Teresa Sterne

Teresa Sterne had two great careers in music, first as a child prodigy pianist, then as one of the first women record producers in the US. Sterne began performing at age eleven and debuted as a soloist with the NBC Symphony Orchestra at age twelve. A year later, she performed with the New York Philharmonic. Her early career was very successful—the composer David Broekman wrote a sonata for her—but in her twenties she left music to support her family as a secretary and model. After a few years at Hurok Records and Columbia Records, she became director of Nonesuch Records in 1965, making the fledgling label a force in modern and classical music, and offering a venue for composers like Elliott Carter and pianists Paul Jacobs and Gilbert Kalish. She launched the Explorer Series to capture on-site recordings from across the world and created important recordings of lesser-known composers like Stravinsky and Schoenberg. Protests rocked the classical music world after she was fired in 1979. When she was diagnosed with ALS at 73, friends in the music industry issued a two-disc set in her honor, one featuring Sterne’s own early performances, the second highlighting her favorite recordings.

Topics: Music

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Tracey Rosenbaum made her professional debut as the solo pianist Teresa Sterne at the age of twelve, but was forced by financial limitations to give up her budding career. She applied her musical talents instead to the recording industry, becoming the first woman in America to guide the destinies of a prominent record label.

Institution: London Times / Nonesuch Records

Date of Birth

Brooklyn, NY
United States

Date of Death
Musician, Entrepreneur

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Teresa Sterne." (Viewed on June 23, 2021) <https://jwa.org/people/sterne-teresa>.


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