October 25th-31st: Marian McPartland at Eastman

October 25, 2021

1972: Marian McPartland teaching at Eastman

Forty-nine years ago this week, on October 29th, 1972,renowned jazz pianist Marian McPartland (1918-2013) was photographed while working with Eastman students in the classroom. By this time Ms. McPartland was easily one of the jazz world’s best-loved personalities and of its most sought-after performers. Her first visit to Eastman had been in March, 1971 while she was fulfilling an extended professional engagement at a Rochester venue. On that occasion Director Walter Hendl had invited her to Eastman for a visit that included a performance for Eastman students in Room 120 (today the Rayburn Wright Room) and also a gala dinner party hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Hendl. That visit had marked the beginning of what would be her longtime association with Eastman; once introduced to Rochester, Ms. McPartland would appear extensively in Rochester venues over the years, as well as maintaining from 1971 onwards a connection with Eastman that took the forms of performing, teaching, and patronage.

 

► Image: article “Marian McPartland back as a professor” printed in the Rochester Times-Union, September 30, 1972.  Preserved at the Sibley Music Library in Rochester Scrapbook October/November 1972, page 8.

Marian McPartland back as a professor” printed in the Rochester Times-Union, September 30, 1972. Preserved at the Sibley Music Library in Rochester Scrapbook October/November 1972, page 8.

It was while Ms. McPartland was fulfilling a six-week engagement at a Rochester venue in the fall of 1972 that Professor Rayburn Wright invited her to teach piano improvisation at Eastman. The Louis Ouzer photographs displayed here capture the unified sense of purpose in the room while Ms. McPartland is at the keyboard, surrounded by the students in rapt attention. In one of the press articles, local writer Cliff Smith offered his favorable observations on her classroom activity at Eastman. In the other article, printed a few weeks earlier, Theodore Price described being in “a corner of heaven” while listening to Ms. McPartland and her colleagues. The venue where she was booked that fall, the Monticello Room at the Rowntowner Motor Inn in Henrietta, was a vibrant center for live music in Rochester in earlier decades. The Monticello Room is pictured (at lower right) on the postcard image displayed here, which was accessed here 

►Photos by Louis Ouzer: R1593-26, R1593-28, R1593-29, R1593-32, R1594-13A, R1594-15A, R1594-16A, R1594-18A

article “Professor McP” printed in the Rochester Times-Union, November 1, 1972. Preserved at the Sibley Music Library in Rochester Scrapbook October/November 1972, page 142.
article “Professor McP” printed in the Rochester Times-Union, November 1, 1972. Preserved at the Sibley Music Library in Rochester Scrapbook October/November 1972, page 142.
Scrapbook pages with articles about Marian McPartland’s activities in Rochester in 1972.
Scrapbook pages with articles about Marian McPartland’s activities in Rochester in 1972.
color postcard of the Rowntowner Motor Inn.
Souvenir postcard from the Rowntowner Motor Inn, Henrietta New York, where the Monticello Room was a vibrant venue for live music for many years.

Marian McPartland writing out ideas on the chalkboard for studentsWhen visiting Rochester in May, 2002, Ms. McPartland wrote, “Rochester is like my second home, and all because of the wonderful Eastman School; I have so many great memories of various performances, and of course, my friend Alec Wilder who introduced me to Eastman and the many fabulous people in it.” By those words she acknowledged Rochester’s Alec Wilder (1907-1980), with whom she enjoyed a long professional collaboration and personal friendship. Mr. Wilder—a native of Rochester and a student at Eastman in the 1920s (did not graduate)— admired Ms. McPartland’s artistry and wrote numerous solos for her; those compositions are considered some of his best work for keyboard. In particular, he wrote his “Jazz Waltz for a Friend” as a tribute to Ms. McPartland in 1974; it was subsequently published by Ambrose Music. The Sibley Music Library holds a manuscript copy of the song that Ms. McPartland gave to Sibley out of her personal collection. Among her innumerable performances of the “Jazz Waltz” was a special rendition that she gave at Eastman on February 13th, 1991 during a celebration of Alec Wilder that marked the dedication of the newly named Alec Wilder Reading Room in the Sibley Music Library.  (The finding aid for the The Alec Wilder Archive at the Sibley Music Library is accessible here.)

Later in her life, Marian McPartland would be the recipient of a Grammy Award (2004), the Order of the British Empire (2010), and an honorary Doctor of Music degree from the University of Rochester (2007). After her death in 2013, the Sibley Music Library received her extensive collection of personal papers.  The finding aid for the Marian McPartland Collection is accessible here

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The Weekly Dozen

October 30, 1935 

October 30, 1951 Third Annual Festival of Marches 

October 27, 1953  José Echániz, pianist 

1953 October 27 Echaniz Piano Spanish Music

October 28, 1958  Collegium Musicum of University of Illinois 

October 26, 1965  Polish Millennium Concert

October 27, 1966   Sally Benson played donated Guadagnini violin 

October 26, 1970 First Graduation Concert with Orchestra

October 29, 1970  Hermann Pry 

October 25, 1974  Chorale  

October 7, 1976  Harry Sparnaay 

October 25, 1978  Extended Vocal Techniques Ensemble

October 25, 1978  Van Daalan Organ Inauguration 

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