Learning and Academia

Learning and teaching have been important parts of Harvey Sollberger's life. Though retired from teaching, he remains an avid and ever-hopeful student in a number of areas.

Harvey Sollberger began his study of music in his hometown, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, at the age of four in 1942. His teacher was Elmer Young, a local dance band leader. The first piece he learned was The Prune Song which subsequently carried him to victory the next year in the Rath Talent Review sponsored by radio station WMT. A good musical foundation was thus laid and carried over into his studies with Arlene Boddicker of the Boddicker School of Accordion, which he undertook at the age of eight. The flute came into Sollberger's life when he was eleven, and one day at the age of fifteen he experienced a kind of epiphany that led him to devote his life to music and the flute thenceforth. He was fortunate in having Paul Wright as his band director and teacher in Marion, Iowa. During these years the flute and the accordion came into conflict, with Harvey vigorously rejecting the accordion (“an Oedipal thing”) in favor of the flute. Nevertheless, at his parents' (inflexible) urging, he continued to study and play the accordion until he was eighteen and left for Iowa City to attend the University of Iowa. During his last two years of high school, he studied flute with Julia Denecke, wife of the Cedar Rapids Symphony conductor, who had been a student of George Barrere and who was one of the first female musicians to be hired by a major American symphony orchestra. During his final year of high school, he received three solo firsts in state contest and was, as well, the first recipient of the Major Landers Award and scholarship offered by the Iowa Bandmasters Association.

Iowa City and the University of Iowa provided a rich learning environment for the next four years, and Sollberger benefited greatly from his flute studies with Betty Bang Mather (and also, during his junior year, with Edna Symonds). He began to compose at this time, and studied composition with Eldon Obrecht and Philip Bezansen. James Dixon was a wonderful example as a conductor, and Sollberger learned the value of “preparation” in a semester's study with him. Subsequently, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship took him to Columbia University in New York City in 1960, where his composition teachers were Jack Beeson and Otto Luening. Jack became his model for the teaching of composition through his ability to sympathetically enter the “world” of a student's piece, perceiving its potential and limitations to a greater degree than the student, her/himself. His method – if such it can be called - was one of solid criticism (and appreciation) without dogma or prescription. The student was left to digest and deal with the implications of Jack's comments on his/her own. Sollberger also fruitfully studied flute with Samuel Baron for a year at this time.

While formal education is one thing, we also – if we're lucky and alert – pick-up a great deal from our peers and fellow-students. Laird Addis in Iowa City, Charles Wuorinen in New York, and Roger Reynolds in San Diego – all close contemporaries - were three very different colleagues whose dedication and example mattered greatly to Harvey Sollberger in different ways at different times. He was nourished and encouraged, as well, by his contact with various older colleagues, above all, Milton Babbitt, Elliott Carter, Gunther Schuller, Stefan Wolpe and Edgard Varese.

Formal studies end, and when Sollberger's did, he began to teach, first at Columbia University (1965-1982) and the Manhattan School of Music (1972-1982). At Columbia he taught composition, theory and orchestration and co-founded – with Charles Wuorinen and Joel Krosnik – the Group for Contemporary Music. At the Manhattan School he founded the School's new music ensemble, The Contemporary Ensemble, and taught flute, flute literature and composition.

In 1983, Harvey Sollberger joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Music as a member of the composition faculty. He led the School's New Music Ensemble from 1983 to 1989 and took them on tour to New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco, while also conducting concerts with several of the School's orchestras. 1992 saw his removal to Southern California, where he joined the faculty of the Music Department at the University of California, San Diego. While there he taught conducting and performance courses and composition. From 1993 to 1998 he led the Department's new music ensembles, SONOR and SIRIUS, and from 1998 to 2005 was Music Director of the La Jolla Symphony and Chorus. Sollberger retired from UCSD in 2008 with the rank of Distinguished Professor.

Aside from the full-time positions described above, Harvey Sollberger also held a number of semester-long visiting professorships over the years at Stony Brook University, Temple University, William Paterson College, the State University of New York at Purchase, the Philadelphia Academy of the Performing Arts, the City College of New York, Indiana University, California Institute of the Arts, Amherst College and the University of North Texas. He has also taught and given classes at the June in Buffalo Festival, the International Festival-Institute at Round Top, California State University Summer Arts, the Festival at Sandpoint, the Summer Institute of the American Society of University Composers, the Hurley Woods Center of the Creative Music Foundation, Sonoklect New Music Festival, the Colly Soleri Music Center at Arcosanti and the Composers Conference at Wellesley College.

Another teaching initiative dear to Harvey's heart was his Flute Farm, a summer program for flutists focused on contemporary flute repertoire and techniques. The Flute Farm was given every summer from 1975 through 1983 and took place in Cherry Valley, New York, Siena Italy, The Creative Music Studio in Woodstock, New York and at Bowling Green State University. Over the years, more than 100 flutists participated in the program.

Harvey Sollberger mentored hundreds of talented musicians between 1965 and 2008. They include:

Kolbeinn Bjarnasson, flutist, Caput Ensemble, Iceland.

Marilyn Bliss, New York City.

Sandra Brown, New York City.

Lucianne Cardassi, The Banff Centre (Canada).

Benjamin Carson, University of California, Santa Cruz

Cindy Cox, University of California, Berkeley

Antonio Cunha, University of Porto Allegre, Brazil.

Patti Cudd, Zeitgeist, Twin Cities.

Susan Deaver, C.W. Post College.

David Dzubay, Indiana University.

Leonard Garrison, University of Idaho.

Joseph Klein, University of North Texas.

Daniel Koppelman, Furman University.

Jeffrey Kresky, William Paterson College

Peter Lieberson, deceased.

Hugh Livingston, San Francisco.

Elizabeth McNutt, University of North Texas.

Mark Menzies, California Institute of the Arts.

Pat O'Keefe, Zeitgeist, Twin Cities.

David Olan, Baruch College, City University of New York.

Wendy Rolfe, The Berklee School of Music.

Rachel Rudich, California Institute of the Arts.

J. Mark Scearce, North Carolina State University.

Eric Simonson, Danville Community College.

Sandra Sprecher, The Firehouse, Brooklyn, NY

Dorothy Stone, deceased.

Timothy Wilson, Hong Kong Conservatory.

W.H., 2013