’s individual contribution to the Music Publishers’ Association has been unparalleled and his service to the music publishing community should be applauded by all members.”
In a 1996 profile published on NAMPA’s Web site, Freed demonstrated his characteristic optimism, noting that he was witnessing growth opportunities around the world for serious music. “I have never known such opportunity for performance,” he said. “Major orchestras are opening their doors – in Philadelphia they’re bringing in large screens to help attract younger audiences. The Met is commissioning American operas, which is something that was unheard of 20 years ago. And there is an enormous amount of interest in American music developing in Europe – people like John Cage, Morton Feldman – who were spotlighted by Lincoln Center this summer – Elliott Carter, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Conlon Nancarrow.