Interlochen mourns academy director, 79

Interlochen mourns academy director, 79


norman lebrecht

March 21, 2021

Sad news from the summer school:

Byron Hanson, the first director of both Academy and Camp Music programs, passed away at age 79.

The Interlochen community lost a legend in Byron Hanson, who passed away on March 19, 2021 in Traverse City. Beloved by countless Interlochen students, faculty, staff, and alumni for his musical leadership, gentle kindness, and profound dedication to nurturing young artists, Byron was a fixture and guiding light in our Interlochen family for over 60 years. Among his many important roles at Interlochen Center for the Arts, including as the first-ever director of music for both Arts Camp and Arts Academy and the institution’s first archivist, Byron was a direct link to Interlochen founder Dr. Joseph Maddy, who served as his mentor, colleague, and friend through Byron’s Interlochen education and early career.

Byron Winslade Hanson was born on February 27, 1942, in Edina, Minnesota. He became aware of Interlochen in 1958 as a teenager, when his high school band teacher received a request from Dr. George C. Wilson, director of the National Music Camp (the precursor to Interlochen Arts Camp) for a euphonium player to join the National High School Band for the Camp’s 31st season. Byron was thrilled to take advantage of the opportunity, in which Interlochen covered half the $600 fee for tuition, room, and board….

Read on here.



  • Rudiger says:

    R.I.P. Byron.
    (unfortunately the link is only for Facebook members, btw).

  • Brian Bell says:

    One of the most brilliant musical minds I’ve ever encountered. I played many concerts under his direction, and he challenged the Academy orchestra with the Sibelius Third, Revueltas Sensamaya, and many other works. I was floored when I visited his place and found the collected works of Berlioz, then newly issued, sitting on the shelf.
    Surely it chewed up a significant portion of his income back then.
    I resolved to know as much about music when I got to be his age. I never got there.

  • AnnaT says:

    “Legend” is absolutely correct. I was too immature to fully appreciate him when I played under him at the Academy, but (like those of many good educators, probably) his gifts to me have kept revealing themselves over time. His utter joy in music-making was one.

  • Academy Student says:

    One of the most special musicians and teachers I ever had the opportunity to encounter. A true brain if there ever were one. I was a student at the Academy. He was a kind and gentle soul.

  • Deniz Uz says:

    Mr. Hanson was a musician’s musician. During my studies at the Academy, he represented a link to the best traditions of the past. Mr. Hanson’s well of anecdotes was immense, and his memory for scores prodigious. It was a common occurrence for students to drop by his office unannounced, seeking coaching on whatever it was they were working on at the time, and without missing a beat, Mr. Hanson would start to play the piano reduction from memory. He was quite possibly one of the greatest sight readers in history, and his aural acuity was staggering. Most importantly, he was a great human being, with endless patience and limitless generosity. He had time for anyone who wanted to learn. Interlochen will never be the same. Requiescat in pace, Mr. Hanson. I’ll never forget you.