Popular college dean dies of Covid-19

Popular college dean dies of Covid-19


norman lebrecht

April 29, 2020

David S. Boe, Professor of Organ at Oberlin Conservatory and Dean of its Conservatory, died yesterday of Covid-19. He was 83.

An organist and scholar, Boe was a leader in the drive to perform organ music with historically informed performance practices, on organs that were built to historic specifications. John Brombaugh built an organ for First Lutheran Church in Lorain, Ohio, where David Boe was organist. Both church and organ perished in a fire in 2014.

Christa Rakich, visiting Professor of Organ, writes: David was a kind, gentle, and insightful presence not only at Oberlin, but also in the wider organ world. Admiration for his musicianship and his diplomacy were widespread, and the world seems a poorer place for his absence. David had a hand in the acquisition of all of Oberlin’s wonderful organs. Fine instruments and fine players are an equal part of his legacy. In his last days, despite isolation, he was able to hear his son Stephen play Bach on the violin, and to hear the Fairchild organs played by David Kazimir.


  • DAVID D. says:

    David Boe has Much to answe for in terms of the destruction of many great American Symphonic-Romantic and American Municipal Pipe Organs many of which were sent to the bin or revoiced totally neo baroque with too much chiff and scream, and many of those great Pipe Organs like Kimball, Kilgen and especially the great and much revered E. Skinner, Aeolian Skinner and many others that were really good old American pipe organs that were then thrown out for garbage like Bombaugh , Fisk Noack, other builders of “historical stick organs with mixtures that scream . Only need to listen to 32 bombarde from Saint Thomas, Woolsie Hall etc to hear the difference then Busch Risinger Museum Biggs organ which sounds like a fart. Please pay attention to organs by Morton Hope Jones Skinner Austin Estey Roosevelt Hutchings Moller and the like. Many of these Organists who came up in the 70 and 80s just dont have Appreciation for these Pipe Organs and the great tradition, they are interested only in “tractor“ action and small scale, also small buzz reed like Regal, rankett cromhorne Krummhorn Dulzian Musette Trichter Regal, Holz Regal Knopf Regal… these pipes do not have a good sound and most important, do not attract anyone to playing Organ or to be in the audience, like stops like French horn clarinet Oboe unda maris Diaphone vox Humana (ONLY the real kind by em skinner or possibly by Wurlitzer not the old kind on Fisk and others where it is more similar to Regal, Rankett or like that…) now when we look around and say to ourself “gee, wonder where the good old sound organs went, we can look to people like this. I have a major contempt for anyone who will disrespect Pipe organ, especially the real American tradition of organ like Skinner, moller etc and many more

    • Thomas Spacht says:

      Sad to see such an inappropriate and in many ways factually wrong diatribe in response to a obit.

    • Sheila Harley says:

      Totally inappropriate comment. Save it for your Facebook page, Twitter account, etc. Your mum apparently didn’t teach you very good manners, or they just didn’t take.

    • Todd Thomas says:

      You should be ashamed of your self for posting this. I would be so ashamed to share your name or anything with you

    • Jonathan W Moyer says:

      I will assume that you mean no disrespect to David Boe the person and to his family. That aside, I respectfully disagree with your revisionist view of history.

      What exactly do you mean by the “real American tradition?” The one-manual English organs brought over to Boston in the colonial era? The glimmering principal choruses of Tannenberg’s Moravian organs? The singing principals – and yes Mixtures – of Henry Erben, William Goode, Thomas Appleton, and Hook and Hastings? Is the American organ tradition solely defined by its Romantic age, as wonderful as it was?

      Was it really an advance in organ building to remove the control of the wind from the key in place of actions that respond no more subtly than a light-switch? Was Michael Praetorius so off the mark when he said in 1619 that “the organ has reached such a state of perfection that it lacks nothing?”

      We all have aesthetic bias. I do. Yours is Romanticism. At Oberlin we take a larger view and embrace each authentic music, each authentic style of organ, every age – yes, romanticism too – for what they bring to our vast history and tradition.

      There are both extraordinary and deplorable examples of organ construction in every era. Mr. Boe had the refined skill of separating the wheat from the chaff.

      Jonathan W. Moyer
      Chair and Assistant Professor of Organ, Oberlin College

    • Stephen Boe says:

      You have no honor as a human being. If you have any sense of dignity you will respond with your full name and contact information. What a coward to post David D.

    • God says:

      Fuck you you piece of motherfucking shit!!!

    • Johann Sebastian Bach says:

      Hey David D. You stupid fucking coward post your full name! Why don’t you take my historical organ and shove it up your ass!

    • Stephen Boe says:

      Please send me your contact information

  • Mark Wait says:

    David Boe was an elegant, gracious and wise man, and a lovely human being. He will be very much missed.

  • I am immensely saddened by the passing of a quietly towering personality in Oberlin’s history–a great musician, a leader, a diplomat, and a reassuring presence at many crucial points in recent times. His steady guiding hand, gentle sense of humor, and personal warmth will be remembered, and will be sorely missed by all who knew him. Rest in peace, Maestro–I am a better person for having known you.

  • Sally Verburg Livengood says:

    David Boe started teaching at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music while I was a student. I always admired his playing, his teaching, and his quiet manner. I loved the many fine instruments he brought to Oberlin which would enhance the music he loved. We loved the gentle man and his music. Much love to his family.

  • Todd Thomas says:

    David personified poise, humility, dedication, leadership.
    He was an incredible Dean and of the Oberlin Conservatory. Having met others who followed in his career steps at various institutions, I believe he was the gold standard. Thank you Dean Boe for your years of leadership, education and artistry!
    Todd Thomas OC ‘84

  • Shannon says:

    I was a College student but took organ lessons with Mr. Boe all four years at Oberlin. I really appreciated that Mr. Boe made me feel welcome at the studio class each week even though I wasn’t an organ major and never wanted to play myself. If I could, I would still like to spend my Friday afternoons listening to him and his talented students play on the Flentrop organ in Warner Concert Hall. One of my favorite memories from Oberlin is going to his house for the organ studio Christmas party. He had an organ in his living room and we would sing together while he played. He also sponsored my handbell quartet winter term projects and always attended our concerts, even telling a joke between pieces so that we could set up our bells. Lots of love for Mr. Boe.

  • Kevin Vogt says:

    I humbly ask the moderator of this blog to remove the first comment to this post and all related comments. Such an ad hominem attack is beneath the cultural aspirations of this blog, and most certainly an affront to the memory of a most gentle and noble man. The comment goes well beyond revisionist history; it betrays utter ignorance of its subject, articulated in the most crass and disgusting manner, and is therefore the antithesis of the man it attempts to dishonor. May his memory be a blessing.

  • Signore Frescobaldi says:

    Seriously, everyone, don’t feed the troll. Just don’t.

  • John Gerson says:

    Dean Boe was a great man with a wonderful family. His son, Stephen, is a dear friend and superb musician. My deepest sympathy goes out to his family during this difficult time.