Heroic US conductor dies, aged 105Orchestras
The death is reported in Sweden of Everett Lee, the first African-American to conduct on Broadway and also the first, he claimed, to conduct an established symphony orchestra in the southern states of the USA.
Working in Cleveland as a hotel busboy, Everett Astor Lee was befriended by the conductor Arthur Rodzinski, who sent him to study at the he Cleveland Institute of Music. While standing in as conductor for a college production of Carmen Jones, he was spotted by Leonard Bernstein, who hired him to conduct his Broadway musical, On the Town.
Although he got to conduct Traviata at New York City Opera, opportunities in the US were scarce and he moved to Sweden on becoming chief conductor of the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra in 1962. Later, he was music director in Bogota, Colombia.
Lee’s first wife, the voice coach Sylvia Olden Lee, was the first African-American musician to be employed by the Met.
Lee, who was born in ugust 1916, died Lee died on January 12, 2022 in Malmö, Sweden.