A lifetime classical music devotee whose family history in Los Angeles dates back to the 19th century bequeathed $6 million to the USC Thornton School of Music and $2 million to KUSC, the nation’s largest nonprofit classical music radio station, it was announced Friday.
Edward Judd Zobelein, who died in July 2017 at the age of 74, was a longtime supporter of USC Thornton and KUSC Classical 91.5 FM, which plans to run on-air acknowledgements of his gift for the next two years.
For Zobelein, listening to classical music on KUSC brought a special comfort and happiness to each day, according to his family, especially when failing health made sleeping difficult.
“Edward Judd Zobelein lived and breathed classical music,” said his sister, Linda Zobelein Koss, a USC graduate of the USC Roski School of Art and Design. “He found total solace and peace in playing his flute, going to concerts at the Hollywood Bowl or Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and listening daily to KUSC. Although Ed did not attend college, the Zobelein family connection/legacy to USC spans multiple generations, which is why he chose to donate to the university.”
Zobelein’s grandmother inspired his love of classical music as a youth and took him to concerts regularly, including the Los Angeles Flute Club’s annual concerts in 1957 and 1960 in USC’s Hancock Auditorium. In that venue, now called Newman Recital Hall, USC Thornton is planning a display and plaque in honor of Zobelein’s gift.
Zobelein, who played the flute and piccolo, performed concerts with San Marino High School’s concert band — he was a 1961 graduate of the school — and as a member of the San Gabriel Valley Junior Symphony.
“We are so honored and grateful that Edward Judd Zobelein chose to make this gift to KUSC after many years of constant and quiet support,” said KUSC President Judy McAlpine. “Every day we try to touch people with the transformative power of classical music. This gift to our endowment will help ensure that we are able to continue our mission for years to come.”
Robert Cutietta, dean of the USC Thornton School of Music, said: “Music holds such meaning in the lives of so many people. We are thrilled to carry Edward’s passion forward to train future generations of exceptional musicians.”
The Zobelein family history in Los Angeles dates back to 1869, when Edward’s great-grandfather George Zobelein, son of a master brewer, emigrated from Germany. With business partner and fellow immigrant Joseph Maier, George established the Maier-Zobelein Brewery in 1882. Twenty-five years later, Zobelein purchased the Los Angeles Brewing Company, which became known as the Eastside Brewing Company. In the late ’50s, Eastside Old Tap Lager sponsored Dodger games on radio and television; in 1962, it started selling its brews at Dodger Stadium.
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