Gerhardt Zimmermann death: Former Canton Symphony conductor dies after lung disease

Gerhardt Zimmermann
Music director Gerhardt Zimmermann passed away


Gerhardt Zimmermann, a well-known Music Director/Conductor at Canton Symphony Orchestra has passed away at the age of 77. Let’s see how did Zimmermann die and his cause of death in detail.

How did Gerhardt Zimmermann die?

US music director Gerhardt Zimmermann passed away on June 10, 2023. This sad news was announced by his family by sharing the following statement.

It is with deep sadness that we announce the sudden and unexpected passing of Gerhardt Zimmermann, a remarkable man whose indomitable spirit and unwavering determination inspired all who knew him. Gerhart departed this world on June 10, 2023, at the age of 77, after a flair of lung disease that started one week prior to his death. Unfortunately, it was rapidly progressive and unresponsive to treatment. He is leaving behind a legacy of resilience, musical excellence, and unwavering love for his family.

Canton Symphony Orchestra has also posted a tribute to him, in the following Facebook post.


Who was Gerhardt Zimmermann?

Gerhardt Zimmermann was born on June 22, 1945, in Van Wert, Ohio. He was graduated from the University of Iowa. He lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Gerhardt enjoyed playing second base for the Cincinnati Reds. When he acquired polio at age 7, it changed his life forever and left him paralyzed from the neck down.

His tenacity for life and perseverance allowed him to overcome the constraints put upon him by the illness, whereas many would have been sidelined by such an illness.

He developed a passion for music, picked up the trumpet, and discovered a new dream: joining the marching band.

He left Van Wert High School after receiving his diploma and enrolled at Bowling Green State University with the intention of joining the band. 

But after discovering himself playing trumpet while seated in an orchestra for the first time, he recalled, “It was as if the heavens opened up” and from that point on, a director was what he desired to be.

Musical career:

Gerhardt continued his studies of symphonic music at the Universities of Bowling Green and Iowa. This sparked a fire in his heart that would never go out for orchestral music. It was always about the music throughout his 50-year career as a symphony conductor.

Gerhardt possessed the amazing talent of inspiring orchestras to perform to the highest standards. Together, the musicians and conductor created emotional landscapes and ignited the souls of audiences all around the world by bringing music to life. 

He had long tenures at the St. Louis Symphony, the North Carolina Symphony, the Breckenridge Music Festival, the University of Texas at Austin, and the Canton Symphony Orchestra.

He had the privilege of conducting across the globe, from Scotland to Costa Rica, from Carnegie Hall to Hawaii. His commitment to music is commemorated at the Zimmermann Symphony Centre in Canton, Ohio. He will always be known as “the poet of the podium”.

Gerhardt Zimmermann cause of death:

Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann passed away from a lung disease. Despite his tremendous professional accomplishments, Gerhardt’s family was his greatest source of happiness. 

He is renowned for his quick wit, dry sense of humor, loud sneezes, and ability to hum and whistle constantly. He leaves behind his 49-year-old wife Sharon, his daughter Anna (and her husband Chris), his son Peter, his wife Ashley and grandchildren Trinity Rose, Emmeline Abigail, Lincoln Christopher, Elizabeth Marie, Heidi Grace, and Zoe Faith, and his puppy Troubadour.

Tributes flooded social media after his sudden demise news broke out.

Tributes to Gerhardt Zimmermann:

Stephen Chicurel-Stein posted,

Gerhardt Zimmermann died this morning. He was one of my first conducting teachers, when he was the Assistant Conductor of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and I was a precocious high schooler. Gary always took me seriously, pushed me hard (but always positively) to look deeper into and draw meaning from music, and left an indelible impression upon me and so many other musicians. His legacy will be a blessing for so many; his beloved family, the countless musicians of the Canton Symphony, North Carolina Symphony most especially, where his long and successful tenure inspired so many in the hall as well as onstage.
Rest in Peace, Maestro

Nick Brown posted,

Rest in peace Gerhardt Zimmermann. I will never forget my experiences in your orchestra at UT. Thank you, rest easy, toi toi toi

Tulsa Symphony posted,

The Tulsa Symphony Board, staff and musicians are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of one of our most beloved conductors, Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.

Akron Symphony Orchestra posted,

Our sincere condolences to our colleagues and friends at the Canton Symphony on the loss of Gerhardt Zimmermann. We echo and applaud the Maestro’s words to the musical community, “May music always be your guide, and may the passion in your hearts continue to ignite the souls of your audiences. Never stop pursuing the beauty that lies within each note.”

Jason Rusnok posted,

I’m saddened learning of the passing of Maestro Gerhardt Zimmermann, the longtime Music Director of the Canton Symphony Orchestra. I’ve had the pleasure of dozens of performances, over the years, of this gem of an orchestra (right in our own backyard).


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