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Tuesday, November 9, 2004 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Music enveloped life of violinist Kristin Smedvig, 83

Seattle Times staff

Kristin Smedvig cherished her music, her family and her Icelandic roots throughout an eventful life that ended Thursday at home in Seattle. Her death, at 83, was a result of ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's Disease), diagnosed two years ago.

A 33-year member of the Seattle Symphony's violin section, Mrs. Smedvig presided over a highly musical family whose members included husband Egil, a well-known Seattle music teacher and composer, and son Rolf of New York, an internationally renowned trumpet soloist who became principal trumpet of the Boston Symphony at 20, and later founded the Empire Brass Quintet.

Mrs. Smedvig was proud of her children, including daughter Jodene of Seattle, a public-school teacher, and daughter Siri of Concord, Mass., a violinist and painter.

"We always had our music," says Egil Smedvig of his wife of 56 years.

"We met in George Frederick McKay's class at the University of Washington, and we've been together ever since."

The couple married in 1948. Together they spent a graduate year studying at Mills College in Oakland, Calif., where Egil Smedvig was a student of noted composer Darius Milhaud, while Mrs. Smedvig studied violin with Frank Houser of the San Francisco Symphony. They subsequently moved back to Seattle.

Born Jan. 1, 1921, in San Francisco to Icelandic immigrants Thorbjorn Jonsson and Brynhildur Gudmundson Jonsson, Mrs. Smedvig moved with her family during her grade-school years to Seattle, where she attended Adams Elementary School, James Monroe Junior High School and Ballard High School.

After her retirement from the Seattle Symphony in the early 1980s, she played in chamber groups until the advent of ALS forced her to give up her beloved string quartet.

"She faced her illness realistically and with courage," her husband said. "She knew what was going to happen and was prepared for it."

Mrs. Smedvig also had a lifelong interest in education; before joining the Seattle Symphony, she taught in the Seattle and Bremerton school districts, and she taught private lessons on the violin.

In addition to her musical activities, she was a member of the UW Alumnae Association Phrateres, the PNNAG (Pacific Northwest Needle Arts Guild), the Ladies Musical Club of Seattle and the Icelandic Club.

Her love of art led to enrollment in many specialized art classes, and a long-term hobby as a painter.

Her passion for genealogy led Mrs. Smedvig on the trail of her Icelandic relatives. At the time of her death, she had almost finished translating her grandfather's book on the family ancestors from Icelandic into English.

In addition to her husband and children, Mrs. Smedvig is survived by five grandchildren and two Seattle siblings, Elin McDougal and Marvin Jonsson.

A memorial concert will be held at a later date. Remembrances may be sent to the Muscular Dystrophy Assoc. Inc, 701 Dexter N. #106, Seattle, WA 98109.

Copyright © 2004 The Seattle Times Company

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