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SMTD Mourns Professor Emeritus Erling Bengtsson


One of the world's great cellists, Erling Blöndal Bengtsson, professor emeritus of cello for U-M's School of Music, Theatre & Dance, died at age 81 on June 6, 2013. A native of Denmark, Bengtsson began teaching at the University of Michigan in 1990 following a distinguished teaching and performing career in Europe. He remained in Ann Arbor following his retirement in 2006. "His shining personality, sublime musicianship, and kindness were qualities much treasured by all who knew him," said SMTD Dean Emeritus Paul Boylan.

Born in 1932 in Copenhagen, Erling Bengtsson began cello studies at age three with his father, made his first concert appearance at age four, and debuted as a soloist at 10. At age 16 he became a student of Gregor Piatigorsky at the Curtis Institute of Music, joining the faculty immediately upon graduation. He later returned to his native Denmark as professor at the Royal Danish Conservatory of Music, serving for 37 years. Concurrently, he was teacher of cello at the Swedish Radio Music School of Advanced Instrumental Studies in Stockholm and at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne and gave countless master classes throughout Scandinavia, England, and the United States.

Bengtsson enjoyed a rich career as a recitalist and soloist with the world's great ensembles including the Royal Philharmonic, the BBC, the English Chamber Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon) and the Czech Philharmonic, as well as the orchestras of Baden-Baden, Brussels, Cologne, Copenhagen, The Hague, Hamburg, Helsinki, Leningrad, Oslo, and Stockholm. Beginning with 78 rpm and continuing into compact discs, he made more than 50 recordings, including highly praised performances of concertos by Boccherini, Haydn, Schumann, Dvořák, Tchaikovsky, Lalo, Saint-Saëns, the complete Bach cello suites, and the Beethoven and Brahms sonatas. In 1998 his recording of the Kodaly solo sonata was chosen by the "Guinness Classical 1000" as among the top thousand recordings of all time.

Among many honors bestowed upon him was the title of "Chevalier du Violoncelle" by the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in recognition of his universal contributions to the art and teaching of cello performance, and the Manchester (England) International Cello Festival's "Award of Distinction," the greatest international honor to be bestowed on a cellist. He was also knighted by the governments of Denmark and Iceland. A larger-than-life sized bronze statue of Bengtsson stands in front of Iceland's University Concert Hall in Reykjavik, a  testimonial to the esteem in which the legendary cellist is held by all of Scandinavia.

Professor Bengtsson is survived by his wife of 55 years, Merete, along with two sons, their wives, and a grandson. 



past news

November 2015
October 2014

Anisha Nandi, from The Michigan Daily, sat down with professor Michael Gould to talk about his "Remember Me" show. The video can be seen on the Michigan Daily website.   10/01/2014

July 2014

Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Dance, Peter Sparling is a recipient of a Distinguished University Professorship. Effective September 1, Sparling will be a Rudolf Arnheim Distinguished University Professor. This appointment is one of the highest honors the University can bestow upon a faculty member.   07/18/2014

Professor Patricia Hall will be presenting her paper, "Alban Berg's 'Guilt' by Association to the Music, Censorship and Meaning in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union conference at the Colburn School in Los Angeles this August.   07/12/2014

April 2014

Prof. Ed Sarath Receives U-M's "Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award" 04/21/2014

Professor Kuster Wins Prestigious OPERA America Grant 04/04/2014

Professor Mukherji to Speak in London this July 04/04/2014

Áine Heneghan, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, will present her research on Schoenberg's Formenlehre at the following conferences, all in 2014: Music Theory Midwest (Appleton, WI), the Eighteenth Biennial International Conference on Nineteenth-Century Music (Toronto, Canada), EuroMAC (Leuven, Belgium), and the annual meeting of the Society for Music Theory (Milwaukee).   04/01/2014

March 2014

U-M UpstART Festival Begins 03/31/2014

A Multimedia Installation on Climate Change 03/28/2014

Wayne Petty, Associate Professor of Music Theory, will read his paper, "Some Multimovement Designs in C. P. E. Bach's Late Keyboard Sonatas" at the Seventh EuroMac conference, which will gather scholars from all music theory societies in Europe in Leuven, Belgium, from 17 to 21 September, 2014.  An adaptation of the paper will be presented to the Society for Music Theory in Milwaukee in the Fall of 2014.   03/26/2014

Walter Everett, Professor of Music Theory, announces the publication of Los Beatles como músicos: De Revolver de la Antología (Buenos Aires: Eterna Cadencia, 2013), the Spanish translation of his The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology (Oxford University Press, 1999).   03/21/2014

Celebration of Professor George Shirley's 80th Birthday 03/19/2014

Prof. Korsyn presents keynote in The Hague, serves in scholarly appointments 03/14/2014

December 2013

In January 2014 Professor Wayne Petty will read the paper, "Wilhelm Fischer and the Fortspinnung-type Sonata Exposition," at the Seventh International Conference on Music Theory in Tallin and Pärnu, Estonia.  The conference theme is "Musical Form: Mapping the Territories."   12/17/2013

AmeriGrove II, edited by Professor Charles Garrett, is published 12/13/2013

November 2013

Gosman Presents Beethoven Research 11/16/2013

Department of Music Theory Announces Visiting Speakers of 2014 11/16/2013

Everett Launches Beatles Observances 11/16/2013

Interarts professor Holly Hughes presents The Dog and Pony Show (Bring Your Own Pony) in a webcast performance at the Chicago Humanities Festival on Mon., Nov. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Her newest performance work, the piece offers a poetic and comic meditation on midlife crises in the key of canine.   11/01/2013

September 2013

SMTD Welcomes New Faculty 09/27/2013

Ramon Satyendra, associate professor of music theory, has published his essay, "Morphisms of Generalized Interval Systems and PR-Groups" (co-authored with Thomas Fiore and Thomas Noll), in Journal of Mathematics and Music 7/1.   09/20/2013

Alan Gosman Co-authors New Beethoven Book 09/06/2013

July 2013

Professor Ashley Lucas and three Theatre & Drama students are engaged in an intensive exchange program with UniRio in Rio de Janiero, Brazil this summer, where they are blogging about their experiences in UniRio's prison arts program and more.   07/12/2013

June 2013

SMTD Mourns Professor Emeritus Erling Bengtsson 06/10/2013

Holly Hughes, professor of interarts performance in the Department of Theatre & Drama, was profiled in Hyperallergic, an online magazine about art and culture, which included a Q&A with Hughes about her role as one of the "NEA Four."   06/06/2013

Music theory professor Walter Everett's role as an expert on the music of the Beatles was the subject of an article in      06/06/2013

Hall presents in Copenhagen 06/03/2013

May 2013

Robert Hurst, associate professor of jazz and contemporary improvisation, was featured in a Q&A article in on the occasion of the release of his new CD, BOB: a palindrome.   05/01/2013

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February 2010
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