Walter Burle Marx, 88, pianist, composer and conductor who founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of Rio de Janeiro and headed the Opera Rio de Janeiro, died Dec. 28 in Akron, Ohio.

Born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, he studied piano in Rio de Janeiro and Berlin before making concert appearances throughout Europe and South America. After founding Rio’s Philharmonic in 1931, he served as its music director for three years and performed guest conductor stints.

While music director of the Brazilian Pavilion at New York’s 1939 World’s Fair, he was invited to conduct the New York Philharmonic.

Switching from conducting to composing, he produced four symphonies and numerous shorter works.

He began supervising Rio’s opera in 1947 and five years later moved to Philadelphia, where he taught piano and composition at the Settlement Music School until his retirement in 1977. At the time of his death, he was working on a cantata based on the Constitution.

Survived by two daughters, four grandchildren and three brothers.

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