Renowned composer endows Eastman professorship

Courtesy of Helene Snihur

Eastman School of Music graduate Dominick J. Argento, who graduated with a Ph.D. from the school in 1958, has created a trust with plans to endow a $1.5 million professorship at Eastman.

The provision for the professorship is referred to as a deferred gift and will be made available through Argento’s estate. The gift will be used to endow a position in recognition of Argento’s accomplishments — the Dominick J. Argento Professorship.

According to Eastman Executive Director of Development for Major Gifts and Special Projects Suzanne Stover, Argento has maintained close ties with Eastman over the years, reflective, she believes, of his deep appreciation for the school.

“In addition to providing me with an extraordinary musical education, Eastman changed my life in much more significant ways,” Argento said in a statement. “More than just imparting to me particular compositional techniques, what I acquired from the school was a sense of confidence, instilled by Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers and Alan Hovhaness. I was made a teaching fellow, and even that was character-building work. Eastman changed my life.”

Argento is highly honored in the music world, having received the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 1975 composition “From the Diary of Virginia Woolf” and a 2004 Grammy Award for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for his “Casa Guidi.” He is most well known as a lyric opera composer, but has also composed major song cycles and orchestral and choral works.

“We are in awe of [Argento’s] artistic achievements and grateful for his exceptional generosity and commitment,” Dean of the Eastman School of Music Douglas Lowry said in a statement. “His gift will support and enhance the work of our outstanding faculty in presenting new musical ideas, as well as adventuresome ventures in music teaching and performance.”

Among Argento’s other awards are the Eastman School of Music Alumni Achievement Award (1979), election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1979), the George Peabody Medal (1993), Fulbright (1951) and Guggenheim (1958, 1964) fellowships, the OPERA America Award for Achievement, the Chorus America’s Founder’s Award and multiple honorary doctorates.

The gift, Stover says, “is significant and extremely generous, and we hope it will inspire others to be generous to the University and the Eastman School, too.”

Remus is a member of the class of 2016.



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