I just attended the touching, moving celebration of the life of Gil Kaplan, who died January 1 of this year.
I worked for Gil in the late 1970s, as a writer for Institutional Investor magazine, which he had founded in 1966, when he was 26 years old. II was an instant success, the first magazine devoted to Wall Street that emphasized the people and human-interest stories in a lively and irreverent fashion, without compromising accuracy.
Institutional Investor was only the beginning of Gil’s remarkable and wondrous career and life.
Gil married Lena Biorck, a Swedish beauty he met on an East Hampton beach. Because Lena’s father was the physician to the King of Sweden, Gil was introduced to Sweden’s royal circles, a further enrichment of his life. Gil adored Lena. Their marriage was perfect. They had four children and eight grandchildren. They were a beautiful and happy family.
Gil continued to manage II. He sold the magazine for a handsome price, bought it back at a lower price, and sold it again at an even higher price. His financial abilities supported a collection of Surrealist art, and Gil’s next career step: music.
Incredibly, Gil, uneducated in music and unable to read a musical score, became a conductor of one of the most difficult symphonies, Gustav Mahler’s #2. In 1982 Dave and I were among the audience—all of us amazed—when Gil conducted the American Symphony Orchestra in Mahler’s #2, Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center, his first attempt. As he said immediately after, “We even managed to finish together!” He stunned not only his friends, but also music professionals and critics, and over the course of three decades conducted Mahler in sixty-five different concert halls worldwide. He became an expert on Mahler and a sought-after lecturer on Mahler’s music and life.
I found it a joy to work with Gil. At Institutional Investor he became a lifelong friend—I was one of his many friends. Zankel Hall at Carnegie Hall was filled, as some thousand of us paid tribute to Gil and his storied life. Gil had planned to write his memoir, but time ran out. I hear that it may be written for him. Friends, including me, are being asked to contribute thoughts and experiences with Gil for a book about him. I hope the book happens. In any case I will never forget Gil, or the extraordinary celebration of his life.