Thursday, April 19, 2012

John Malveaux: ' 'Henry Lewis, who broke racial barriers in the music world'

[Henry Lewis]
Published: January 29, 1996

“Henry Lewis, who broke racial barriers in the music world as the first black conductor and music director of a major American orchestra, the New Jersey Symphony, and as the first black to conduct at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 63. The cause was a heart attack, his former wife, the mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne, said.”

“Though suffering from lung cancer in recent years, he continued to serve as music director of the Opera-Music Theater Institute of New Jersey and of the Netherlands Radio Orchestra, and was a frequent guest conductor for opera companies and symphony orchestras in Europe and America.”

“Mr. Lewis was only 16 when he joined the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Twelve years later, he made his conducting debut with that orchestra. He then founded the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, and was engaged as a guest conductor by top orchestras across the country.” [Emphasis added]

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