obit template2018-11-29T12:10:12+00:00


Telemachus Lesbines, 87, passed away peacefully on November 9, 2015.

Tele was born in Middletown, CT on October 29, 1928 to Harry and Marika (née Xenelis) Lesbines.

Long-time resident of Milwaukee, Tele was the principal percussionist and timpanist of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for thirty years. He was also a dedicated teacher, working to instill his passion for music at such institutions as the Milwaukee Conservatory, Alverno College and UWM, compiling a long list of successful former students. Tele earned a B.A. from the Hartt School of Music in addition to private instruction with leading players and teachers in the country. Anyone who knew Tele knew that his love for music was at the heart of who he was. He was happiest when he was passing along this love to others.

Tele is survived by his former wife Elsie (née Terafino) and five children, Andrew (Katherine Bowes), Christopher, Gregory, Diana (Alex) Braier, and Melissa; seven grandchildren who were the light of his life; Zachary, Rebecca, Andrew, Elena, Anthony, Sophia and Ari; and a brother and sister; Nicholas R. Lesbines and Athena Nisotis. Funeral and burial will take place privately with his immediate family.

Contributions in his honor can be mailed to the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra, 325 W. Walnut Street, Milwaukee, WI 53212. (Checks should be made payable to “Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra” or “MYSO.” Please write “In Memory of Tele Lesbines” in the memo portion of your check). Donations can also be made online at – when donating online, list Tele Lesbines in the gift designation section.

Past Comments

Tobie Wilkinson

I am deeply saddened to hear of Tele’s passing. I was a student of Tele’s for nearly 5 years as a high school student. I had 9 am lessons with Tele every Saturday at his home in Milwaukee in his basement which was loaded with instruments, mallets, drawers of music, and lots of wonderful memories for me. He was my mentor, he was my inspiration, he was a brilliant performer, and he was a friend. I owe my career to him on so many levels. He was a dedicated teacher and advocate for the percussive arts. I will honor his legacy by passing on to my students what I have learned, and am forever in his debt. RIP Tele, we shall miss you.

Beth Milovich

I never knew Tele personally but feel that I did because I know his daughter, Diana. Diana often speaks with pride of her father’s musical talent and his love for classical music, and of how he passed that love along to his family and students. Tobie’s post above is evidence of what she describes. Diana is herself a wonderful legacy of Tele. She is a beautiful, talented woman who is a tremendously thoughtful and caring friend. Our prayers are with all your whole family as you walk through this very difficult passage.

Mary Natvig

Dear Diana and Melissa,
I’m so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing. I remember going to the MSO concerts when I was a kid and always liked to watch your dad…mostly because I knew you, but also because he moved around more than anyone else on stage 🙂
My thoughts are with you.

Bettye Nimmer

Our family is very saddened to hear of Tele’s passing. Our oldest son, Jeremy, took lessons with Tele for many years on Saturday mornings in his basement. We first met Tele when our son auditioned for MYSO’s Wind Ensemble in 6th grade. Jer was accepted into the MYSO group as one of the youngest students, and someone suggested Tele as an instructor to guide and mentor him with the timpanis and other instruments that he had not experienced in his grade school music. I remember him as a quiet man, but a very accomplished percussionist himself and a superb teacher! Our son flourished and progressed to the MYSO Senior Symphony by 9th grade. He was able to perform at Carnegie Hall with the Sr. Symphony in his first year with the group. He also was invited to join the UWM Wind Ensemble and perform with them in Australia. Currently, our son continues to perform in various wind ensemble groups in the Boston area as one of his avocations. None of that would have happened, I’m sure, without the support and expert instruction from Tele.
Tele also loaned us timpanis, xylophones and various mallets over the years. He was a very generous man in spirit and deed. We will treasure our memories of him, how he enriched our lives, and enabled our son’s musical accomplishments .

Kenny Soule

Just now learned of Tele’s passing. I was his student back in the mid 60s, when he and his family lived in Wethersfield, CT. Thanks to my time spent with him, I have a strong foundation in our treasured drum works, like George Stone’s Stick Control, and Ted Reed’s Syncopation. Respects to the family, and R.I.P. Tele Lesbines.
Kenny Soule, Queens NYC

One Comment

  1. Jim Jacobsen September 3, 2022 at 9:24 am - Reply

    Tele was a great guy and a mentor to many, including one of my very close friends. A few years after we graduated from the Conservatory (back when it was a degree-giving institution) we were making a pop record in Chicago. Tele lent us a (very expensive) bass marimba for the recording sessions. He was just generous and kind like that. The estimable Margaret Hawkins, my mentor, loved him.

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