Feb. 11, 1939 New York County (Manhattan) New York, USA
Sep. 7, 2008 Cook County Illinois, USA
Chicago Tribune (IL) - Friday, September 12, 2008
Jay A. Baylin combined financial savvy with a deep knowledge and appreciation of classical music to help keep Music of the Baroque fiscally and artistically vibrant during his 27 years on the group's board of directors. Mr. Baylin, 69, a Gold Coast resident, died of complications from esophageal cancer Sunday, Sept. 7, in Northwestern Memorial Hospital, said his daughter Julie Forgash. Mr. Baylin joined Music of the Baroque's board in 1981 and became chairman in 1987, shortly after executive music director Lucille Ollendorff was killed in a car accident on Lake Shore Drive while returning from a concert in Evanston. Music of the Baroque, founded in 1972 to perform music composed between roughly 1600 and 1750, was about $200,000 in arrears, a substantial amount given its annual budget at the time probably totaled about $800,000, said Leland Hutchinson, the group's current board chairman. Mr. Baylin set about building the group's bottom line. He coaxed donations from the well-heeled and persuaded capable and prominent Chicagoans to join Music of the Baroque's board. "Jay kept the organization alive," Hutchinson said. "Jay was the best salesman I ever met in my life." Mr. Baylin remained chairman for nine years. An accomplished financial planner by profession and an enthusiastic amateur pianist, Mr. Baylin imposed budgetary discipline. But he also made the musicians happy because he understood what was needed to produce various musical works, said Elliott Golub, the group's retired concertmaster. "He was always very available," Golub said. "He had a sympathetic ear, and he could understand what you were trying to say in musical terms." A niche player in the larger world of classical music dominated by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Lyric Opera, Music of the Baroque today has an annual budget of about $1.8 million and is firmly entrenched in the city's cultural landscape. "He thought it was important for people to appreciate classical music," his daughter said. "He really enjoyed promoting the appreciation and awareness of classical music." The son of an optician, Mr. Baylin grew up in the Bronx and started taking piano lessons at age 4. He took a hiatus from lessons when he started at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, but returned to playing piano some years later, taking lessons through adulthood. At Miami University, he majored in accounting to please his parents (his mother was a bookkeeper and thought the profession more stable than the path he had mapped for himself). But he took enough classes in finance to pursue his interest in becoming a stockbroker, his daughter said. He worked for a brokerage in California before moving to Glencoe in the mid-1960s. Over the years, he worked at a succession of firms, including Kidder Peabody, A.G. Becker and Oppenheimer.