The first Black conductor of a major American orchestra, Henry Lewis, dies of a heart attack.
1996 (Jan 26)
Famed conductor Henry Jay Lewis died of a heart attack in New York City. Lewis was named conductor of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in 1968, the first Black conductor of a major American orchestra. He was well known for attempting to make performances more available to the working class, often holding free outdoor concerts. Lewis was also the first Black American to conduct New York City's Metropolitan Opera in 1972. He was born on October 16, 1932, in Los Angeles, California.