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January 20, 2015

Obituary: Yoko Nagae Ceschina, Countess and Arts Patron

Countess Yoko Nagae Ceschina, who became a leading benefactor of prestigious classical-music ensembles and venues around the world after inheriting a fortune of nearly $190-million, died in Rome earlier this month at age 82, writes The New York Times.

Ms. Ceschina endowed the music director's chair at the New York Philharmonic and sponsored the orchestra's landmark 2008 trip to perform in North Korea. She also supported Carnegie Hall, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, and the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, among other organizations.

A native of Japan and a musician from an early age, Ms. Ceschina met her future husband, Italian noble Renzo Ceschina, when she went to Venice in the early 1960s to study harp. He died in 1982, five years after they married. She shunned the philanthropic limelight and the size of her gifts was rarely revealed. Asked by the Times about the cost of the North Korea trip, Zarin Mehta, former president of the New York Philharmonic, said Ms. Ceschina "would be aghast if I said anything about the numbers."