One of the pioneers of historic brass research and recipient of the HBS Monk Award, Mary Rasmussen died on January 26. Her articles in the Brass Quarterly and A teacher's Guide to the Literature of Brass Instruments sparked the interests of those who launched the historic brass movement.
I only met Mary once. It was at the 1998 Early Brass Festival where she was awarded the Christopher Monk Award for her exemplary scholarship in historic brass. I found her to be a warm and vital woman who was genuinely honored by the event.
Her colleague, Prof. Mark DeVoto has kindly agreed to let us publish his remembrance of Prof. Rasmussen
With sorrow I inform our fellowship of the death of Mary Helen Rasmussen, Professor emerita of Music at the University of New Hampshire, on 26 January in Durham, New Hampshire. She was 77 years old and had suffered from cancer, intermittently but eventually finally, since the early 1970s.
Mary was a splendid colleague and a treasured friend of many of us, a "true polymath," as the minute on her retirement described her in 1997. We knew her as a self-taught musicologist of remarkable ability and accomplishment and amazing versatility, skilled in many areas of music-making and a tireless researcher in a wide variety of areas. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a bachelor's degree in 1952 and then went to the University of Illinois, receiving a Master of Music in low brass performance in 1953 and a Master of Library Science in 1956. For two years, she taught public school in Gorham, New Hampshire, and was always proud that of all the music faculty at UNH, where she was appointed in 1968, she was the only member to have actually taught in the New Hampshire school system.
That Mary never received a doctorate was of no consequence to her productivity and learning. She was the recipient of a Fulbright award and grants from the Ford and Guggenheim foundations. She was a regular contributor to the CMS and to AMS meetings locally and nationally, and lectured at many different institutions, including Harvard, Boston University, and the University of Wisconsin. On the UNH faculty she taught several historical courses but also directed the string methods program, finding time to become a decent cellist who performed regularly, and achieved a statewide renown as a skilled repairer of stringed instruments.
Mary published articles and reviews in a number of different journals, but also became her own publisher. She founded Brass Quarterly in 1957, merging it soon with Woodwind Quarterly, and the combined journal continued until 1969. From the 1970s she became increasingly active in the field of musical iconography and collected photographs from all over the world. Her magnum opus, Musical Subjects in Western European Art, was the focus of more than two decades of effort, but it remains unfinished.
A memorial service for Mary is in the planning stage, to occur sometime in the spring.
--Mark DeVoto formerly Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities, the University of New Hampshire, 1968-1981