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Wallace McClain Cheatham

violinist and conductor, was born in Wheeling, West Virginia, the oldest of two sons of Everett Astor Lee Sr., an accountant, and Mamie Amanda Blue Lee, a homemaker. The children were reared in Cleveland, Ohio.

Lee was the only one in his family to go into the music profession, though his father sang in a college quartet. His career decision was completely supported by his father. Lee graduated in 1941 with a bachelor of music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he was a violin major and student of Joseph Fuchs. Though one of the school's top violinists, he was unable to get a position with an orchestra. From 1941 to 1948, however, Lee found work as a soloist, chamber musician, and first violinist of the CBS orchestra.

Lee's conducting career began in 1948 when he became leader of the Cosmopolitan Little ...