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Donald Johanos, 79; led Honolulu Symphony, champion of new music

June 07, 2007|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Donald Johanos, 79, a conductor and music director known for championing new music, died May 29 at his home in Naples, Fla., after a long illness.

From 1979 to 1994, Johanos led the Honolulu Symphony and was credited with significantly raising the orchestra's quality.

"His legacy is that he recognized the good young musicians he had and was quick to utilize our unique place in the Pacific, incorporating Hawaiian music," Bob Sandla, former executive director of the symphony, told the Honolulu Star Bulletin last week.

Johanos led the Dallas Symphony for most of the 1960s and made several noted recordings with the group, including works by Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Ives and Copland.

Through much of the 1970s, Johanos was associate conductor of the Pittsburgh Symphony.

Johanos was born Feb. 10, 1928, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and played violin with the local symphony while still in high school. He earned degrees in violin and music theory from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y.

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