Veteran Music Publisher Jay R. Morgenstern Dies at 87

Jay Morgenstern
Courtesy of Jay Morgenstern

Jay R. Morgenstern, a 50-year veteran of music publishing, died on July 4 in Los Angeles. He was 87.

In a distinguished career, Morgenstern got his start in the industry as an accountant for music publishers in New York’s Tin Pan Alley and was involved with celebrated Broadway musicals like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Cabaret,” a passion that would extend to amassing a sizable personal library of hundreds of show scores.

He went on to serve in executive positions at ABC Records International and ABC Music Publishing as well as MCA subsidiaries Infinity Records International and Infinity Music Co. A stint in the UK led to the title of CEO of Anchor Records and of International Music Publishing, the second largest print company in Europe at a time. He was also president and a major stockholder of Theater Maximus, a musical play leasing and music publishing company, located in Los Angeles and New York.

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From 1987 to 2007, Morgenstern served as a member of the Board and Vice Chairman of performance rights organization ASCAP. In addition, he held a seat on the boards of the Country Music Association, the National Music Publishers Association, the Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Henry Mancini Foundation.

Morgenstern retired as Executive Vice President/General Manager of Warner/Chappell Music and CEO of Warner Brothers Publications.

Among his many career accolades, Morgenstern had been awarded the Abe Olman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the MPA Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Publishers Association of the U.S.

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“Jay was an incredible human being, kind, generous and simply one of the greatest publishers in the music business,” said ASCAP President Paul Williams. “He advocated passionately for the music creators that he represented and believed deeply in the power of a song to impact lives. He will be remembered by the many songwriters and composers whose careers he fostered, and the countless songs that he helped deliver to the world. We miss you Jay.”

Added NMPA President & CEO David Israelite: “Jay leaves a great legacy within the music industry, specifically in the publishing and songwriting world. Beyond his work on the NMPA Board, he is remembered for his friendship and his love of the businesses – particularly his love of creators. We are grateful to have benefitted from his wisdom and tireless work, and our thoughts and prayers go out to Joan and the rest of his family.”

Morgenstern is survived by wife Joan, children Marc and Jill, and grandchildren Claire, Dillon, Hope, Jonathan, Morgan and Tory. He was predeceased by his daughter, Fran.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 9 at 11:30am at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills – Mount Sinai Chapel, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California 90068. Memorial donations may be made in his name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

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