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Louis Sudler, businessman and force behind orchestra, dies

CHICAGO -- Louis Courtenay Sudler, a partner in a Chicago real estate firm and a major benefactor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra who once sang at a homecoming celebration for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, has died. He was 89.

Sudler, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, died Tuesday in his Gold Coast apartment, his son, Louis C. Sudler Jr., said.

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Sudler served as board chairman of the Orchestral Association, the parent of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, from 1966 to 1972 and had been chairman emeritus since 1977.

The CSO struggled during the 1960s but under Sudler's guidance, its luster returned with the hiring of John S. Edwards as general manager. Edwards hired Georg Solti as music director.

'I mourn the death of my longtime friend, Louis Sudler,' said Solti in Austria where he was attending the Salzburg Festival. 'He was a man of great vision.'

Sudler raised money for the orchestra's trip to Carnegie Hall in 1970 and a European tour in 1971. He was one of the one of the largest contributors to the orchestra.

He was a senior partner in Sudler and Co., now Sudler Nagy, which managed more than 10,000 cooperative and condominium apartments, including those in the posh John Hancock Center and Water Tower Place.

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Sudler dreamt of becoming a singer. He included music training in his studies at Yale University where he sang in the Glee Club and the Whiffenpoofs. At age 42, Sudler sang the role of Silvio in 'I Pagliacci' with the Chicago Civic Opera.

In his baritone voice, he sang 'The Star-Spangled Banner' at three political conventions and at the homecoming celebration for Gen. Douglas MacArthur at Soldier Field.

Sudler continued taking daily voice lessons into his 80s.

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