Lee Berk Cause of Death, Former Berklee President Dead

By | October 23, 2023

Lee Berk, former Berklee president and college namesake, dies at 81

Lee Eliot Berk, who served for 25 years as president of Berklee College of Music, has died, the school announced on Instagram Sunday. He was 81.

As the school’s second president, Berk succeeded his father, Lawrence, who founded Berklee. In 1954, Lawrence renamed the former Schillinger House in Boston, a pioneering jazz school, after his only son, inverting Lee Berk’s name to form Berklee.


During Berk’s tenure as president, Berklee greatly expanded in size and reach, becoming a world-renowned leader in contemporary music education. The college expanded to 17 buildings and expanded its course and degree offerings in music production and engineering, songwriting, and music therapy.

Berk was also an academic leader in teaching the legal side of the music business. He wrote a book, “Legal Protection for the Creative Musician” (1970), which was awarded the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for best book in music in 1971 and became a text for his course on music law.

Berk is survived by his wife, Susan, and their daughters, Nancy and Lucy.


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