Producer to the stars adept at pop and classical music

NEW YORK • Ettore Stratta, who produced records by stars such as Barbra Streisand and Tony Bennett and conducted symphonic arrangements of everything from bossa nova to the music of Andrew Lloyd Webber, died on July 9 in Manhattan. He was 82.

His death was confirmed by his wife and business partner, Pat Philips. She said the cause had not been determined but that Stratta had suffered strokes and a heart attack.

Stratta's output and taste were eclectic.

A classically trained conductor who worked with the London, Melbourne and Royal Philharmonic symphony orchestras, he produced Bennett's The Art Of Excellence (1986) and Streisand's Je M'Appelle Barbra (1970) and worked with artists including Chaka Khan, Ray Charles, Lena Horne and Dave Brubeck. He also released many records conducting his own orchestra, Fantasy Strings.

He and Philips first worked together in 1988 on an 80th- birthday concert at Carnegie Hall for jazz violinist Stephane Grappelli, at which cellist Yo-Yo Ma performed Pennies From Heaven with Grappelli and his trio.

Philips and Stratta became known for presenting genre- crossing concerts at Avery Fisher Hall, Rose Hall, Birdland and elsewhere, as well as Carnegie

Hall tributes to bossa nova composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, saxophonist and clarinettist Paquito D'Rivera and jazz pianist George Shearing.

They also produced festivals in New York devoted to the music of jazz guitarist Django Reinhardt and to the intersection of tango and jazz.

Stratta conducted and produced albums devoted to symphonic adaptations of different musical forms, including Symphonic Tango and Symphonic Boleros. His Symphonic Elvis was recorded, appropriately, by the Memphis Symphony Orchestra in 1996.

Stratta told The Associated Press in 1991 that he would not produce music that did not interest him. "If you're not really excited by the artist or the concept, I wouldn't want to do it," he said.

Ettore Carlo Teresa Stratta was born in Cuneo, a small town in northern Italy.

He grew up attending the opera with his father, learnt to play the piano when he was five and had formed a band by the time he was a teenager.

He studied civil engineering in high school and music in Rome before serving in the Italian military, where he mostly played the piano and conducted quartets, from 1951 until 1953.

In 1958, he married Cecile Homer. They later divorced.

He came to the United States in 1959 and got a job at a Columbia Records pressing plant on Long Island. He moved up through the ranks and, in 1963, became the manager of the label's international artists-and-repertoire division. He left to pursue a career as a conductor and producer.

He and Philips married in 1998. Stratta, who lived in Manhattan, is also survived by two sons and two stepsons.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 21, 2015, with the headline 'Producer to the stars adept at pop and classical music'. Print Edition | Subscribe