UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
Interviewee: David Z. Kushner
Interviewer: Robert B. Nelson
April 28, 1987
N: My name is Robert Nelson. I am interviewing Dr. David Kushner for the Oral
History Project at the University of Florida. Today is April 28, 1987. We are sitting
in Dr. Kushner's office on the third floor of the University Memorial Auditorium here
on the University of Florida campus. Good morning, Dr. Kushner, and thank you
very much for allowing some time to devote to this project.
K: Good morning.
N: First of all, just for the tape, could you please state your full name?
K: My name is David Z. Kushner.
N: You do not want to tell us what your middle name is?
K: Sure, I will tell you. It is Zakeri.
N: I would like to get a some background information about you. I noticed you were
born in Ellenville, New York, but I have not found a birth date. Can you elaborate on
K: I was born December 22, 1935, in Ellenville, New York, a small village in the
Catskill Mountain area of New York state.
N: What was life like in Ellenville?
K: Well, it is a quiet, peaceful little village. At that time it was a resort town during
the summer season only, but recently it has become a winter resort, as well. Its
population has been and still is approximately 6,000. Since it is only eighty-five
miles from New York City it has easy access to the cultural and sporting events of
N: I myself grew up in a little town in Illinois, so I have got some kind of an idea
what Ellenville is like. Grayslake had about 4,000 people. What were some of your
early musical experiences?
K: I began taking piano lessons at age eight, and I enjoyed playing in local recitals,
and then, eventually, recitals outside the confines of the Ellenville area during my
teen years. I continued that practice until the time I went away to Boston University
in 1953. During my growing up period, I also had occasion to attend many recitals
and concerts in the Ellenville area, where there is an active Community Concerts
Association. Ellenville was also the sight of the Empire State Music Festival for
N: Could you talk a little bit more about the recital series or the general music series
that took place in the Ellenville area? It sounds like it is not a typical little community
as far as music goes.
K: This is true. The Empire State Music Festival, which took place during the
summer, featured the Symphony of the Air, which is the orchestra that succeeded
the NBC Symphony upon the retirement of the Arturo Toscanini [conductor, NBC
Symphony, 1937-1954]. It had a rather large scale summer series with guest
conductors, among whom were [Leopold] Stokowski and [Heitor] Villa-Lobos, and
numerous well-known soloists, including Earl Wild and people of that level, so the
community got a pretty good taste of art music at its best.
N: That is substantial music culture for a little town of 6,000.
K: Yes, but then it is a very unusual community.
N: How is it that your parents happened to settle in Ellenville?
K: My father was born in a town even smaller than Ellenville just a few miles down
the road. The town was called Napanoch; I believe the name is of Indian derivation.
My mother was born in Brooklyn, New York, and eventually they met and married.
N: How much did they encourage your early musical studies? Was it a musical
K: Modestly so. They themselves did not play, although aunts, uncles, and other
relatives did, but they were very supportive and encouraging. They went out and
bought a piano when I was about eight so I could begin lessons. When I started
giving recitals in my early teens they were particularly supportive and traveled with
me to many of those engagements, and I thank them very much for that.
N: What was your father's name?
K: My father's name was Nathan.
N: What was your mother's name?
N: Do you have any brothers and sisters?
K: I have one younger brother, Charles, who is a resident of Palm Beach Gardens,
N: Is he musical as well?
K: Yes. He played the clarinet and saxophone during his high school years. He
does not do much with it now; he simply enjoys it. He is in business.
N: We need patrons, too. So you stayed in Ellenville through high school. What
was it that prompted you to go to college, and how did you decide where to go?
K: We had a rather progressive music program at my high school--this was at
Ellenville Central School, then called Ellenville High School. As part of that music
program we took two years of music theory as well as a music literature course.
After I took the Carl Seashore examination, my music teacher at that time, Mary
Baxter Dixon, encouraged both my parents and me to consider a career in music.
At that point I had considered it, but my first choice was to go into the field of
psychiatry. After some persuasion I decided music was really the better avenue, so
when I was a junior in high school I decided firmly that I would go into music.
N: You are speaking of the Carl Seashore Examination of Musical Abilities. Why
did you decide to go to Boston University?
K: It did not have to be Boston University. What I did was select a number of music
schools which I thought were good and which were also recommended by Mrs.
Dixon. Boston University was among them; others included the Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music and the Juilliard School in New York. I suppose the decisive
factor was that I really wanted to go somewhat far away from Ellenville, but not too
far. New York City was a little too close, so I decided on Boston.
N: What was the situation there in Boston?
K: It was quite a revelatory affair for me. It was more competitive than I had
expected. There were students from all over the country, not just the Boston area.
It turned out to be a very good experience for me, because it acquainted me with
what was going on elsewhere in the country in musical thought. Although it was
competitive, I think it stood me in good stead.
N: What was the general course of study that you undertook there?
K: I was in the bachelor of music program, with a major in piano performance. It
was rather rigorous course of study, not only in the performance area itself, but also
in the areas of musicology and music theory. Since my major area was
performance, I went through the usual regimen of doing a student recital and the
like. In addition to that, we were required to take two full years of humanities, a
requirement which was extremely helpful to me in my later studies.
N: What kinds of topics did you study in the humanities courses? That is an
unusual requirement nowadays for a B.M. program.
K: Well, we had a major professor named Willis Wager, and his course covered
literature and philosophy from ancient Mesopotamia to the twentieth century. It was
a two-year course that met five days a week.
N: Was this through the music department?
K: This was offered in the College of Music in the School of Fine and Applied Arts.
N: So you got a very wide and broad perspective and background in humanities.
K: Yes, and it helped a great deal.
N: Let us back up just a little. When did you graduate from high school?
K: I graduated from high school in 1953, and from Boston University in 1957.
N: So the year right out of high school you went on to Boston and graduated four
years later. We are talking about a time frame during the Korean conflict. Was
there ever any threat to you personally where you felt that you might get called into
K: I really did not feel any at that time, no. I believe at that time if you where fully
engaged in college work there was little danger of being called up to serve.
N: I know there were some colleges that required their students to go through the
ROTC [Reserve Officers Training Corps] program.
K: That was not required at Boston University. It is a private university, which may
account for part of that.
N: So after Boston University you then decided to pursue a master's, and you went
on to the University of Cincinnati?
K: Yes. Again, I had written to a number of schools where I thought I could achieve
some degree of success, and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music was highly
recommended. It was one of my choices when I went away to undergraduate
school, but two features sold me on it for graduate study. First, Mrs. Dixon was a
graduate of that school, and I had great faith in her. Second, they they offered
me--a more practical reason--a very handsome fellowship, which I promptly
accepted. It enabled me to teach music theory and keyboard harmony.
N: Interesting. I was wondering how you got through Boston University financially.
K: I worked during the summers in my father's paint store, and with that income,
plus my father's considerable help, I managed to get through. Even at that time it
had a rather high tuition. But Cincinnati paid for just about everything except living
N: How did you take care of those?
K: The same way--working summers in the paint store and family help.
N: Your family was quite helpful, then, in getting you through college.
K: Yes, they were very encouraging and supportive.
N: Was your brother away at college at this time?
K: He was studying business at the University of Cincinnati for part of the time, but
he did not complete his degree. Instead, he went into business in Ellenville.
Eventually he and my parents moved to south Florida, and he entered business with
my father in a paint store.
N: When did they move down here?
K: It was approximately 1970 or 1971.
N: The reason I asked is because for a time your parents were helping two of their
children through school.
N: That must have been financially draining on them to some extent. While at the
University of Cincinnati was your emphasis still in piano performance?
K: No. At that time the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music had recently merged with
the Cincinnati College of Music to become the College Conservatory of Music. It
was only a year or so after I graduated from there that it affiliated itself with the
University of Cincinnati, but at that time it was an independent conservatory on a
separate campus. At Cincinnati I was majoring in historical musicology. I had by
that time decided to become a college professor and I needed to broaden my areas
of interest beyond mere piano performance, and the area in which I was most
interested was musicology.
N: Was this the result of Mrs. Dixon's music literature classes?
K: No, it was simply my own personal development as a musician. It seemed to me
that piano performance was a little bit too narrow, and it brought me into contact
only with piano literature. I had by this time gotten seriously interested in both opera
and chamber literature. So, in beginning to explore those other areas, I naturally
moved into the realm of music history and literature and, hence, musicology.
N: When you finished at Cincinnati, then, did you actually shift your emphasis to
K: Oh, yes. I wrote a master's thesis on a musicological subject at Cincinnati.
N: What was the topic of that thesis?
K: The topic was the piano music of Ernest Bloch.
N: So you were still incorporating your background in piano, but adding a
musicological emphasis. I should say Ernest Bloch has been very good for you and
K: Oh, yes, he has been very, very good for me.
N: When did you graduate from Cincinnati?
K: That was in 1958.
N: Ernest Bloch was still alive then. Did he die the year after?
K: That is right.
N: While you were working on your thesis, then, did you have an opportunity to get
in touch with him and talk with him personally?
K: No, I did not, to my regret.
N: I am sure you wish you had. That is why we have oral history programs. So you
finished your master's degree in 1958 at Cincinnati. Then what did you do?
K: I took half a year off, and in the following January 1959, 1 attended the University
of Michigan. After about a year and a half there I had completed the course work
toward the Ph.D. in historical musicology and passed the examinations. I then got
my first academic job, which delayed the completion of my doctoral dissertation until
1966. During those intervening years while I was doing research on the dissertation
I taught at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus, Mississippi--from
1964 to 1966--and then at Radford College (now Radford University) in Radford,
Virginia--from 1966 through 1969.
N: So you completed your course work in the middle of 1960.
N: And you finished your dissertation in 1966. Again, the topic was Ernest Bloch?
K: Yes, it was an analysis of Bloch's symphonic music.
N: Analysis in what respect? We usually think of analysis of music as a dissertation
topic in music theory.
K: Well, there is a great deal of cross fertilization between theory and musicology. I
think it is difficult to do one without the other, at least to some extent. It was a
descriptive analysis which required particularly formal and stylistic treatment of the
subject. Then it put these works into historical context: when were they written, who
influenced them, what influence they may have had, and what was the subject
matter of some of these symphonic groups. For Mr. Bloch, many times the subject
matter was outside the music itself. His works have descriptive titles which have
something to do with his religious orientation and his philosophical interests, so it
was a rather broad subject.
N: It still could be considered music theory, then, but there is more to it than just
N: After your experiences at the University of Michigan, you spent a few years at
Mississippi University for Women, and then at Radford, and then you came to the
University of Florida. How was it that you heard about the job here, and what made
you think to apply?
K: I think I heard about it through friends who somehow knew that the position had
come open. I also seem to recall receiving notice of that from a job placement
agency. In any event, I was aware that the position was open and decided to apply.
I began to believe that Radford was somewhat provincial for my tastes. The town
population was only 12,000, and they had some extremely conservative views with
which I was not totally supportive, so I thought it would be a good thing for me to
move to a larger university. Therefore, I applied to the University of Florida and was
promptly called for an interview.
N: What was the job description for which you applied?
K: It was primarily for a person to head the music history and literature
program--officially titled "Coordinator of Music History and Literature," I believe--and
to develop a graduate studies program, which at that time did not exist in music.
N: What was the application procedure like?
K: I guess it was rather a standard one, including a letter stating my interest in
applying. Then I received a call from then department chairman Reid Poole to come
for an interview, which I did. I was housed at the University Inn during the four-day
interview period. I recall with some amusement that the interview took place in the
Rathskeller. I thought that was a little bit unusual, and I guess it introduced me to
certain aspects of academia with which I was not accustomed.
N: You knew you were not in provincial Radford anymore.
K: That is true.
N: This is the summer of 1969.
K: Yes, it was in the late summer, in fact. There was some disagreement over the
rank and salary. The ad apparently called for an assistant professor's rank and
salary, but I had been at that time a full professor at Radford, and I was not going to
for a position that was two ranks lower than the one I held. So that required some
additional negotiation, and ultimately did result in acceptance.
N: What did you know about the music department here at Florida when you
K: I did not know a great deal. I knew what I read in the catalog that I had, but not
really much else.
N: You did not really have much of an idea, outside of the catalog--which would give
you information on what degrees were offered, general enrollment, faculty
size--about the quality of the program.
K: No, I had absolutely no knowledge of it.
N: Did that make you feel a little tenuous about coming into a new situation?
K: Yes, I think so, but I had made the decision in advance that I was going to leave
Radford--it was simply a question of where. It would not, of course, be a place that I
thought was less satisfactory to me than Radford. The University of Florida did seem
to offer potentially a great deal of opportunity, and for that reason I had no qualms
about coming here.
N: So you decided to pick up and move here. What were your first impressions
when you came to the campus here to begin your work?
K: I guess all things are relative. I thought that the town of Radford was rather
small, since it had only 12,000 people. Of course, the college was very, very
small--maybe four to five thousand students. At that time, it was a woman's college
only. So there were two changes for me: Gainesville at the time may have had
about 36,000, which was still small, but by comparison to Radford, it was large.
Also, the University was co-ed and considerably larger. So I was pleasantly
surprised at both of those features, and I enjoyed my first years here very much. It
was quiet without being too quiet.
N: What about the music department here? What were your first impressions of the
K: After the first few weeks, I guess they were somewhat mixed. During the time of
my interview the University Orchestra performed in the University [Memorial]
Auditorium, with a guest soloist of the stature of Ruth Slenczynska [pianist], and I
was very impressed. I still recall what she played: the Schumann A minor Piano
Concerto, and, I believe, Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 24 in C minor. I was not
impressed by the acoustics in the auditorium--this was before the renovation--and I
was not too thrilled, either, with the mosquitoes and other insects floating about
during the performance. But, as I say, I was impressed with the caliber of soloists
who came here and performed. I was also impressed with the number of faculty
members, particularly in the performance areas of the faculty. They were quite
active and played very well. I was not too impressed with the academic side of the
music department, but I guess that was part of the reason I was asked to come
down here, and that has improved, I think.
N: You would like to think so, that you have made a difference.
K: I am sure that I am not the only one who has made a difference. As new people
come in with new ideas, there is a tendency to change the status quo, and I think
that is what was needed. It was a laid-back atmosphere when I came.
N: During this time Reid Poole is chairman and Stephen C. O'Connell is president
of the University. Stephen O'Connell had a real gung-ho "build and develop and let
us make this place great" attitude. Did you notice how that reflected on the music
department and how the music department fit into that scheme?
K: I think it had some effect on it. In the period of about 1970 and 1971 the music
department moved into its new music building, after I was here only a year. We had
Aaron Copland here for the occasion and, in fact, conferred upon him the honorary
degree Doctor of Fine Arts. That all augured well for the future. The negative side
was that the music department was not growing in the area of new degree
programs, which I felt it needed badly if it were to a emerge as a major force in the
state and, certainly, beyond. It did not seem to get a great deal of financial support
in terms of academic programs.
N: The emphasis was more on facilities than on classes?
K: Certainly at that time, yes.
N: Speaking of the new music building, I want to get back to the old building,
particularly your emphasis there, which would have been on classrooms. What
were the classrooms in that old Building R like?
K: Building R was really like the pre-fab World War II structure. It was the women's
gymnasium. It was very difficult to teach in those classrooms. They were relatively
large but certainly not soundproof, and you could hear everybody playing in the
studios around you. It clearly did not make for a salubrious learning experience.
N: There was one rehearsal hall?
K: As I recall, yes, one central rehearsal hall which all the ensembles had to share.
N: The classrooms were just situated somehow around it?
K: Yes, in various parts of the building. The plus side was that there was a certain
camaraderie among the students and faculty, undoubtedly due to the circumstances
under which they all worked. But as far as a true learning experience is concerned,
it was not a good situation.
N: You had to have a good sense of humor.
K: That is true.
N: You commented that an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts was conferred on Aaron
Copland. Was there such a degree here at that time?
K: No, there was not.
N: How did that come about, then? To confer an honorary degree that did not exist,
how was that possible?
K: Honoraries can be conferred in that way. They do not have to be degrees that
the university itself grants.
N: Oh, fine. Again, talking about the classrooms, seeing how you were teaching
music history classes, you undoubtedly used a great deal of sound recordings.
What was the condition of the record library and also that of the equipment that you
had to use?
K: In both cases, poor. The music library was housed in Building R. It was a very
small and not very satisfactory collection. The same is true for the recordings.
Many times faculty members, myself included, brought their own scores, books, and
recordings to the classroom to supplement the materials at hand. It was a difficult
N: Speaking of the library, could you talk a little more about the condition of the
library when you arrived and how it has grown?
K: It was really little more than a hole in the wall in Building R, and it has grown
dramatically and made major strides ever since it landed in the new Music Building,
particularly since the music collection was removed from the Architecture and Fine
Arts Library to the Music Building. I have nothing but the highest praise for the
music library and its staff.
N: Part of the library was housed in Building R, and part of it was over in the
College of Fine Arts?
K: Yes, but even after we moved into the new Music Building the major music
collection was housed in the College of Architecture of Fine Arts Library for a time,
which is on the second floor of the fine arts building.
N: What was in the music library? Was it separated from the others in the collection
K: Yes, that was separate for the convenience of faculty and students in the
department. There were also music books in Library East and in parts of Library
West, so it was a scattered affair.
N: That must have made it difficult to find what you were looking for. If you wanted
this kind of resource, say musical scores, they would be over here; if you wanted
this kind of book, they are over here; if you want this kind of thing, they are over
here. Was there any rhyme or reason to the system?
K: Not from my personal perspective. I am sure there was from the point of view of
the library and its staff, but I was not privy to what those rhymes or reasons were. In
my opinion it was helter-skelter and not sound academic practice.
N: But that all changed when you got into the new building, which would have been
N: When you first arrived, what were your teaching responsibilities?
K: I was teaching the undergraduate level music history survey course and various
courses on separate periods of musical history, such as romantic instrumental
literature, romantic vocal literature, and contemporary music literature.
N: What about your teaching load?
K: It was pretty much what it has been, that being the equivalent of four academic
courses. At that time I did not have as many administrative duties, so I had more
classroom activities to attend to.
N: One of the courses that you mentioned was romantic vocal literature. Did you
feel that your training and your studies at Michigan and Boston really prepared you
for that, or how much did you have to go out on your own and do your own digging?
K: I think the preparation was very strong, particularly at the University of Michigan,
because they required you to be knowledgeable in all genres and areas of musical
history from the middle ages on in order to pass the written and oral examinations. I
think it was a good background, but by no means the only one. I continued to do
research and to check out things with which I was not familiar, and I still do. It is one
of the more exciting aspects of research.
N: It never ends.
K: The panacea is never reached.
N: What was your salary when you first arrived here? It was obviously better than
what you had earned previously.
K: I thought it was quite good. As a matter fact, as I recall, my salary that first year
was about $15,000 for a nine month contract, which, back in the 1969-1970 period,
was certainly acceptable. Over the years it has not kept pace with salaries in other
departments, both on and off this campus, but it was a good start.
N: When the department moved over to the new building, what were your
impressions? Were you involved in any of the architectural planning, orwas that all
completed before you arrived?
K: Most of it had been done. I did see the floor plans, and all the faculty gave some
input, but everything was pretty much decided. Most of us, as I recall, were really
quite enthusiastic about it. It had the usual pluses and minuses. The primary minus
for me was that the studios did not have windows, which seemed an inhibiting
feature that I did not care for too much. It also tended to separate the faculty
somewhat. It made them more isolated, and the camaraderie today is not quite
what it had been in old Building R, but I think that is one of the sacrifices one has to
N: Other than that, you were pleased with the new building?
K: The other major lack, I felt then and still do feel, is the recital hall in the building
itself. I think that has been a negative factor for both students and faculty.
N: Speaking of a recital hall, I understand that there are some plans to build one,
but some people are getting those plans confused with separate plans for a single
performing arts center for both Santa Fe Community College and University of
Florida. Do you know if those are two separate projects?
K: So far as I know, they are. I have personally not heard of plans for a recital hall
in the Music Building, other than just vague general talk. The performing arts center
does seem to be a serious idea that probably will see fruition in the near future,
because it does have strong political support.
N: Do you see the performing arts center as a compromise for the recital hall? Is
that going to be our recital hall?
K: No, I do not think that was the intention at all. I do not think it had anything to do
with the recital hall for the music department. I think it is a totally separate entity. It
is more of a public hall for large events, like opera, symphony orchestras, and the
N: Now that you have been here awhile, I would like to get into some of your
auxiliary activities. You have been very active with WUFT, the local fine arts radio
and television station. Could you talk about some of your experiences with WUFT,
particularly the relationship between the music department and the station?
K: I did a program for them called "Music From Florida" for approximately five
years. It was sort of a classical disc jockey program, which was ninety minutes in
length. I selected recordings of music from various periods, gave a little background
material about the selections, and played them on the air. It was a weekly program,
and it got some very fine responses from the people out there who listened. I
thought it was a good thing to introduce the general populace to art music, which I
had discovered was not taken seriously in the environs of Gainesville at that time.
The situation has improved dramatically, I think, since then.
Various members of the music faculty have had a good relationship with the radio
station over the years. Often their recitals and concerts have been taped and are
aired on that station. They are aired not only locally, but elsewhere in the state,
which is, of course, good public relations for the University and the department. We
are appreciative to the station for that.
N: When was your radio program aired?
K: Between 1970 and 1975 or so, for about five years. It ran once a week on
Sunday at 2:00. The theme song was the second movement of [Ludwig van]
Beethoven's "Emperor" [piano] concerto.
N: Everybody needs a signature tune! You have also served on the community
advisory board for WUFT.
K: Yes, I am presently serving on that board. This is a group which meets on a
regular basis with the leadership of the station to discuss policies, problems, and
N: What are some of the things that the committee has come up with that you can
see have been particularly striking for Gainesville?
K: Most recently it has advanced the idea that there should be more programming
for children and children's interests, and the station has agreed and will soon be
implementing such programs. Also, we have discussed the kinds of programs that
should be on the air, which taped programs we should purchase from NPR [National
Public Radio], and the like. We have discussed the format of The Listener, which is
the station's monthly magazine, fund raising, and, in general, all areas in which a
community action group can involve itself.
N: What is the make-up of this advisory board?
K: It is comprised of people from the arts community of Gainesville, with both town
and gown personalities represented. All have various interests in music and the
arts, and I guess they would be considered leaders in the arts community of the
N: Presently who are some of the members on this board?
K: The current president is Elaine Brown. Some of the other members include
Charlie Sabin, a local artist; Doris Bardon, who is very familiar to most people in the
arts in general; Arlene Greer, who is the theater critic with the Gainesville Sun; and
Rena Panush, a local soprano.
N: As you said, some of them are from the community, and most of them have been
involved in the arts most of their lives. Tell me about your involvement with the Arts
in Education Committee here in Alachua County.
K: That is an agency of the Arts Councils of Alachua County. Its mission is to
explore ways in which arts education can be improved and developed in the Alachua
County school system. It makes recommendations of various kinds affecting arts
teaching in Alachua County schools.
N: When was it established?
K: It is relatively new; it is approximately two years old now.
N: Were you one of the founding members?
K: No, I was simply invited to become a member by the Alachua County Arts
N: What are some of the things this group has done that has had an impact on
music education in our schools?
K: It is not only concerned about music education--it is meant to examine arts
education in general. The major activity this year was the Ramses Exhibit in
Jacksonville, for which they got together with the various schools and organized
outings of Gainesville school children to Jacksonville to see the exhibit. There was
also discussion on the exhibit in the schools by the appropriate teachers in the
various schools, so it was a good exposure for most of the children. In addition,
they are involved with the Artists in the Schools program. The committee includes
on its board Janice Bice, who is the art supervisor for Alachua County, and
Christiana Shaw, who is the music supervisor for Alachua County.
N: What kind of input have you made in that organization?
K: I have been simply recommending that arts in general, and music in particular,
be given more focus in the curriculum. I do not feel that the arts are taught enough
on a regular basis to make a serious impact on the students.
N: How much is regular enough?
K: What I mean by that is more than two times a week for half an hour or so. N:
You would like to see a regular class that meets every day.
K: Yes, I would like to see it as part of the regular curriculum of every student, and
not just as a special dispensation.
N: I do understand that there was a law passed by the legislature about three years
ago that required one-half credit of a performing arts for all high school students
before they could graduate. What is this county doing in regard to that?
K: I am not sure, other than I presume that they are enforcing the requirement. I
personally do not think that it is going to really teach students very much about the
arts. Among other things, it has some very serious drawbacks. For instance, if a
student does not have a musical background to start with, what can he contribute to
a major performing ensemble? It poses a problem forthe choral, band, or orchestra
director, because he naturally wants the best musicians in the ensemble. I think it
has that kind of problem. A more serious one is that it really does not teach about
art. In music, for example, there is no teaching about music except as a tangential
element to the performance itself. There is no systematic teaching of music theory
or music history, to my knowledge, in Alachua County.
N: There are no classes whatsoever that you know of?
K: I know that at Gainesville High School there are theory classes now being taught,
but I am speaking of the elementary and middle school levels particularly, where
such teaching needs to be nurtured.
N: I understand that the reasoning behind that rule was that one cannot learn about
music by sitting in a class listening to it--you actually have to do it.
K: I do not totally agree with that notion. Otherwise, there would be no music levels
at all. If we had to rely only on people who played instruments or who sang with a
degree of expertise, we would not have any large audiences. I thinkyou can teach
about music the way you teach about history or literature. You do not have to be a
poet to appreciate poetry. The advisory committee has explored all these things,
but I do not feel that it has gone into the subject in great depth as yet. I hope that it
N: Generally speaking, does the committee follow a format or an agenda set up by
K: Pretty much so, and the committee has not been called into session during this
entire spring semester. I cannot account for that. We had been meeting regularly,
once a month.
N: Tell me about the members of this committee.
K: Again, it contains a number of people from various constituencies in the
community at large, all of whom have an interest in the arts. The one with whom I
am most familiar is Sue Jester, who is chairperson of the creative and performing
arts department at Santa Fe Community College. Their institution is quite interested
in and supportive of the arts in the community.
N: Something else you have done locally here for the community is your
involvement in recitals in the schools.
K: Yes. Several years ago I began this series as a way of inculcating the joys of art
music in young people. By young people, I am speaking primarily of elementary
students, and then going on to the middle and high school levels. This series has
had considerable support from music teachers in Alachua County and outside the
county, as well. I have enjoyed it greatly.
N: Is this a program which you instituted?
K: Yes, this is a series which I founded, so to speak. It got into full gear around
1976, and it has been an ongoing series ever since. It has taken me all over this
county and elsewhere in the state, and even out of the state. Some years ago it
was covered by United Press International, and it has been one of the great
extra-musical activities of my career at the University.
N: Could you talk through a typical program at a school? Let us say you are at an
K: Normally, I will select a program and send it to the music teacher of the school
so that the teacher can prepare the students in advance. Usually they do; they
discuss the music and the composers, so by the time I arrive the students are quite
well informed as to what they are going to be listening to. A typical program
includes relatively short pieces, because I am cognizant of the sitting power of
young people in the elementary stages of their development. I often use pieces
from the "Anna Magdalena" book by Johann Sebastian Bach, or the Enfantines by
Ernest Bloch, or some of the shorter works by [Frederic] Chopin, such as the
preludes and waltzes. I also use some of the smaller-scale movements or
independent pieces by Beethoven, such as "FOr Elise" or minuet movements from
some of the early [piano] sonatas. Sometimes I play folk music of various countries,
particularly in settings by serious composers, such as the Rumanian Folk Dances of
Bela Bart6k. I try to cover music of all periods so that students become acquainted
with a variety of styles and forms.
N: Do you contact the school and say that you would like to do a program for them?
K: It works both ways. Sometimes I do that, but more often than not the music
teachers call me when they find that it fits in with their schedule, and we try to find a
mutually satisfactory date.
N: Do you send them a letter at the beginning of the year about your program?
K: Yes, they get a flyer containing information about the series and the kinds of
programs available. Then there is the school volunteer program of Alachua County,
which frequently contacts me to do little recitals in schools.
N: What is the School Volunteer Program?
K: This is a program whereby individuals in the community are called upon as
volunteers to bring their various talents to the schools. People from medicine to
music are called upon, come in, and do their thing for the kids. I think it is an
N: Do you do similar kinds of things for high schools, except perhaps with different
K: Yes, the literature becomes a little longer and somewhat more complicated as
the age level increases, but it is the same idea.
N: Generally speaking, these programs are about forty-five minutes or so?
K: Yes. They are about thirty minutes at the elementary level.
N: That sounds really interesting. Still another thing you have done here on
campus is your musicology lecture series.
K: Yes, I am very proud of that series. We feature the local musicology faculty,
visiting lecturers and scholars, and more importantly, I feel, our own graduate
students. It is a good avenue for all these various categories of people to share
their research with an interested audience. I founded this series sometime around
1970, shortly after I arrived here.
N: Was there a prototype or a model of this?
K: I did not model it after any prototypes, although I was certainly aware of this kind
of thing from the universities I attended as a student. But the new wrinkle, I felt, was
the inclusion of graduate students on the programs, because I had not seen this
previously, and I thought it was a serious omission.
N: Whom have you invited to this series and what are some of the topics that have
K: They cover a broad range of personalities and subjects. For example, we had
Charles Michael Carroll, a music critic for the St. Petersburg Independent and
former editor of the College Music [Society] Symposium. He is an expert on French
baroque opera, and he has given us lectures on that particular topic. We have had
Edward Kilenyi, the distinguished piano professor--now emeritus--of Florida State
University, whose particular area of research is the nineteenth century and,
specifically, the influence of literature on major composers. He gave us an
outstanding presentation on George Sand and Chopin. Then we have had people
with interests in early music. Most recently we had Richard Taruskin, who recently
was appointed to [the University of California at] Berkeley, and he spoke on
performance practices. We have literally run a full gamut from the medieval period
through the twentieth century.
N: You said that graduate students have been included. What are some of the
topics they have covered?
K: They generally deal with areas of research on which they are presently working,
either as part of the course requirements or thesis and dissertation requirements.
The topics have varied considerably depending on their particular interests. It is a
good opportunity for them to get their feet wet, so to speak, in presenting material
before a reasonably cognizant audience and answering questions at the end of the
presentation. Our goal is to prepare them for presenting papers at professional
conferences, which will, of course, become a requisite once they enter the job
N: What kind of budget constraints are there on this program? There is roughly one
lecture a month.
K: Yes, but we only have about three visiting lecturers, and the constraints are
great. We have a minimal budget; for many years we had zero budgeting for the
Musicology Lecture Series. Presently, it is not more than $300 a year, so it is not
exactly a well-supported program.
N: Some of these people coming from the outside are having to put up some of
there own money, then.
K: Either that, or they are fortunate in having there own universities contribute to the
cost. Many of them are gracious in lending their talents totally at there own
expense. They are pleased to be on the Musicology Lecture Series, and, of course,
we are grateful to them for that.
N: From your background of working with various professional music organizations,
what is the perception of this program around the southeast, and perhaps even in
other states? Is it well-known and respected by others of your peers?
K: Yes, I feel very good about it in the main, because members of the musicology
faculty have themselves given papers or appeared in other capacities--as officers or
performers--at various scholarly meetings. Perhaps more importantly, many of our
graduate students have been selected to present papers at professional meetings
throughout the region. This, of course, enhances the reputations of both the
University and the department. I find that the program is well-respected, and I think
it will gain in prominence if and when a Ph.D. program in historical musicology is
made available to the students here. Presently, the doctoral degree program is
housed in the College of Education, through the Curriculum and Instruction Division;
the program is called College Teaching of Music.
N: It has been for quite some time. Was it that way when you arrived here?
K: When I got here there was not a doctoral program to speak of at all. This is a
N: So this is something that you were involved with in some respect.
K: Yes. I was on the committee that sat down with officials of the College of
Education in the early 1970s to workout a mutually acceptable doctoral level
N: Why was it that the music department decided to sit down with the College of
Education? I am sure the music department first looked at the possibility of running
their own program.
K: There was not a great deal of interest in the College of Fine Arts or, for that
matter, within the music department itself to have our own degrees.
N: That seems somewhat surprising.
K: Well, it may be, but, then, remember that at that time there was barely a master's
program in place. The first master's degree we offered was the Master of Education
in Music Education, which was offered through the College of Education.
Consequently, we had contacts with that college, and we did not have a master's
degree program in music in the College of Fine Arts--that was one reason. The
other was more political: at that time the idea was that Florida State University's
School of Music was the dominant school of music in Florida, and it was not
considered appropriate for this University to compete with FSU at the graduate level.
N: There would have been considerable competition.
K: Right. Also, we frankly did not have the graduate faculty to seriously support a
graduate-level program of quality at that time. Most of the graduate faculty at that
time did not hold terminal degrees. Things have changed considerably since then.
N: So we have been limping along with the Ph.D. in music through the College of
Education, but although it has had its problems for the music department the
consensus has been that it is better than no Ph.D. at all.
K: Yes, that is typically so.
N: How are plans proceeding for the new Ph.D. program?
K: At this very moment I am quite optimistic about it. The proposal is now being
studied seriously at the Board of Regents level, and it seems to have gained the
support of Provost [Robert] Bryan. It certainly has the support of the department of
music and its administration, as well as the administration of the College of Fine
Arts. The proposal calls for a Ph.D. with emphases in historical musicology,
theory/composition, or music education.
N: A prospective student can pick any one of them. If this comes about, then the
department of music is going to have to strengthen its graduate music faculty.
K: Yes, part of the proposal calls for the addition of two major professors in the
areas of historical musicology and music theory, and Provost Bryan has given his
support to that proposal.
N: Two in each area?
K: One in each--one in musicology and one in theory.
N: You are optimistic, then, that this can be implemented within the next two years?
K: Yes, that is a likelihood.
N: Tell me about your activities with the University of Florida Senate, which you
worked with from 1983-85. What kind of work was involved in that?
K: That usually involved University-wide issues, and representatives of various
departments met on a regular basis to explore University-wide issues, which ranged
from parking problems to new academic programs.
N: There was nothing affecting the music department that you could input?
K: No, there was really nothing there.
N: In general, then, what were some of the big problems which the University was
trying to solve?
K: They are probably the same ones that it wrestles with now. I recall that parking
was a big issue. Other issues had to do with the recruitment of minority students
and faculty. Those things have not changed at all.
N: Has the music department taken any specific steps or been told that we need to
make sure that we at least interview minority candidates, whether they be black or
K: I think the department of music has always recognized that it needs to interview
whomever is qualified for a faculty position, regardless of whether they are blacks or
women. In short, we have always had minority and/or women applicants and, in
some cases, finalists. As you see from the roster, we have a fairly good percentage
of black and woman music faculty members, as well as students.
N: Would you say that the music department is in better shape than most
departments regarding mandates--federal or state--for minority percentages.
K: Yes, I would say it is. I do not really see any problems along those lines.
N: Tell me about your work at the Florence [Italy] Study Center for the Florida State
K: That is a program administered by Florida State University's International
Programs Center, but it is open to faculty in the State University System [SUS] of
Florida, and to students in the SUS (including out-of-state), as well. The Florence
Study Center is located in downtown Firenze, and it is quite a well appointed affair.
It has a five-story building and a full library with a librarian on duty. It primarily offers
undergraduate studies in the humanities as well as the fine and liberal arts. While I
was there I taught music literature courses. There were many field trips and
operatic concerts of various kinds. It is a very enrichening experience for both
students and faculty, and one of the best experiences I have had since being here at
N: Was this pretty well established by the time you came to Florida?
K: Yes, it was. At that time it had an outstanding director, Fred Licht, an art
historian who has since become director of the art museum at Princeton University.
Along with the Florence Study Center, the Florida State University System also
administers a London Study Center, and it, too, offers instruction in the arts, as well
N: How long were you there [in Italy]?
K: Six months.
N: What year was that?
K: It was 1975.
N: What was the student body like?
K: Generally, it was a good level, I thought. The students came from both within
and outside of the state of Florida. They seemed to have good backgrounds.
N: Were there any local Italian students?
K: No, there were none particularly. I recall that I gave a literature recital on
colonial American music while I was there that was open to the public, and a number
of local students attended, but the classes in general did not include Italian students.
They were American students, primarily, studying in Europe. They were getting
credit for the courses, which then reverted back to their home universities. It was a
way to expose them to Italy more than it was to expose the Italians to Americans.
N: So it was a study abroad program that would probably cost them a couple
thousand dollars. It may be a tremendous expense, but it was a valuable
K: Yes, that is about right.
N: Is that something where you contacted them?
K: Yes, I learned about the program from reading their materials, which are
available at various universities. I sent an application and was accepted. While I
was there I was able to give lectures in various Italian cities, and I also gave a
lecture tour in England and Scotland.
N: Lecturing on what topics?
K: Soviet aesthetics, American opera--a wide range, depending on where I was.
N: You took the lectures with you?
K: Oh, yes, I never travel without my lectures. You never know when you might
need to pull one out.
N: Several things have happened to the University since you have been here that
have had an impact on the music department and on the University in general.
When you got here the quarter system was intact. Was that a system familiar to
K: Yes. Radford College was on the quarter system, so it was not a new thing for
me when I came.
N: In the early 1970s there was a requirement instituted for students to attend at
least one semester of summer school. What kind of an impact did that have on the
K: I do not think it was a terribly significant rule. The numbers in the music
department, comparatively speaking, were not all that voluminous, so I did not see
any tremendous impact.
N: Was there already a pretty good summer school program here?
K: It was relatively good, I would say.
N: How much of the summer school was associated with the Gatorland Music
K: Quite a lot of it was. There were many high school students around during the
Gatorland weeks. Also, we had initiated the new master's program in music
education, which brought us a good number of new graduate students during the
N: Sometime around 1971 there were some racial demonstrations on campus.
Were there music students involved in that, or was the department pretty much
sheltered from that?
K: I think music students did pretty much their own thing. Music students on this
campus have been by and large rather conservative and not terribly involved in
national or international activities, certainly not to the extent that I have observed in
other disciplines. They were somewhat removed and sheltered, so to speak.
N: In 1974, Robert Marston became president [of the University of Florida]; that was
the year after Don McGlothlin became chairman [of the music department] and the
year the College of Architecture divided. There were some very significant changes
going on in the University and within the college here. Again, what was the impact
of these things on you and on the music program?
K: The separation of the Colleges of Architecture and Fine Arts was important for
the department of music because the arts now had their own viable identity for the
first time. When the colleges were together it was clear that architecture had a
much greater impact university-wide than fine arts. By having its own identity, the
College of Fine Arts was now in a position to bolster the programs in art and music,
and later theater, and I think it has forged forward rather rapidly since.
N: It follows, then, that there were opportunities to start doing some things, and then
the recession hit. How much of an impact did that have?
K: I am sure it impacted the music department pretty much the same way it did
other disciplines. I do not think it was a disastrous impact, but it did slow things
down a bit.
N: We are talking, for instance, about budget moneys for professors to go to
K: Exactly. Travel moneys have always been a difficulty, but then they still are,
both in good times and bad. I do not feel our travel moneys ever have been nearly
N: How about budget moneys for library materials--recordings, musical scores,
K: Those have been quite good, in fact. There have been no serious impediments
because of budgetary restrictions on the library. Of course, it could always be
better, but it is not exactly in bad shape.
N: In 1976 the University faculty decided to unionize. What was the general sense
K: Mixed, as you might expect. A small percentage of the music faculty joined the
union, and, in fact, still belong. Many others did not and do not now belong. Usually
their belonging to the union was based on certain displeasures, whether they be in
the realm of academics or economics. Those who perceived themselves doing
reasonably well in academia saw no great reason to join the union.
N: Have you been a part of the union at all?
K: No, I have not. Although I do support some of the union's aims and goals, I do
not believe that professionals in the academic world should belong to unions. This
is just a personal, philosophical view.
N: Is there any striking reason for that, such as something from your past or from
what you have seen or heard?
K: Well, it is simply that my familiarity with unions in general conjures up images of
major strikes, unrest, and street fighting. These events, I think, demean the
profession. This is not to say, however, that all is well in academia at all times. In
some cases, if one is aggrieved enough he has no other recourse but to go through
a union. I understand why they formed and why they attract certain support, but I
continue to hope, perhaps idealistically, that resolutions to conflicts can occur
without the kinds of activities associated with unions.
N: You expect reasonable people to be able to sit down and hammer out
K: I do expect that, but I do acknowledge that this is not always possible.
N: I mentioned earlier the quarter system, which was no problem either for you or
the department of music. Later, in 1981, the semester system was instituted. What
kinds of changes did that necessitate for the music department and for you?
K: For me, personally, it was no big problem. At the Mississippi University for
Women (which was then called the Mississippi College for Women) the semester
system was in effect, so I had taught under it previously. It was a minor adjustment
for me to revert back to it.
N: Do you prefer the semester system?
K: I do prefer the semester system because I can incorporate much more material
and serious content into the courses I teach. I think the quarter system is too
constraining on time. You have to make decisions as to what to leave out, not what
to put in. I strongly support the semester system.
N: Let us look at some of the chairmen that have come and gone during your
tenure. Reid Poole was chairman when you came here. He was followed by Don
McGlothlin, Budd Udell, and Joel Stegall. In what ways has each one of them made
their imprint on this department and on you?
K: That is a very difficult question to answer. Each has made an imprint on the
areas which they chose to emphasize during their tenures as chairman.
N: What did Reid Poole emphasize?
K: When I arrived Reid Poole was trying to build up the undergraduate program,
and he was just beginning to focus on graduate studies. He had apparently
appointed faculty throughout the years of his chairmanship who, for whatever
reason, did not hold terminal degrees. This had, perhaps, a negative impact on the
development of the graduate program.
N: By terminal degree, are you talking of Ph.D. or doctorate?
K: The doctorate, because that would encompass the Doctor of Musical Arts degree
in performance areas. Those degrees are necessary for graduate studies at a high
level, yet many faculty members worked their way up through the ranks and became
full professors without the terminal degrees. I did not feel that was a strong feature
of the department. That has, of course, changed.
N: But many of them are still here, ready to retire.
K: I do not know how many there are, but, yes, they are still here.
N: Then Don McGlothlin comes along in 1973.
K: Don was a music educator and a clarinetist. I found him to be a efficient
chairman. I had virtually no disagreements at all with Don McGlothlin. I thought he
was quite effective. He was knowledgeable in all areas of music, and he dealt fairly,
I felt, with faculty and students.
N: But he only stayed for three years.
K: Yes. He went on to, I guess for him, a better position as chairman of the
department at the University of Missouri in Columbia.
N: I understand that department offered him about three times the salary he was
being paid here.
K: That might well be. That was, of course, an incentive.
N: So he was here for three years, and then Budd Udell came in 1977.
K: Budd was a secretary for the MTNA [Music Teachers National Association] in
Cincinnati, and he had been, I believe, the assistant to the dean of the College
Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He is a composer and
conductor, so he brought with him those particular perspectives and emphases. As
you know, he ran into some difficulties with the faculty, which resulted in a petition
that led to his resignation as chair.
N: What sort of difficulties?
K: They were different, I imagine, for various individuals. My perception of it is that
these difficulties centered around personalities. He did not seem to be able to get
along with people whose personalities did not blend or meld with his own. There
was a certain lack of objectivity in appraising and evaluating faculty members.
N: So there were some personality problems that somehow got in the way of
K: That is my understanding, yes.
N: So Budd Udell stepped down, and then, in 1985, Joel Stegall arrived.
K: It is still rather early in Dr. Stegall's tenure here to say anything meaningful. He
comes from a different background. He was director of the school of music at a
private college in New York--Ithaca College--and before that he was affiliated with a
Baptist institution in North Carolina--Mars Hill College. He is a fine choral conductor,
but I do not know that he has had much teaching experience in his career. He does
seem to have a serious interest in both the students and faculty. How this will all
translate into action remains to be seen. I have high hopes.
N: Well, that pretty well covers my list of questions. Are there any pertinent topics I
have overlooked that you would like to discuss?
K: No, I think you have covered all the serious bases, and I appreciate the
opportunity to give you my two or three cents worth.
N: Thank you very much. It is going to be very well appreciated.