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Music at MIT Oral History Project

Overview | Special funding | List of interviews

Project Overview

The Lewis Music Library's Music at MIT Oral History Project was established in 1999 to document the history of music at MIT. For over 100 years, music has been a vibrant part of MIT's culture. This history covers a wide variety of genres, including orchestral, chamber, and choral musical groups, as well as jazz, musical theater, popular and world music. Establishment of a formal music program in 1947 met the growing needs for professional leadership in many of the performing groups. Shortly thereafter, an academic course curriculum within the Division of Humanities was created. Over the years, the music faculty and alumni have included many distinguished performers, composers and scholars.

Through in-depth recorded audio interviews with current and retired MIT music faculty, staff, former students, and visiting artists, the Music at MIT Oral History Project is preserving this valuable legacy for the historical record. These individuals provide a wealth of information about MIT. Furthermore, their professional lives and activities are often historically important to the world at large.

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Special Funding Obtained

In the fall of 2006, Lionel Kinney ('53) provided funding to support the project for the next five years. There are many facets to the project. For each subject, significant background research is conducted. Transcripts are now being made for each interview, and metadata standards are being established so that the interviews can eventually be added to a digital archive. The goal of these interviews is to obtain information that has not been documented in other sources. All interviews are conducted by Forrest Larson, Library Assistant at the Lewis Music Library, who has received training in oral history methodology and practice at Simmons College and from the Society of American Archivists. He is also an active composer and violist.

Recorded interviews, field notes, photographs and other directly related material are located in the Lewis Music Library. CD recordings of many of the interviews are available; click on a name below to view the Barton library catalog record. Beginning in September 2010, interviews are in video format. For more information, contact Forrest Larson (twiggy@mit.edu or 617-253-0982).

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The following subjects have been interviewed:

Dante Anzolini. Associate Professor of Music at MIT 1998-2006, conductor of the MIT Symphony and Chamber Orchestras. Active conductor of orchestras in the U.S., Latin America and Europe.
Four interviews 3/28/05, 11/2/05, 3/21/06, 11/19/07

Jeanne Bamberger. Professor of Music at MIT 1971-2005. Pianist (student of Arthur Schnabel), music theorist (student of Ernst Krenek, Roger Sessions), important figure in the field of music perception and how children learn music.
Two interviews 5/27/05, 6/7/05

John Bavicchi. MIT student Business and Engineering 1940-1942, Professor Emeritus, Berklee College of Music. Composer, conductor, has written orchestral, chamber, piano and vocal music; some of his works for band were written for the MIT Concert Band (John Corley, conductor).
Two interviews 6/30/06, 9/1/06

beranekLeo Beranek. MIT Associate Professor of Communications Engineering 1947-1958, founding partner of Bolt, Beranek and Newman, Inc., acoustical design consultant. Worked on the original acoustical design of MIT's Kresge Auditorium in 1955. Later consulted on concert halls and opera houses throughout the world. Founding member, Council for the Arts at MIT. He was a dance band drummer in the late 1930s and an orchestral timpanist in the 1940s.
Two interviews 9/30/2008, 10/9/2008

blotner Linda Solow Blotner. MIT Music Librarian 1972-1984. Worked to expand the Music Library collection to meet the needs of MIT's growing music program, especially in chamber music, scholarly editions of scores and books for research. She was editor of The Boston Composers Project (1983), an extensive bibliography of contemporary music by Boston area composers. Nationally she is active in the Music Library Association, and has served as editor of their journal Notes. From 1987-2007 she was head of The Allen Memorial Library, The Hartt School of Music, University of Hartford.
One interview 5/17/2010

David Bondelevitch (MIT B.S. Film/Video Production 1985). Played trumpet in MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble, film music producer.
One interview 5/3/2003

Claude BrennerClaude Brenner (MIT B.S. 1947 Aeronautical Engineering, M.S. 1948). President, Commonwealth Energy Group Ltd. Active in MIT Glee Club, MIT Logarhythms.
Two interviews 11/21/2008, 5/1/2009

 

Adrian Childs (MIT B.S. Mathematics and Music 1994). Played in MIT Concert Band and other groups. Commissioned to write a piece for John Corley’s final concert May 1999. Composer, Assistant Professor of Music, University of Georgia.
One interview 9/13/2000

Charles Yardley Chittick (MIT B.S. 1922, Course XV, Business and Engineering). Played in the MIT Mandolin Club. Patent attorney.
One interview 1/11/2007

John Corley. Founding director and conductor of the MIT Concert Band from 1949 to 1999. Leading figure in performing works originally written for concert band. He commissioned over 50 new pieces.
Three interviews 8/19/1999, 9/3/1999, 12/10/1999

Cherry Emerson (MIT M.S. Chemical Engineering 1941). Philanthropist for music at MIT. Distinguished career in chemical engineering. Amateur pianist.
Two interviews 11/28/2000, 11/30/2000

Stephen Erdely. MIT Professor of music 1973-1991. Ethnomusicologist specialist in eastern European folk music and Béla Bartók. Concert violinist. Cleveland Orchestra member 1951-1966.
Two interviews 3/24/1999, 8/4/1999

Sara Emerson Farwell. Daughter of the distinguished composer Arthur Farwell, 1872-1952 (MIT class of 1893, B.S. in Electrical Engineering). Retired actress and acting teacher.
One interview 6/14/07

David Foxe (MIT B.S. Architecture and Music 2003, M.S. Architecture 2006). Composer, pianist. Has written orchestral, vocal and chamber music. He was a student assistant in the Lewis Music Library 1999-2003.
One interview 8/8/2003

William Grossman (MIT B.S. Electrical Engineering 1971). Piano, French horn, composer, arranger. Played in many MIT musical ensembles: Festival Jazz Ensemble, Symphony Orchestra, musical theater productions and many others. Rehearsal pianist for musical theater productions in New York.
One interview 5/3/2003

Arnold Judson (MIT B.S. Chemical Engineering 1947, MIT M.S. Organizational Behavior 1948). Career in business management and consulting. Pianist, composer. Played Beethoven Piano Concerto no.1 with the MIT Symphony Orchestra in spring 1947. Studied composition with Walter Piston. Has written piano, vocal and orchestral music; continues to play piano and give occasional recitals.
Two interviews 12/21/2007, 4/25/2008

Samuel Jay Keyser. MIT Professor Emeritus, Department of Linguistics and Philosophy; poet and jazz trombonist. Active trombonist: plays with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, The New Liberty Jazz Band, The Dave Whitney Orchestra, has performed at MIT commencement celebrations, and previously was a member of the MIT Concert Jazz Band.
Three video interviews 9/22/2010, 12/2/2010, 12/17/2010

Lionel KinneyLionel Kinney (MIT B.S. Civil Engineering 1953). Engineer with Caterpiller, Inc. Played trumpet in the MIT Symphony Orchestra, MIT Concert Band, as well as in the little-known ROTC Band. Held various leadership and administrative positions in the orchestra and band, and was president of the "Combined Musical Clubs." Worked closely with Klaus Liepmann, first professor of music at MIT, and John Corley, founding director and conductor of the MIT Concert Band.
Two interviews 6/5/2008, 6/6/2008

Karl Kornacker (MIT B.S. Physics 1958, PhD Biology 1962). Cellist, active in MIT Symphony (appeared as soloist), played semi-professionally after MIT. Professor at Ohio State Univerity, Division of Sensory Biophysics.
One interview 7/11/2002

Everett Longstreth. Director of MIT Concert Jazz Band 1968-1995. Band leader, trumpet player, arranger; performed with Woody Herman Band, Herb Pomeroy Orchestra, Frank Sinatra and appeared on Tonight Show and Ed Sullivan Show. Taught at Boston Conservatory.
One video interview 3/30/2011: see ttv.mit.edu/collections/mitlibraries:2172

Rajesh Mehta (MIT B.S. Electrical Engineering and Humanities 1986). Played in MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble. Professional avante-garde trumpet player and composer. He was MIT artist-in-residence April 2001.
One interview 3/27/2001

Richard Orr (MIT B.S. Electrical Engineering 1962, M.S. 1963 E.E., PhD 1973 E.E.). Trombonist. Original member of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble. Distinguished career as an electrical engineer. Semi-professional musician.
One interview 5/3/2003

Herb Pomeroy. Director of MIT Jazz Bands 1963-1985. Founder of the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble. Noted jazz trumpeter and band leader, Professor of Music at Berklee College of Music (retired).
Three interviews 12/14/1999, 4/5/2000, 4/26/2000

Brian Robison. Assistant Professor of music composition at MIT from 2002-2006. Composer of orchestral, chamber, and vocal music.
Two interviews 7/2/07, 8/17/07

Jamshied Sharifi (MIT B.S. Humanities 1983). Composer, keyboard player, producer, arranger. Directed the MIT Festival Jazz Ensemble from 1985-1992.
One video interview 3/27/2012

Robert Spritch (MIT B.S. Humanities 1960). MIT Music Library student employee. Literature and film scholar. Professor of English Emeritus, Bentley College. Group leader, Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement.
One interview 5/16/2002

Barry Vercoe. Professor Emeritus of Music and Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT. Established MIT Experimental Music Studio, 1973; founding member of MIT Media Lab. Pioneered work in computer music including Csound program and technology enabling computers to listen and respond to performers in real-time. Composer of orchestral, choral and chamber music as well as innovative works combining computer-generated sound and live performers.
One video interview 8/19/2011: see ttv.mit.edu/collections/mitlibraries:2172

Claudia Von Canon. Lecturer in Music at MIT 1974-1991. Pianist, harpsichordist, singer.
Two interviews 10/3/2001, 10/9/2001

Duscha WeisskopfDuscha Weisskopf. First music librarian at MIT, 1949-1952.
One interview 5/29/2009

 

 

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