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Lecture on pioneering composer and RU professor, Robert Moevs, Wed. Oct. 9

September 18, 2013
flyer for this svent with headshot of Robert Moews

Rutgers University Libraries is delighted to present a special program, "The Remarkable Music of Robert Moevs," honoring the pioneering composer and Rutgers professor. Moevs scholar, student, and friend Richard Wilson of Vassar College will explore the composer's work in an intimate program at the Douglass Library on October 9th.

Robert Moevs (1920-2007) was born in a German-speaking community in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His unusual musical talent became apparent at an early age; he gave his first solo piano recital at the age of nine. After graduating from Harvard, where he studied with Walter Piston, Moevs served as a pilot in the Second World War. After the war, he moved to Paris to work with acclaimed pianist Nadia Boulanger before returning to teach at Harvard. In 1964, Moevs was appointed Associate Professor of Music at Rutgers, where he taught composition until his retirement in 1991 at the rank of Professor II.

Although his compositions were performed publicly as early as the 1940s, Moevs burst onto the international scene in 1959 with the premier of Attis, his setting of the Catullus poem for tenor, chorus, and orchestra commissioned by the Boston Symphony. Described as "bold and startling," the work has been compared to Stravinsky's Le Sacre du Printemps. Moevs ultimately wrote over seventy-five compositions in various idioms. He had a unique voice, which does not fit into any particular category. "How can one classify him? As a romantic, perhaps, or impressionist, but with a modern tongue. This man is following no trails; he is blazing highways." (Harold Rogers in the Christian Science Monitor, February 13, 1960.)

Composer and pianist Richard Wilson attended Harvard and that is where he first encountered Professor Moevs, who would become his mentor. After graduation Wilson followed Moevs to the American Academy at Rome, and then to Rutgers, where he earned a Master's degree.

Richard Wilson has himself composed over one hundred works, ranging in medium from solo tuba to full orchestra, which have been played in major halls around the world. He has received numerous awards, including an Academy Award and the Walter Hinrichsen Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Creative Arts Award in Music from the City of Cleveland, the Stoeger Award from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, and a Guggenheim Fellowship under which he composed his opera Aethelred the Unready. Since 1966, Richard Wilson has been a member of the Vassar faculty where he occupies the Mary Conover Mellon Chair in Music.

The program will be held on Wednesday, October 9th at 4:00 p.m. in the Mabel Smith Douglass Room at the Douglass Library on 8 Chapel Drive in New Brunswick. A reception will follow.

This program accompanies a major exhibition, On the Banks of the Raritan: Music at Rutgers and New Brunswick in the Special Collections and University Archives galleries, in Alexander Library on the College Ave. campus in New Brunswick. The exhibition features a section on Robert Moevs, whose papers are now held at the Performing Arts Library (located in the Douglass Library). For more information on the exhibition and program, please contact Fernanda Perrone at or 848-932-6154.