Werner Janssen, the first American-born conductor to lead the New York Philharmonic and later the music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, died Wednesday at the Stony Brook (N.Y.) University Hospital. He was 91.
He had a distinguished career as a film composer and champion of contemporary music on the West Coast.
Born in New York, he attended Dartmouth College and the New England Conservatory of Music. He studied conducting in Europe with Felix Weingartner and Hermann Scherchen and composition with Ottorino Respighi. In the 1920s, he also played piano in New York cabarets and contributed numbers for the Ziegfeld Follies and other revues.
His international career blossomed when he conducted an all-Sibelius concert in Finland in 1934, winning glowing praise from the composer. He made many appearances as guest conductor in Europe and the United States, and in 1934 was invited to lead the New York Philharmonic.