College of Music

University of Colorado Boulder

Maestro Akira Endo, 1938-2014

April 15, 2014

Former CU-Boulder orchestra leader Akira Endo dead at 75

Akira Endo, former director of orchestral studies at the University of Colorado Boulder College of Music, died April 3, 2014. He was 75. 

He was born Nov. 16, 1938 in Shido, Japan to the late Hikataro and Reiko Endo. In 1954 he moved with his family to the United States, where he completed his high-school education. 

He attended the University of Southern California, where he was concertmaster from 1960-62, and graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in music. He later earned a Master’s degree in violin performance. 

He began his teaching career as a professor at Long Beach City College. There he was twice awarded third prize at the prestigious Dimitri Mitropoulos International Competition for Conductors, which proved to be a springboard to national prominence when the late Leonard Bernstein recommended him to the conductor's position at the American Ballet Theater.

During his 10 years with ABT he had the opportunity to for many of the world’s best-known dancers, including Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. He also held positions as the music director for the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the Miami City Ballet and the Colorado Ballet.

Akira also held positions as the principal conductor and music director for the Austin Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the

Long Beach Symphony and the Hamilton Philharmonic in Canada. He appeared as the guest conductor with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Dallas Symphony, the Detroit Symphony, the Milwaukee Symphony, the Louisiana Philharmonic, the Minnesota Orchestra, the San Antonio Symphony, the Utah Symphony and many others, as well as several orchestras and music festivals in Europe and South America. 

He held teaching positions at  at the University of Miami, and Duquesne University and the CU-Boulder, where he retired in 2008. He was also a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Stanford University, Rice University and the University of Oklahoma. 

Maestro Endo recorded extensively during his conducting career. His recording of the 20th Double-Reed Music for Crystal Records with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic earned him a Grammy nomination. 

Akira is survived by his wife of 20 years, Keiko; three children, Stephanie Endo; son Gregory Endo and daughter-in-law Jill; and Julie Gall and son-in-law Roger Gall; five grandchildren, Austin, Kimberly, Cameron, Miles and Danielle; and beloved cats Foggy, Hazy and Dewey.

Please see for information regarding a memorial service which will be held at a later date in Austin, Texas. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be donated to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.