In Memoriam – Jay R. Morgenstern, Music Publishing Giant

July 6, 2017

Jay Morgenstern

All of us at ASCAP were saddened to hear about the loss of Jay Morgenstern, a distinguished music business veteran who served on the ASCAP Board for 20 years and on the ASCAP Foundation Board for 15.

ASCAP President Paul Williams reflected, “Jay was an incredible human being, kind, generous and simply one of the greatest publishers in the music business. He advocated passionately for the music creators that he represented and believed deeply in the power of a song to impact lives. He will be remembered by the many songwriters and composers whose careers he fostered, and the countless songs that he helped deliver to the world. We miss you Jay.”


Jay R. Morgenstern died peacefully with his family by his side on July 4, 2017. In a distinguished fifty-year career in music publishing, he was the recipient of the Abe Olman Lifetime Achievement Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the MPA Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Publishers Association of the US.


For more than 20 years, he served as a member of the Board and Vice Chairman of ASCAP (1987 – 2007), and served on the Board of The ASCAP Foundation from 2002 until his passing. He also served on the Boards of the Country Music Association, the National Music Publishers Association, the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Henry Mancini Foundation. After 27 years at Warner/Chappell Music, he retired as its Executive Vice President/General Manager as well as CEO of Warner Brothers Publications. He was also president and a major stockholder of Theater Maximus, a musical play leasing and music publishing company, located in Los Angeles and New York.


He was born on May 3, 1930 in Manhattan, and attended Evander Childs High School in the Bronx and New York University, from which he graduated with a BA in Business at the age of 20. He began his music industry career as an accountant for music publishers in New York’s Tin Pan Alley. He left accounting to take executive positions in the US and England in records and publishing. He served as president and executive vice president/general manager for major companies in the music field including ABC Records International and ABC Music Publishing as well as Infinity Records International and Infinity Music Co. (subsidiaries of MCA), and for Metromedia Records and Music Publishing. In London, he was CEO of Anchor Records (UK) and of International Music Publishing (UK), the second largest print company in Europe. He was closely associated with such celebrated Broadway musicals as Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret, among others, and assembled a remarkable personal library of hundreds of show scores.


Though he never learned to read music, he could be heard over the years humming along to his hi-fi, cassette player and more recently, iPhone, and reflecting about the songwriters, composers and lyricists whom he nurtured over the years.

He was the beloved husband of Joan for sixty-six years, father of Fran, Marc and Jill, father-in-law of Louise, and grandfather of Claire, Dillon, Hope, Jonathan, Morgan and Tory. He was predeceased by his daughter, Fran.


A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 9 at 11:30am at Mount Sinai Hollywood Hills – Mount Sinai Chapel, 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, California 90068. Memorial donations may be made in his name to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.