June 2 2016 12:37 PM

Former Lansing Symphony maestro Gustav Meier dead at 86

THURSDAY, June 2 — Conductor and former Lansing Symphony Orchestra music director Gustav Meier died Friday at 86.

The Swiss-born composer led the Lansing Symphony for 27 seasons, starting in 1978. In 2006, he handed over the reigns of the orchestra to Timothy Muffitt.

“Gustav, both as a teacher and conductor, was a very important figure in American music,” Muffitt said in a statement released by the orchestra today. “He influenced many generations of young musicians, including a great many conductors that occupy prominent posts throughout the country and the world. I felt very fortunate to have him as a friend and very proud to follow him into the LSO music directorship. He will be greatly missed.”

Meier began his career in Europe, but found success as a conductor and teacher in the U.S. He served on faculty at Yale University, Eastman School of Music, University of Michigan and the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University. He also taught for 16 summers at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center. In addition to directing the Lansing Symphony, Meier also served as music director of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony, in Connecticut, from 1972 to 2013.

Past Lansing Symphony president Virginia Allen said Meier was a driving in force in raising the profile of the orchestra.

“When Gustav Meyer came to the LSO it was a good community orchestra. Under his leadership, it became a good professional orchestra,” she said. “He took it to the next level.”