Nationalist Chinese Premier

Chang Chun, 101, a former premier of Nationalist China and presidential adviser who helped influence Taiwan's foreign policy for decades, died of heart and kidney ailments Dec. 14 in Taipei.

Mr. Chang, who served as premier in 1947 and 1948, was the last surviving elder of the governing Nationalist Party. He joined Sun Yat-sen's revolution that overthrew the monarchy on the Chinese mainland in 1911. He also was a classmate of the late President Chiang Kai-shek at the Tokyo Military Academy and later served as Chiang's top aide.

After the outbreak of civil war with the Communists, the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan. There, Chang served as Chiang's chief of staff and adviser until the president's death in 1975, and he played an influential role in mapping the government's foreign policies. He also served as an adviser to Chiang's son, former president Chiang Ching-kuo.


Songwriter and Performer

Francisco Gabilondo Soler, 83, the children's songwriter known as "Cri-Cri," whose comical and educational compositions featuring lighthearted lyrics and rumba and tango rhythms are sung throughout the Spanish-speaking world, died Dec. 14 at his home in Mexico City after a heart attack.

Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari said Mr. Gabilondo Soler "brought joy to the lives of children with his music and songs."

Mr. Gabilondo Soler wrote and performed hundreds of songs. His voice rode the Mexican air waves for 27 years, making his nickname -- from a child's word for cricket -- a household word throughout the country. He wrote and performed from the 1930s to the 1970s.


Light Opera Founder

Edwin Lester, 95, the founder and longtime director of Los Angeles's Civic Light Opera, died of cardiac arrest Dec. 13 at his home in Beverly Hills, Calif.

Between 1938 and 1977, when he retired, the opera offered more than 160 productions, 90 of them produced by him. The shows included Mary Martin in "Peter Pan," Paul Robeson in "Show Boat," Ethel Merman in "Gypsy" and Katharine Hepburn in "Coco." Five of his shows ("Song of Norway," "Kismet," "Magdalena," "Gigi" and "Peter Pan") went from Los Angeles to Broadway at a time when the rivers of musical drama normally flowed in the opposite direction.



Max Epstein, 39, a conductor with New York's Metropolitan Opera, died Dec. 14 in New York City. He had AIDS.

Mr. Epstein, who joined the Met in 1984, last conducted in March during a national broadcast commemorating the 50th anniversary of opera broadcasts sponsored by Texaco. He was associated with several opera houses in Europe before going to New York.