Henry Lewis, a classical musician and conductor who led the way for blacks in his profession, died Friday at 63.
The cause was a heart attack, said his former wife, the mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne.
He was the first black conductor and music director of a major American orchestra and in 1972 he was the first black conductor at New York’s Metropolitan Opera.
In 1948, at 16 years old, he also became the first black instrumentalist with a major orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
During his 47-year career, Lewis conducted the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, bringing it from near-obscurity in 1968 to national renown.