The Theodora Zavin Scholarship is granted annually to a graduating senior musician at Manhattan’s prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, and recognizes outstanding achievement in composition. The $2,000 award was established in 2005 through the generosity of friends, family, and colleagues to honor the memory of Theodora Zavin, Founding President of the BMI Foundation.
Theodora Zavin, a senior executive at BMI from 1952 to 2001, was legendary in the music copyright community for her fierce defense of the rights of musical composers. Over her long career she also developed close personal relationships with many seminal composers including John Williams, Lionel Newman, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick, Alan Menken and Maury Yeston. In 1985, Zavin gathered a group of BMI executives to form the separate not-for-profit BMI Foundation, Inc. She served as the Foundation’s President from 1985 to 2001 and as President Emeritus until the time of her death in 2004. Under her direction, the BMI Foundation created many of its core programs, such as the John Lennon Scholarships, the Pete Carpenter Fellowship, the Lionel Newman Conducting Scholarship, the Boudleaux Bryant Commissions and the Carlos Surinach Commissions.
A graduate of Hunter College, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and The Columbia School of Law, where she was Notes and Comments Editor of the Law Review, she served as President of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., was a member of the United States Copyright Office Advisory Committee, and the Copyright Committee of the Bar Association of the City of New York. Internationally, she represented American interests as a leader of the Legal and Legislative Committee of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC).
In 1965, she was appointed Vice President of Performing Rights at BMI, leading the company for more than 20 years during one of its most dramatic periods of growth, personally signing representation agreements with such songwriter/artists as Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, Billy Joel, Carole King, Mort Shuman and Doc Pomus, and Neil Sedaka, such legendary Brill Building music publishers as Don Kirschner and Al Nevins, and international figures such as Beatles’ publisher Dick James.
Zavin wrote prolifically for leading law journals on copyright and was co-author of several books aimed at demystifying and making the law accessible to the layman, including Rights and Writers and Your Marriage and the Law. One of the music industry’s best-known hostesses, Zavin also authored two well-received cookbooks, The Working Wives Cookbook with Fredda Stuart, and The Everybody Bring a Dish Cookbook. Among her many accolades, Zavin was honored by the Entertainment, Arts and Sports Law Division of the New York State Bar Association, by the Young Musicians Foundation, by the Association of Independent Music Publishers, was inducted into the Hunter College Hall of Fame and honored as the Executive of the Year by the United Jewish Appeal.
By invitation only, no applications accepted