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Posted 12.19.05

Former Music Professor Dies

Professor Robert Brown, one of the founders of the Wesleyan World Music Program, died recently.

 

Brown was one of the first students to receive a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from University of California Los Angeles. He was appointed assistant professor in Wesleyan’s Music Department in 1961 and joined the tenured ranks of the faculty in 1966. 

 

Brown helped the department to grow rapidly to national and international prominence. He brought with him from UCLA a concept called "performance study group," a musical pedagogy that emphasizes the importance of direct contact between students and master musicians from around the world. In this context, he brought to Wesleyan T. Balasaraswati (1918-1984), the most renowned classical South Indian dancer, and her brothers, a renowned flutist and drummer, T. Viswanathan (1927-2001) and T. Ranganathan (1924-1987), followed by master musicians from Africa, Indonesia and Japan.

 

Professor Brown had an important role in giving Wesleyan’s music program a distinctive character and legacy. After his departure from Wesleyan in 1971, Brown led a program at the American Society for Eastern Arts.

 

In 1973 he established the Center for World Music located in Berkeley, California. From 1979 until his retirement in 1992, he was a professor of music at San Diego State University (SDSU). Bob was known as a promoter of gamelan studies in the United States and beyond.

 

He is survived by a niece and three nephews, and many great nieces and nephews. The arrangements for the memorial service at SDSU are still pending.