Former Louisville Orchestra Music Director Lawrence Leighton Smith Dies in Colorado

Lawrence Leighton Smith, who served as music director of the Louisville Orchestra 1983-1994, died Friday at his home in Colorado Springs, Colo. He was 77 years old. Smith died of complications of Binswanger’s disease, a severe form of vascular dementia. 

Smith, who remained conductor laureate with the Louisville Orchestra, enjoyed a distinguished career as a pianist and conductor, including an early stint as assistant conductor of the Metropolitan Opera in the mid-1960s. He was the first American-born musician to conduct the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, and he served as music director for the Oregon Symphony and the Phoenix Symphony, among others.  The Portland native was also music director of the Sunriver Music Festival in Oregon for more than 17 seasons. 

After leaving the Louisville Orchestra, Smith went on to serve as artistic director of the Philharmonia Orchestra of Yale (1995-2004) and became music director of the Colorado Springs Symphony in 2000. Three years later, when the Colorado Springs Philharmonic was formed following the bankruptcy of the Colorado Springs Symphony, Smith became its first music director. He stepped down from his post in 2011 when he fell ill to become music director emeritus. 
 
Plans for a weekend of remembrance (Nov. 16-17) will be announced on his memorial Facebook page.

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