In the beginning of the 1920s, a small group of civic leaders in Rochester, N.Y. came together with the dream of establishing a world-class music school. The book “For the Enrichment of Community Life” describes how Rochester industrialist, philanthropist and entrepreneur George Eastman founded the Eastman School of Music and how his vision for the school has thrived into the present day. The book’s author, Vincent Lenti, is an Eastman alumnus, piano faculty member and the school’s current historian. Lenti earned his bachelor’s and a master’s degree from Eastman, where he studied piano.
Lenti has been a member of the piano faculty since 1963, coordinating primary and secondary instruction as well as the supervision of doctoral teaching assistants. In 2002 he received Eastman’s Eisenhart Award, which is given for excellence in teaching.
Through his research, Lenti has developed a chronology of Eastman based on decades of publications, correspondences and personal interviews. It also includes many historical photographs. The information contained within the book makes up a history beginning with the origins of the Eastman school until the death of George Eastman in 1932.
This book, which is the first volume of a possible three volume series, was unofficially launched in October in conjunction with the centennial celebration of the renowned Sibley Music Library and the school’s alumni weekend.
Some of the prominent figures in volume one include personalities such as American composer Howard Hanson, dancer/choreographer Martha Graham, theater and film director Rouben Mamoulian, opera impresario Vladimir Rosing, author Paul Horgan, UR President Rush Rhees and Eastman’s first director, Alf Klingenberg.
The title of the book, “For the Enrichment of Community Life,” is taken directly from the faade of the Eastman Theatre, which was erected in 1922.
The words on the theater were selected by Rhees, who dedicated the theater to the purpose of the enrichment of community life. Eastman, which is represented by over 11,000 alumni in the music world, was one of the earliest undertakings to incorporate a professional music school into a major research university.
“For the Enrichment of Community Life” has been released to coincide with the 150th birthday of George Eastman. It can be purchased in both hard and soft cover editions, priced at $30 and $20 respectively, through the Eastman Bookstore. The store’s Web site is http://eastman.bkstore.com. Phone orders can be placed through the school bookstore at (585) 274-1399.
Lenti will be doing a series of book signings in the Rochester area throughout the upcoming months.
Gorode can be reached at