ROCHESTER, NY — At the birth of America’s Roaring ’20s, a small group of visionary civic leaders in a mid-sized Western New York city came together with the dream of forming a world-class school of music. The story of how, in 1921, Rochester industrialist, entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman founded the Eastman School of Music, and how his vision subsequently flourished into the present day, is now to be published and appreciated by a world-wide audience. Thanks to the appointment of alumnus and longtime faculty member Vincent Lenti to the new post of Eastman School of Music historian, the School’s rich history will be officially documented and published by the University of Rochester Press. And, according to Lenti, the story is well worth waiting for.
Through his own research, Lenti has developed a chronology based on decades of correspondence, publications, and personal interviews culminating in Volume I of what he sees as three volumes encompassing the history of the Eastman School through the present day. This first volume — Lenti foresees all as stand-alone publications — will be a documentary history beginning with the origins of the Eastman School until the death of George Eastman in 1932. Some of Rochester’s (and the country’s) most well-known business leaders and artistic movers and shakers — including such luminaries as American composer Howard Hanson; renowned dancer/choreographer Martha Graham; theater and film director Rouben Mamoulian; opera impressario Vladimir Rosing; Harper Prize-winning author Paul Horgan; University of Rochester President Rush Rhees; and Eastman’s first director, Alf Klingenberg — figure prominently in the first volume, expected to be published in time for the 100th anniversary of Eastman’s renowned Sibley Library in 2004.
“The University of Rochester Press is delighted to be able to publish Vincent Lenti’s upcoming work on the Eastman School of Music,” says U of R Press Editor Tim Madigan. “It will be
part of our new Meliora imprint, which specializes in books specifically on aspects of the University of Rochester’s history. Vince has been a pleasure to work with, and his book will be an important contribution not only to the University but also to the history of music in general.” Volume II will document the School through the retirement of Director Howard Hanson in 1964, and the third volume will take the story up through the present time.
Lenti’s interest in the musical history of Rochester — and his own position as Director of Eastman’s Community Education Division for 26 years — led to his historical study in the late 1970s of that division, formerly known as the Eastman Preparatory Department. This sparked an interest in the overall history of the Eastman School, and in 1996, Lenti’s account of the historical origins of the Eastman School of Music was published by Rochester History, a quarterly publication by the City Historian of the Rochester Public Library.
“I can’t think of a better person to chronicle Eastman’s history than Vince Lenti,” says Eastman Director and Dean James Undercofler. “Through his more than 45 years of involvement in all aspects of the School, from undergraduate student through faculty member in the piano department, Vince has developed a unique perspective. We are fortunate to have someone in this position whose personal connections and recollections span more than half of the School’s history.”
Vincent Lenti earned a bachelor of music degree and a master of arts degree from the Eastman School, where he was a student of the noted Italian pianist and pedagogue, Orazio Frugoni. He has been a member of the piano faculty since 1963, also having coordinated primary and secondary piano instruction and supervision of doctoral teaching assistants. In 2002 he was the recipient of Eastman’s Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching.
For more information on the Eastman School of Music, visit its website at: www.rochester.edu/Eastman.