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.