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Release: Sept. 13, 2002


Photo by Tom Jorgensen

A legend of the clarinet and one of the most influential music educators of the past century, the University of Iowa’s Himie Voxman turns 90 this year. This milestone will be celebrated as it should be -- in music -- with concerts in his honor: one by faculty from the School of Music that he headed for 26 years, at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27; and one by former students, at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28.

Both concerts are free and will be held in Clapp Recital Hall on the UI campus. Following the Friday night concert, a reception in Voxman’s honor will be held in the Clapp Hall lobby.

Voxman is among the UI’s most honored faculty and administrators. A 1933 graduate of the university, he served as director of the UI School of Music from 1954 until his retirement in 1980. Among many other honors, the UI Music Building was named in his honor in 1995 and he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Clarinet Association in 2000.

“Himie Voxman has been pivotal in making the School of Music a nationally respected and admired institution,” Interim UI President Willard L. (“Sandy”) Boyd commented. “He has been stalwart in his commitment to his university through many decades. Himie's special leadership is also marked by personal warmth and concern for people. I remember, for example, how the Voxmans moved out of their home to accommodate Vladimir Horowitz when he came here to perform.

“We all wish Himie Voxman the happiest of birthdays.”

For the Friday concert by IU faculty, clarinetist Maurita Murphy Mead and pianist Carole Thomas will play the Sonatina of Ernst Mahle and “Amazing Grace”; the Iowa Woodwind Quintet will perform works that were edited by Voxman -- “Rustic Holiday” by Paul Koepke, Suite for wind quintet, op. 57, by Charles Lefebvre, and the Finale from Quintet, op. 79, by August Klughardt -- as well as the Quintet No. 2 by Iowan Alvin Etler; and the Iowa Brass Quintet will play “Centone No.V” by Samuel Scheidt, Quintet No. 1 by Victor Ewald, “The Golyardes’ Grounde” by Malcolm Forsyth, and “La Rose Nuptiale” by Calixa Lavallee.

On Saturday, former students, current and retired UI music faculty and other musicians will honor Voxman with performances of music ranging from clarinet solos with piano to small ensembles and a clarinet choir of 18 players. Participants will include music alumni from across the country; pianist Sue Haug, director of the School of Music at Iowa State University; violinist Leopold La Fosse from the UI faculty; pianists James Avery from Endingen, Germany, and Richard Bloesch, who recently retired from the UI choral conducting faculty; percussionist Tom Davis, another retired UI faculty member, playing with local musicians in a small jazz combo; and Myron Welch, UI director of bands and coordinator of the weekend’s activities, leading the clarinet choir.

Voxman is slightly taken aback and bemused by all the attention. “I’m very grateful for all of those people who thought this occasion important enough to make a fuss,” he said. “In fact, it’s embarrassing.”

Kristin Thelander, the current director of the UI School of Music, commented on Voxman’s importance to musicians at the UI: “He has influenced every student and faculty member because of his stature as a performer, pedagogue, and administrator, as well as because of his research in 18th and 19th century wind literature and his numerous editions of music. In a way professor Voxman represents the comprehensive nature of our School of Music and the breadth of interests and pursuits for which many of us continue to strive.”

“Himie Voxman represents the epitome of leadership in American music education for generations of teachers and artists in the country,” said David Nelson, director of the UI Division of Performing Arts and former director of the School of Music.

Organist Delbert Disselhorst is one of the current music faculty members who taught at the UI when Voxman was head of the School of Music. “I’ve always felt very fortunate to have been a faculty member under his direction,” he said. “He’s a gifted humanitarian, teacher and administrator.”

Voxman studied clarinet as a youth in Centerville, Iowa, with William Gower Sr., and in New York with prominent clarinet teacher Gustave Langenus. He earned a bachelor’s degree from the UI with high distinction in chemical engineering in 1933 and received a master’s degree in 1934 in the psychology of music, studying with pioneering researcher Carl Seashore.

He taught woodwinds in nearby public schools, and in 1939 became a full-time UI faculty member. In 1954 he succeeded Philip Greeley Clapp as director of the UI School of Music, a position he held for 26 years until his retirement in 1980. Voxman’s numerous method books and editions of music for wind instruments have been used around the world for many years.

Voxman has received numerous professional awards and honors during his career, including the 1983 Edwin Franko Goldman Citation of the American Bandmasters’ Association, in recognition of his “conspicuous service in the interest of bands and band music in America”; the 1991 National Federation Award of Merit for the Voxman Selected Studies Series for band instruments; and the Medal of Honor from the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic.

He received the UI’s Distinguished Alumni Award for Achievement in 1992, and in 1995 the Iowa Board of Regents approved the request from current and former faculty, alumni and a large circle of Voxman’s friends to name the Music Building after him. In 2000 the International Clarinet Association chose him as only its third member, and first American, to receive its Lifetime Achievement Award, citing his “outstanding research, teaching, publication and service to the world of clarinet.”

The School of Music is part of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

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