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Talented international conductor, James DePreist, passed away last Friday at age 76.
Born in 1936 in Philadelphia, DePreist was the nephew of contalto Marian Anderson. After studying composition at the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music and attending the University of Pennsylvania, DePreist began his career conducting during a State Department-sponsored Asia tour, according to NPR.
It was on this tour in 1962 that DePreist contracted polio in Bangkok. The disease left the musician paralyzed in both legs, an impediment which did not deter his quickly accelerating career, according to Star Tribune. Just two years after his illness, DePreist went on to win the Dmitri Mitropoulos International Music Competition for Conductors.
From then on, DePreist went on to work around the world, starting as the assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic for the 1965 season, according to the New York Times. The New York Times further lists his accomplishments as including positions such as associate conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington, music director for the Quebec Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor with the Malmo Symphony Orchestra in Sweden, music director of the Oregon Symphony from 1980-2003, National Medal of Arts winner, permanent conductor of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra, and time spent as the director of conducting and orchestral studies at Julliard.
DePreist, who is also immortalized as an anime character in Nodame Cantabile, died in Scottsdale, Ariz. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, according to the New York Times.