The Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center mourns deeply the loss of our dear friend, the wonderful Gustave Hauser, who died on February 14, 2021, at the age of 91. He was the rarest of combinations – brilliant but modest and kind. Blissfully married to the equally extraordinary Rita, they changed forever the worlds they touched with their philanthropy. He recognized before anyone the importance of digital media for the performing arts, and with Rita launched CMS’s global digital media program from Alice Tully Hall. During this pandemic, audiences around the world are reaping the benefits of the huge digital archive CMS has been able to create over years through their generosity. We are forever grateful to have known him and will miss him terribly.
Gustave was born in Cleveland, OH. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University (1950) and Harvard Law School (1953), he completed his military service and then returned to Harvard Law School in the fall of 1955 as an Instructor/Teaching Fellow. Gustave subsequently earned an L.L.M. from New York University Law School and a law diploma from the Law Faculty of the University of Paris, France. He began his business career in the field of international telecommunications. From 1973 to 1983, he was Chairman and CEO of Warner Cable Communications, then the largest company in the cable television industry. He was a recognized leader in that industry, developing programming innovations such as The Movie Channel, pay-per-view and other interactive services, affording viewers a wide range of program choice in their home. His pleasure was visible when those who grew up with Nickelodeon, which he started, told him their children had done the same.
Gustave was someone his colleagues turned to for advice and career guidance as Cable TV became a singular part of the media landscape. Many of his protégés became leaders of the industry; women were given their first opportunity both in front and behind the camera. He established Hauser Communications in 1983, a private company for his many investments in communication companies.
Gustave was a founder of The Paley Center for Media, and served as a Director and Vice Chair of the Board from the Center's inception until he retired at the close of 2018. Modesty was Gustave's hallmark. He and his wife Rita were philanthropists together, supporting innovative legal education at both Harvard and NYU Law Schools. The Hauser Institute for Health Innovation at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital heralded their broad support for telemedicine. Their early initiative established telemedicine at the Hospital for Special Surgery, allowing video conferencing live from any operating room to anywhere in the world. The Harvard Institute for Learning and Teaching is instrumental in the ongoing application of virtual education, especially significant in the time of the COVID Pandemic.
He and Rita shared a great love of classical music, and they underwrote many programs and activities at Lincoln Center, the New York Philharmonic, and the Chamber Music Society. In addition to his wife, he leaves their daughter Ana Burtnett and her husband Daryl, as well as a wonderful grandson who goes by the name of Gustave.