Varujan Kojian, music director and conductor of the Santa Barbara Symphony, died March 4 at his Carpinteria home. He was 57.

He had not returned to work since undergoing surgery in October.

A native of Beirut, Kojian studied violin at the Paris National Conservatory and came to L.A. as assistant concertmaster of the Philharmonic in 1956, when he was 19.

When Zubin Mehta became Philharmonic conductor in the mid-1960s, he sent Kojian to Vienna to study conducting. Kojian returned to become assistant conductor of the Philharmonic, a post he held until 1971.

Kojian also served as associate conductor of the Seattle Symphony and was principal guest conductor of the Royal Opera in Stockholm from 1973 to 1980.

He is survived by his parents, three sisters and two brothers.

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