Born: 1914 (?) - Albany, Western Australia
Died: December 6, 1988 - Interstate 5 near Sorrento Valley, California, USA (car accident)
The Australian-born American concert pianist and conducor, Leslie Hodge, began playing the piano when he was 4 and was performing solo concerts at the age of 11. He took his post-graduate degree in music from the University of Melbourne before emigrating to the USA.
Leslie Hodge conducted the WPA Portland Federal Symphony Orchestra (later renamed Oregon Symphony Orchestra) for one season, from May 1938 through May 1939. During World War II, he joined the Navy as an apprentice seaman and participated in four invasions of Italy and the Murmansk supply run to Russia during World War II.
In February 1942, during 400th foundation celebration of Guadalajara (Mexico), as Leslie Hodge was strolling about the city he heard some musicians interpret several classical pieces of music; he approached the musicians with the purpose of knowing who they were and encouraged them to form an orchestra. He was then invited as organizer and conductor. At that time, his commitments did not allow him but he promised that he would be back once World War II ended. So the Asociacion de Amigos de la Musica (Music Friends Association) requested the then Governor Marcelino Garcia Barragan that the orchestra remained in view of Maestro Hodge’s offering who was to become the first conductor of the Guadalajara Symphonic Orchestra (later renamed Jalisco Philarmonic Orchestra). The sponsorship was maintained until 1950 when Conciertos Guadalajara, A.C. was formed taking control over the Orchestra, which was supported by subsidies from the state and city governments and the private sector. Hodge held this post until 1950.
Leslie Hodge served as the first resident director of the San Diego Philharmonic, predecessor to the San Diego Symphony, from 1950 to 1951LA Times or 1952Orlando Sentinel. The Philharmonic produced a winter series of concerts from 1950 to 1953 in the old Russ Auditorium. As conductor, Hodge was instrumental in helping the players of the San Diego Symphony realize a "year-round" season during this period. He was known for his warmth and harmonious relations with musicians when he served as Philharmonic At the time, the symphony had only a summer classical music series. Hodge also pioneered a series of children's concerts with the Philharmonic.
Leslie Hodge was the founding conductor of the Guadalajara Symphony in Mexico, where he spent seven years, learning Spanish in the process of making music. He was conductor of the Phoenix Symphony from 1952 to 1959. He spent six years as a guest conductor in West Germany and other countries. He guest conducted orchestras around the world.
Leslie Hodge, who lived in La Jolla, taught piano in Los Angeles for 18 years. He was killed December 6, 1988 in an automobile accident on Interstate 5 near Sorrento Valley. He was 75. He was survived by his wife, Barbara, and four stepdaughters, J. Lauren Bellinger and Megan, Alison and Cameron Bardrick.