TACOMA, Wash. – Geoffrey Block is a trailblazing scholar of Broadway musicals; he publishes endlessly; he’s the composer of four musicals; and he has made characters from music’s history—Beethoven, Schubert, Mozart, Richard Rodgers, Charles Ives—spark to life for almost four decades of college students.
In May the University of Puget Sound distinguished professor of music history will bring one dramatic act of his career to an end and begin to scribble out another.
No one who knows Block, author of the seminal work Enchanted Evenings: The Broadway Musical from “Show Boat” to Sondheim and Lloyd Webber, could ever say he is retiring. But the irrepressibly enthusiastic, dauntingly well-versed scholar, writer, speaker, editor, and educator will shift to part-time teaching, after 38 years, and devote himself to writing.
“Geoffrey’s contributions to musical scholarship are profound,” said Keith Ward, director of the School of Music. “It is impossible to summarize adequately such a distinguished career of nearly 40 years. And he remains, to his core, a faculty member devoted to and passionate about teaching excellence.”
In Block’s honor, Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Anna Wittstruck, is performing a season finale concert, Theatricality and Nostalgia, on Friday, April 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Schneebeck Concert Hall. A reception will be held after the concert, at about 8:30 p.m., in the adjoining Music Building, Room 106. The concert and reception are free and open to all.
The symphony will perform works by Wolfgang Mozart, Maurice Ravel, Charles Gounod, Gaetano Donizetti, Benjamin Britten, and Leonard Bernstein, and will feature the winners of the school’s 2017 Concerto-Aria Competition, Danielle Rogers ’18, soprano, and Aric MacDavid ’20, bassoon. Geoffrey Block will narrate for Britten’s The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra.
A national conference also is being held in Block’s honor by The Great American Songbook Foundation, May 9–11, in Carmel, Ind. Reading Musicals: Sources, Editions, Performance is being held to recognize “both Block’s own scholarship and his stewardship of the work of others through Oxford’s Broadway Legacies and Yale’s Broadway Masters series,” the foundation announced. Block served as editor for both series, shepherding 18 books to print.
Geoffrey Block’s accomplishments make for a long list. Other highlights include his books Schubert’s Reputation from His Time to Ours (2017) and Experiencing Beethoven (2016), both of which led to interviews on KING FM classical radio in Seattle. In all, he authored six books, served as contributing editor of two more, and wrote articles, notes, and essays for 64 publications.
Block has given keynote addresses on the Broadway musical at four national and international conferences and has served in roles for the American Musicological Society, Society for American Music, and National Endowment for the Arts. He was a consultant for films on Richard Rodgers and Frank Loesser, and his name appears in 12 national and international music directories.
At Academic Convocation on Saturday, May 12, an event to honor students’ exceptional academic achievements, Block will serve as faculty speaker. Then, from the fall semester on, he will teach one or two courses a year—and write. He says:
“Over the next few months I hope to complete two new book proposals, one on the many connections between musical and nonmusical films and the musical stage. I’m also hatching a number of other book-length projects and articles. My goal is to continue learning and writing about music and its history until I die or lose my marbles—whichever comes first.”
Press photos of Geoffrey Block can be downloaded from pugetsound.edu/pressphotos.
Photos on page: Geoffrey Block, by Ross Mulhausen
For More Music Events visit the School of Music calendar.
Tweet this: The end? Hardly. Geoffrey Block, #musichistory #broadwaymusicals professor @univpugetsound is shifting course in a magical career. Free symphony concert in his honor Fri. April 13. #Tacoma. Conference in his honor by @SongbookFdn in #Carmel, Ind. May 9–11. https://bit.ly/2GniULh
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