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Professor Emeritus Gustav Meier has died


Gustav Meier, the much beloved Professor Emeritus of Conducting at the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, passed away on Friday, May 26, 2016 at his home in Ann Arbor. Meier, 86, had been receiving treatment for cancer and was under hospice care at his home.  

"The School of Music, Theatre & Dance has lost a great colleague and friend," said Jerry Blackstone, current chair of the Department of Conducting. "Gustav was the epitome of collegiality and high artistic integrity. We all knew that twinkle in his eyes, and loved every opportunity to hear him lead the orchestra, watch him teach, and receive his wise comments. I was honored to call him friend." 

Born in Switzerland, Meier was a graduate of the Zurich Conservatory and also studied at the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy and the Tanglewood Music Center. Acclaimed as a conductor, he was also internationally known for his consummate pedagogical skills. He taught at SMTD from 1976-1996, training a generation of conductors who have gone on to illustrious careers, including the late Yakov Kreizberg.

Meier's arrival at SMTD ushered in a new era of symphonic excellence at Michigan, when performances by the University Symphony Orchestra became highlights on the School's concert calendar. Special annual events that he initiated became important traditions in the community and continue to this day, including the annual "Collage Concert," which showcases student talent across all disciplines, and the Halloween Concert, performed by a costumed orchestra. He also launched Mozart birthday celebrations and took the USO on tour to Evian, France, in 1981 and to Salzburg, Austria, in 1989. He received the University of Michigan's Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award in 1982.

Most recently, Meier was director of the graduate conducting program at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. He had also taught at Yale University, the Eastman School of Music, and Tanglewood Music Center, and led conducting workshops around the world including Vancouver, Canada; Cabrillo, California; New York City; Beijing, China; Prague, Czech Republic; and Sofia, Bulgaria.

Meier's students have appeared with every major orchestra and opera company in the United States and abroad. Some are currently serving as music directors of major ensembles, including Marin Alsop, the first woman to be named music director of a major American orchestra (Baltimore), who is also music director of the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra and the Cabrillo Festival. At the time of his death in 2011, Yakov Kreizberg was the chief conductor of the Netherlands Philharmonic and Netherlands Chamber Orchestras, and music director of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Monte-Carlo.

Other of Meier's students have won first prizes in prestigious conducting competitions such as the Karajan in Berlin, Stokowski and Lorin Maazel competitions in New York City, the First International Eduardo Mata Conducting Competition in Mexico City, and the Mario Gusella International Competition in Pecara, Italy.

Honored with the Ditson Prize for his commitment to American music, Meier was also the recipient of awards from Harvard and Columbia Universities, the Max Rudolf Award from the Conductors Guild of America, and honorary doctorates from Fairfield University (Connecticut), Kalamazoo College (Michigan), and Michigan State University.

Throughout his celebrated teaching career, Meier was simultaneously leading orchestras around the globe, including the Zurich Tonhalle, Sao Paolo, China National, Pittsburgh, Colorado and Alabama Symphony Orchestras; New York City, Santa Fe, Miami, San Francisco, Zurich, and Minnesota Opera Companies; and the Budapest and Vienna State Opera Orchestras. He also served as music director of the Greater Lansing Symphony for 27 seasons, and of the Greater Bridgeport Symphony in Connecticut for 41 years, retiring in 2013. In 2010, Meier's book, The Score, the Orchestra, and the Conductor, was published by Oxford University Press, written to "demystify the conductor's craft." 








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

November 2012
November 2011
February 2010
Current Faculty News
Prof. Ellen Rowe honored as Arthur F. Thurnau Professormore
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