Sidney Rothstein, a nationally renowned conductor who served as the music director of the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra (RSO) from 1995 to 2006, died on Feb. 2 at the age of 80 of natural causes in Wyomissing, Penn.

Born in Philadelphia in 1936, Rothstein began lessons on his grandfather’s violin at the age of 9.

He became an accomplished violinist and violist, earning a degree in music from Temple University.

He followed his dream of learning the art of conducting, receiving formal training from Pierre Monteaux at the Domaine School in Hancock, Maine, and in Europe.

In 1964, while teaching music at Philadelphia Central High School, he founded the Orchestra Society of Philadelphia and was their music director from 1964-1976.

In 1976, the Reading Symphony Board in Reading, Penn invited Rothstein to conduct; several months later he was hired as associate conductor of the Honolulu Symphony.

He commuted from Reading to Honolulu for four years. In 1980 he became music director of the West Virginia Symphony in Charleston and in 1983 he added Music Director and Conductor of the Florida Symphony in Orlando to his workload. Until 1987, he conducted all three orchestras. Because of scheduling conflicts, he eventually gave up the Florida and West Virginia Symphony and moved from NYC to Reading.

From 1995 until 2006 he was the music director of the RSO before retiring.

He is survived by his brother, Edward Rothstein and his wife, Christine, two nephews and a niece.

— by the staff