Born in Seattle on 23 September 1953 into a musical Scandinavian family, American trumpeter, teacher and conductor Rolf Smedvig grew up in the same city. His mother was a violinist in the Seattle Symphony Orchestra and his father a composer and music teacher. He studied with Maurice André and at Boston University.
Known for his lyrical sound, at thirteen he performed as a soloist with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, at nineteen was one of the youngest musicians hired by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and at twenty-five became the Boston Symphony Orchestra's Principal Trumpet.
He was co-founder of the five member Empire Brass Quartet (later Empire Brass) which toured internationally and recorded extensively for labels including Angel, EMI and Telarc.
He taught at the Tanglewood Music Center and played as a soloist with orchestras including the NHK Symphony Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Cambridge Chamber Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra in Washington DC.
He also performed as a conductor, as music director of the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra and guest conductor of the Zurich Tonhalle Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, the Northwest Chamber Orchestra and the Simon Bolivar Orchestra in Caracas.
Smedvig died suddenly, at home in West Stockbridge, Massachusetts on 27 April 2015, aged sixty-two.