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Alain Barker
IU Jacobs School of Music

Linda Cajigas
IU Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A celebration in honor of IU's Thomas Baldner

Feb. 20, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The IU Jacobs School of Music will host a celebration, March 6, in honor of the life of conducting professor Thomas Baldner, who retires from the Jacobs School at the end of the 2008 spring semester, following more than 30 years of service.

The event, at 5 p.m. in the Musical Arts Center, will include a reading by the University Orchestra -- conducted by Maestro Baldner -- of Gluck's overture to Alceste and Schubert's Symphony No. 9 (Great). Both works were conducted by Baldner during his first concert, following his appointment as chair of the Department of Instrumental Conducting at Indiana University in 1976.

Thomas Baldner

Thomas Baldner

"This gathering will provide the community, the University, Professor Baldner's colleagues, and his admirers an opportunity to reconnect with his musical and pedagogical gifts," said IU Jacobs School of Music Dean Gwyn Richards, "and it will afford a chance for all to express appreciation for his legacy of more than 30 years of dedicated service to Indiana University."

Professor David Effron, chair of the Department of Instrumental Conducting, said, "Thomas Baldner's retirement will end an important era in the history of the conducting department of this illustrious school. As pedagogue, master teacher, and father figure to hundreds of aspiring conducting students, Professor Baldner's hand in the development of young maestri through the years can be felt throughout the world, where his former students now occupy major positions as music directors and successful professors in their own right."

When invited by then Dean Charles Webb to join the IU faculty in 1976, Baldner had high hopes and expectations. "I was fascinated by the possibility of fulfilling my artistic dreams, surrounded by a major university, with its incredible intellectual and artistic stimulation," he said. In considering his retirement, Baldner feels that he has accomplished much. "Having achieved this goal, with 96 semesters, including summer sessions, I cannot imagine a musical life more satisfying. It's a dream come true."

Born in Berlin in 1928, son of cellist Max Baldner, Thomas Baldner studied music at the Berlin Academy of Music. His professional activities as conductor began while still studying in Berlin and Freiburg. With a series of scholarships, he obtained a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music from the IU Jacobs School of Music in the early 1950s. Baldner continued his studies with Pierre Monteux and, in 1954, founded the Greenwich Philharmonia Orchestra, remaining as principal conductor for four years.

Returning to Europe, Baldner guest conducted many major orchestras, including the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic, Philharmonic Orchestra of London, Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra, Munich Philharmonic and the Santa Cecilia Orchestra. Through his career, he has participated in numerous recordings and productions for radio and television.

In 1960, Baldner was a prize winner in the International Competition for Conductors at the Academia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome. From 1963 to 1971, he was principal conductor and artistic director of the Rheinisches Kammerorchester in Cologne, Germany, and from 1971 to 1976, he guest conducted numerous orchestras in Europe, the U.S., South America and Asia.

Since his appointment to the faculty of Indiana University, Baldner has conducted approximately 160 concerts and 30 opera productions. He served as chair of the Department of Instrumental Conducting at IU from 1976 to 2000.