Lloyd Pfautsch

Longtime professor, choral conductor at SMU

By Scott Cantrell

Classical Music Critic – Dallas Morning News

Sat Oct 4 2003

 

Lloyd Pfautsch, longtime professor of sacred music and director of choral activities at Southern Methodist University, died Friday morning at Baylor University Medical Center after suffering a major stroke Tuesday. He was 82.

 

One of the country’s most respected university choral conductors and teachers for half a century, Mr. Pfautsch was also a widely published and  performed composer. Between his arrival in Dallas in 1958 and his retirement in 1002, he made both SMU and Dallas nationally recognized as centers of choral music.

 

“He changed the face of American choral conducting,” said Kenneth Hart, director of the SMU graduate program in sacred music. “Probably in the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s you couldn’t find any significant church program in the country that didn’t have one or more of his anthems.”

 

Mar. Pfautsch established SMU’s graduate program in choral conducting and the master of sacred music degree offered jointly by SMU’s Perkins School of theology and Meadows School of the Arts. He conducted the Meadows Chorale, Mustang Chorale and Choral Union, and for three years was associate dean of the Meadows School and chairman of the music division.

 

Soon after arriving at SMU, Mr. Pfautsch also founded  the Dallas Civic Chorus which he directed for 25 years. The group gave its own concerts and performed regularly with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

 

“He was certainly the choral director of record for so many years,” said Larry Palmer, professor of organ and harpsichord and chair of the keyboard division of the Meadows School of the Arts. “He put SMU on the map, chorally.”

 

Mr. Pfautsch’s students have gone on to positions as choral directors in churches, colleges and universities around the world. His influence also spread through choral clinics and workshops he gave throughout the country.

 

Born in 1921 in Washington, Mo., Mr. Pfautsch graduated from Elmhurst College in Illinois and received master’s degrees in divinity and sacred music from Union Theological Seminary in New York. He was ordained a minister in the Evangelical and Reformed Church (later part of the United Church of Christ_, but turned down a pastorate to pursue music.

 

A gifted bass-baritone, he sang with the Robert Shaw Chorale and the NBC radio chorus during his graduate studies, and he sang the title role in Mendelssohn’s Elijah in performances throughout the country. One of Shaw’s other singers, Edith Herseth, became his wife.

 

Mr. Pfautsch was awarded honorary doctorates from Elmhurst College, Illinois Wesleyan University and West Virginia Wesleyan College. At SMU he received the Outstanding Professor Award three times and the Distinguished Teacher/Scholar Award and in 1984 he was named the Meadows Foundation Distinguished Teaching Professor.

 

In addition to his wife, Edith, Mr. Pfautsch is survived by a daughter, Deborah Pfautsch of Trumansburg, N.Y. and three sons, Peter Pfautsch of Dallas, Eric Pfautsch of Sioux City, Iowa, and John Pfautsch of Fairfax, Va.

 

A memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Preston and Walnut Hill. A memorial service for SMU will be held at a later date at Perkins Chapel.

 

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