Edgar Braun, Berkeley conductor, dies

An area musician who conducted several major concerts in the Jewish community died at his Berkeley home on Aug.4.

Edgar Braun was 69.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, on July 4, 1933, Braun came with his family to the United States in 1938.

A few years after their arrival in New York, Braun's father decided to move to San Francisco. An importer of fruits and nuts previously, he began exporting leather once he moved to the United States.

Braun graduated from Lowell High School, U.C. Berkeley and Hastings College of the Law.

He began playing the violin at age 10, considered late to be starting that instrument. While in high school, he told the conductor of the orchestra that he wanted to learn all the instruments. Instead of laughing, the conductor told him, "Try whatever you want," said his wife, Ida.

He played mostly French horn and viola, but he also began conducting while still in high school.

While he practiced tax law for more than 40 years, conducting remained Braun's true love. By the time he died, he had conducted in 16 countries. He founded the Lake Tahoe Music Festival and started the "Twilight Series" at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, and Berkeley New Year's Eve concerts.

A former member of Berkeley's Congregation Beth El, Braun was not very involved in the Jewish community, yet he conducted a concert given in honor of Congregation Emanu-El's 150th anniversary. He also conducted a concert to mark the 25th anniversary of the founding of Israel in 1973.

He also conducted widely at Jewish venues in the East Bay.

Braun is survived by his wife, Ida Gans Braun of Berkeley; son David, daughter Naomi of San Francisco, one grandchild and sister Inge Berliner of San Francisco.

Donations can be sent to the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra, P.O. Box 591566, S.F., CA 95149; Kaiser Hospice, 235 W. MacArthur Blvd., fifth floor, Oakland, CA, 94611, or the Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center, 1414 Walnut St., Berkeley, CA, 94609.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."