Donald (Don) Pippin, the last living recipient of the Tony Award for Best Conductor and Musical Director, passed away June 9. He was 95. The news was confirmed by Mr. Pippin's longtime mentee and fellow Broadway musician Larry Blank.
Born November 25, 1926 in Macon, Georgia, Mr. Pippin studied Piano at Juilliard before making his Broadway debut in 1955 as the dance arranger for the comedy Ankles Aweigh. In the 1960s, he established himself as an ever-reliable music director, winning the penultimate 1963 Tony Award for Best Conductor and Musical Director for his work on the original production of Oliver! before the honor was discontinued in 1965.
Mr. Pippin was at the baton of the original Broadway productions of 110 in the Shade, Foxy, Ben Franklin in Paris, Applause, Seesaw, A Chorus Line, A Broadway Musical, and Woman of the Year, but it is for his collaborations with composer Jerry Herman that he is most remembered.
Together, the pair presented Mame, Dear World, Mack and Mabel, The Grand Tour, and La Cage Aux Folles, and Mr. Pippin was Mr. Herman's most trusted vocal arranger. His arrangements were also used in the revue Jerry's Girls, a compendium of Mr. Herman's which Mr. Pippin supervised.
Pippin was also the conductor for many nationally-televised Miss America broadcasts held in Atlantic City, New Jersey from 1988 to 1992.
His final Broadway credit was the 2018 revival of Hello, Dolly!, for which he again provided vocal arrangements.
He is survived by the many musicians whose lives he enriched.