In memoriam: Rolf Smedvig (1952-2015)

Rolf Smedvig was best known for his virtuosic performances and for his place as a founding member of the internationally-renowned Empire Brass. He passed away due to a heart attack at the age of 62.


Smedvig started the Empire Brass Quintet in the early 1970s. The group, with performances broadcast performances including Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood  and the Today Show, was the first brass quintet to win a Naumburg foundation award. The group has released twenty-some albums.

In addition to his work with Empire, Smedvig toured as a soloist and performed with orchestras around the world. At the age of 19, he became the assistant principal trumpeter of the Boston Symphony. In 1979, he became the principal trumpet of the orchestra, and left the group in 1981 to focus on his solo playing, chamber music, and his conducting. Smedvig had several solo albums. He made his conducting debut as the director of the Cambridge Chamber Orchestra, a group he recorded with. He was guest conductor of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, Venezuela’s Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra.

Rolf Smedvig is survived by his second wife, two sisters, son, and three daughters

 Source: New York Times item by Margalit Fox and Columbia Artist Management website, both accessed May 4




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