In 2019, Saint Ignatius of Antioch Episcopal Church was honored to receive support from the JKW Foundation for the establishment of an exciting new music series, created to celebrate the life of the late Jean Stein: writer, editor, and generous patron of the arts. The inaugural Jean Stein Memorial Concert, featuring Saint Ignatius’ own Melius Consort and renowned professional Choir, will be presented on May 19, 2019.
ABOUT JEAN STEIN
In the words of her daughters, Katrina and Wendy vanden Heuvel
Our beloved, brave and beautiful mother Jean Stein was a writer, an editor, and oral historian. Her 1956 interview with William Faulkner in The Paris Review, where she was an editor from 1956 to 1959, set a standard for the Review's interviews for decades to come. For more than a decade, from 1989 to 2004, she published and edited one of the country's leading literary and visual arts magazines, Grand Street. The quarterly journal discovered the most brilliant voices and images of an emerging generation of writers and artists. It also published great writers, scientists and intellectuals: Lewis Thomas, Edward Said, Mike Davis, Norman Mailer, Joan Didion, Lydia Davis, William Vollman, Andrew Kopkind, Saul Steinberg, Terry Southern, William Eggleston, Fiona Shaw, Kenzaburo Oe, John Kenneth Galbraith, Ottessa Moshfegh, Hilton Als, John Waters and many more.
Her 1970 book, "American Journey: The Times of Robert Kennedy" documented the funeral train, its characters, torment and pageantry. Her "Edie: An American Biography" was a pathbreaking oral history – an eclectic mix of direct testimonies, history and extraordinary tales. It found a great audience, especially among younger readers, and inspired a new generation of oral historians. It was a New York Times bestseller for months. (On both “Edie” and “American Journey, George Plimpton was an invaluable collaborator.) Her last book, "West of Eden" was acclaimed in a front-page New York Times book review. The book, the review noted, created "something new, an oral-history-cum-autobiography."
Jean Stein was born in Chicago to Doris and Jules Stein. Her father Jules, who was an ophthalmologist before founding MCA, was the mastermind of Hollywood's business and byzantine halls. She was a product of that world – but, more important, she was an observant and astute chronicler of Hollywood's influence on America's past, present and future. Her interviews with Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Saul Steinberg, Alberto Giacometti, Cuban elites and revolutionaries, were published in a wide range of outlets. From 1954-56 she apprenticed to Elia Kazan on the sets of "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "Baby Doll," and later worked as a co-producer on "What's Going On Here?," a 1963 satirical television series for Channel 5, directed by Jonathan Miller, which moved to the Ed Sullivan Show.
Jean had a talent for gathering the most interesting people – often a fascinating cross-pollination of poets and politicians, musicians, troublemakers, journalists, whistleblowers, actors, writers and artists. She had a strong commitment to civil rights, and to justice for the Palestinian people – quietly supporting various groups, publishing houses, media outlets and writers working to advance those issues. She was a board member of the Barenboim-Said Foundation, a fundraiser for defendants in the Pentagon Papers trial, Co-Chair with Felicia Bernstein of the Committee to Reform Parole Laws of New York State, and a board member of the Martin Luther King Foundation.
Our mother was passionate (and learned) about classical music — often listening to Handel’s music. A longtime patron of St Ann’s Warehouse, she quietly supported many cultural institutions in NY and globally, including serving from 1976 to 2005 as a board member of the Pompidou Foundation. Her kindness, gentleness, generosity of spirit, independent mind, intellectual curiosity, and her beguiling smile are greatly missed by us, and by her many friends. Her influence on our country's cultural life was quiet, but clear and sure.