School opens, David Burge, Verne Reynolds and The Weekly Dozen

1921: Eastman School opens for instruction

Building Progress BulletinImage: excerpt from the Building Progress Bulletin, vol. I, no. 7, page 1

On September 19th, 1921, the Eastman School of Music opened its doors for instruction and welcomed students into the building. While no photograph of any opening day events is extant, the closest thing to a primary source for opening day is the issue of the Building Progress Bulletin that headlined the impending opening of the school for instruction.

The Building Progress Bulletin was a short-term serial publication that disseminated news and updates of the ESM and ET construction project to the local community. Altogether, seven issues were printed, each issue four pages in length; most were illustrated with architect’s drawings or cut-away building diagrams, and one issue featured a photograph on its front page. No level of detail was too minute to be shared as news; updates covered everything from architectural details, building materials, brand names on order, and details regarding costs. In what was probably the most telling instance of the insistence on informing the community, the first issue of the Bulletin even carried a lengthy message addressed to “the workmen who may not be familiar with the objects and purposes of these buildings” — and later on, to ensure that no workman had missed out on reading the message, it was reprinted in in full in issue no. 6.

In keeping with construction plans that had been laid several months previously, the opening was September 19th was restricted to the third and fourth floors, with a temporary corridor constructed on the ground floor to allow safe passage from the Gibbs Street doors to the elevators.  Meanwhile, Construction work on the lower floors, as well as on the Eastman Theater, was yet continuing, with consequences for everyone, with the sounds of work in the background during class sessions or studio lessons. We have no eyewitness accounts nor any personal recollections by any students who were enrolled at that time, but Vince Lenti’s history of the Eastman School has captured something of the physical environment into which students stepped on opening day. “The noise, confusion, dirt, and debris were a source of concern and annoyance to everyone, and someone humorously volunteered the suggestion that a musical attachment be given to the riveters working on the theater so that they could at least ‘play in unison’.” (For the most complete description, see chapter 4 of Professor Lenti’s book For the Enrichment of Community Life: George Eastman and the Founding of the Eastman School of Music (Meliora Press, 2004).) According to the Building Progress Bulletin, the plan was that completion of the rest of the building — that is, the first and second floors, the mezzanine level, and the two main corridors (now known as Lowry Hall and Cominsky Promenade) — would follow “as fast as conditions permit.”  It was openly acknowledged that work on Kilbourn Hall would require a longer period of time owing to the elaborate detail and decorative work in that space, and the basement would be completed last of all.

Eventually, when at last Kilbourn Hall was ready for use, the entire building of the Eastman School of Music was opened for viewing by the generally public with special festivities on March 3rd and 4th, 1922, including a chamber performance featuring members of the faculty.

1976: Harpsichord recital by Igor Kipnis

Igor Kipnis Marquee
Igor Kipnis Recital

Kipnis Concert ProgramOn September 16th, 1976, renowned harpsichordist-pianist Igor Kipnis made a recital appearance in Kilbourn Hall.  Mr. Kipnis, author of A First Harpsichord Book (Oxford University Press), had made more than two dozen commercial recordings up to that time. His recital program at Eastman featured works by William Tisdall, Georg Philipp Telemann, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Johann Sebastian Bach. In addition to his recital, Mr. Kipnis gave a master class. In these photographs he is seen addressing the audience in Kilbourn Hall, and while receiving audience members in the green room after his performance.

A somewhat whimsical note was struck by local critic Michael Walsh, writing for the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, who happened to liken Mr. Kipns to “a beneficent medieval friar who has somehow wandered into a tuxedo, a recital hall, and the 20th century.”

►Photos by Louis Ouzer. Master negative nos. R2224-7, -14, 21, 31; R2225-18, 27; also uploaded: I. Kipnis concert program September 16, 1976, pages 1, 2, and 3.

1985: Pianist David Burge in recital

David Burge Recital
David Burge

Faculty member David Burge, pianist (served 1975-93) appeared in recital in Kilbourn Hall on September 15th, 1985. Professor Burge (1930-2013), DMA ’56, was a renowned specialist in the contemporary piano literature; in addition, he was a noted composer and had also edited numerous works for publication. He wrote a regular column for Keyboard Magazine, and his collected columns are now available in book form under the title Timeless Relevance: The Keyboard Magazine Columns, 1975-1989 (ed. Evon Burge, Chelsea Books, 2018).

Professor Burge’s program on September 15th included the three-movement work The Blue Journey (1982) by Kamran Ince (b. 1960), DMA ’87, Turkish-American composer who was at that time enrolled in doctoral studies at the Eastman School.  The Blue Journey was one of several contemporary works that Professor Burge would perform during a visit to Ankara and Istanbul in the following month.

►Photos by Louis Ouzer on September 14th, 1985. Master negative nos. R3385-6, 8, 23.

1995: A tribute to Verne Reynolds

Verne Reynolds Marquee
Professor Verne Reynolds

Verne Portrait RevealOn September 16th and 17th, 1995, Professor Verne Reynolds (served 1959-95) was celebrated by the Eastman School community on the occasion of his retirement. On the 16th, a recital of original works by Professor Reynolds was given in Kilbourn Hall, featuring faculty members Barry Snyder, Richard Killmer, Barbara Butler, Charles Geyer, Pamela Kurau, Peter Kurau, and Joseph Werner. The evening’s printed program included program notes written by Professor Reynolds himself. Following the recital, there was a reception on Cominsky Promenade honoring Mr. Reynolds for his 36 years of faculty service. The reception was the occasion for the unveiling of Mr. Reynolds’ faculty portrait, and Mr. Reynolds received innumerable good wishes and expressions of congratulations. The following evening, Kilbourn Hall was the venue for “Eastman Brass and Friends in a Tribute to Verne Reynolds” that featured both original works and transcriptions for brass by Mr. Reynolds.

Concurrent with his Eastman School faculty appointment, Mr. Reynolds had been named principal hornist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, a post that he held until 1968. He was a founding member of the Eastman Brass Quintet. Alongside his considerable performance career and his dedication to teaching, Mr. Reynolds was a highly respected composer whose output numbered more than 60 published works, issued by such publishers as G. Schirmer, Carl Fischer, Belwin-Mills, and Southern Music. He received commissions from chamber groups, instrumental soloists, large ensembles, and schools of music; these included the Louisville Orchestra, the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the International Horn Society, Lawrence University, the Los Angeles Horn Club, Michigan State University, and trumpeter-bandleader Doc Severinsen. Significantly, the Eastman School of Music recognized Mr. Reynolds with commissions for new works in honor of the school’s 50th and 75th anniversaries. Within the international French horn community, Mr. Lawrence continues to be celebrated for his technically challenging 48 Etudes (first published in 1961 by G. Schirmer) and for his substantive textbook The Horn Handbook (Amadeus Press, 1996). Apart from his original works, his transcriptions of Renaissance music and Baroque music for brass quintet and for horn choir have been particularly well received.

After Mr. Reynolds’ passing in 2011, the Sibley Music Library received his professional papers and his vast working library of manuscripts. The finding aid for the Verne Reynolds Collection in the Ruth T. Watanabe Special Collections is accessible on this SML website link.

►Photos by Louis Ouzer. Master negative nos. R4162-1A, 18A, 19A, 29A; R4163-5, 12, 14.

Verne Reynolds Tribute
Verne Reynolds Tribute 2

The Weekly Dozen

This installment of This Week @ Eastman marks the launch of The Weekly Dozen, a glimpse back at events in the school’s concert calendar in the past century.


September 14, 1973    A Concert of Baroque Music

This 1973 performance of Baroque music featured a distinguished bill of performers. Faculty members Deanna Bush, BM ’65, MM ’66, Ph.D. ’83 (faculty; served 1975-79) and Erich Schwandt (faculty; served 1968-75) performed with alumna Kathryn Levy, BM ’67 and graduate students Julianne Baird, BM ’73, MA ’76 and later Ph.D. (Stanford) and David Benjamin Levy, BM ’69, MA 72, Ph.D. ’80. Dr. Baird and Dr. Levy, in particular, would go on to distinguish themselves with their musicological work and performance studies, which in Dr. Baird’s case has included performing and making commercial recordings.


September 13, 1974   Musica Nova

There have been numerous concerts at Eastman marking Friday the Thirteenth. In ­­­September, 1974, the Alpha Nu chapter (now disbanded) of fraternity Phi Mu Alpha sponsored Musica Nova in a concert titled “Black Sounds” that featured a performance of George Crumb’s Makrokosmos, Book I performed by David Liptak, at that time a graduate student.


September 19, 1976    The Cleveland Quartet [The Eastman Series @ Alice Tully Hall]

In the fall of 1976, the members of the Cleveland Quartet — the Eastman School’s quartet in residence, 1976-95 — kicked off the 1976-77 Eastman Series at Alice Tully Hall, a concert series founded in the 1975-76 season to promote the Eastman School and to establish a footprint in New York City.


September 15, 1980    Stride Right In!: the 2nd annual Ed Szach memorial solo jazz piano recital

[research yet on-going for this event]


September 22, 1984    An Evening Concert [Bridget Reischl, conductor]

While enrolled for an applied music degree as a voice major, Bridget Reischl, BM ’85 conducted an orchestral concert that forecast her later professional career as a conductor.


September 18, 1987    Lafayette Quartet [guest artists]

An all-woman ensemble (which was still something of a rarity in the 1980s), the members of the Lafayette Quartet had distinguished themselves during the Cleveland Quartet Competition at Eastman in 1987.  At the time of this guest artist recital at Eastman, the four members were the quartet-in-residence at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan.


September 19, 1990    SUNDA: from Village to City

This event, programmed under the auspices of the World Music Series, was one program offered as part of the Festival of Indonesia, an 18-month celebration that was underway in the USA. The World Music Series, reflecting the interest in ethnomusicology that had been formally inaugurated in the school’s curriculum, was initiated at Eastman in the 1990-91 season.


September 19, 1999    New Eastman Symphony / Brad Lubman, conductor

The New Eastman Symphony (1997-2000) was a student-managed ensemble that reflected the entrepreneurial thrust of the Eastman Initiatives of the late ‘90s. (The Eastman Initiatives, collectively, were a battery of instructional programs and student initiatives that were the precursor to today’s Institute for Music Leadership.) Students exercised leadership over all facets of the orchestra’s operations and activity, which included such community outreach as a mini-residency at Rochester’s School of the Arts. While this particular concert program might be described as nostalgic, NES programming generally drew heavily on 20th-century repertory.


September 14, 2002    Eastman Alumni Weekend Concert (Mitch Miller, special guest)

An Eastman Virtuosi concert scheduled for Alumni Weekend in 2002 was the occasion to honor a famous Eastman School alumnus, Mitch Miller, BM ’32.  Of all his various credits and professional achievements, he was perhaps best known across the nation for his Sing Along with Mitch Miller television program, in which the bouncing ball on the screen etched itself in the memories of millions of viewers.


September 13-17, 2006           A Celebration of the Lives and Music of Dmitri Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg

A four-day festival in the fall of 2006 was the occasion to celebrate the friendship and symbiotic artistic collaboration of composers Dmitri Shostakovich and Mieczyslaw Weinberg.


September 13, 2009    Guest Artist Recital featuring the music of Arthur Hartmann

Solomia Soroka, DMA ’02 and her husband, pianist Arthur Green (faculty member, University of Michigan) used a guest artist recital to present infrequently heard works by violinist and composer Arthur Hartmann, a member of the Eastman School faculty in 1921-22. Ms. Soroka’s research into Hartmann’s life and music was the focus of her DMA lecture recital.


September 18, 2015    An Exploration of Music and Light [Rochester Fringe Festival]

The introduction of a Fringe Festival into Rochester’s cultural calendar in 2015 provided opportunities for Eastman ensembles and solo performers. One such was the performance of the newly commissioned work by Dave Rivello, . . .and Light, which Mr. Rivello conducted in Kilbourn Hall.

Sep 26th – Oct 2nd: Howard Hanson at the UNESCO Fourth General Conference.

Seventy-three years ago this week, in late September, 1949, Eastman School Director Howard Hanson was in Paris serving as a U.S. delegate to the Fourth General Conference of UNESCO. 

September 27th-October 3rd: The Note Book and more

On September 27th, 1921, one hundred years ago this week, an occasional issue of The Note Book was published and was circulated to students.

September 20th-26th: Robert Freeman inauguration and more

The inauguration of Robert Freeman as the Eastman School’s fourth Director on September 20th, 1973 marked the beginning of a new era for the school.

Gateways, Howard Hanson Plaza, and more firsts

On September 10th, 1995, the third annual Gateways Music Festival concluded with a gala concert in the Eastman Theater…