Marilyn Mason

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Marilyn Mason
Born(1925-06-29)June 29, 1925
Alva, Oklahoma, U.S.
DiedApril 4, 2019(2019-04-04) (aged 93)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.
Occupation(s)University professor, teacher, soloist
Instruments Organ
Years active1947–2014

Marilyn May Mason (June 29, 1925 – April 4, 2019) was an American concert organist, recording artist, and professor. Mason joined the staff of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1947, became chair of the organ department in 1962, and was named a professor in 1965. [1]


Life and career

Born in Alva, Oklahoma, Mason enrolled at the University of Michigan (U-M), where she earned both a Bachelor and Master degree in music. She was so proficient, she joined the U-M music faculty, in 1947, even before she had graduated. Except for spending one summer in France studying organ with noted artists Maurice Duruflé and Nadia Boulanger, and some additional time earning the Doctor of Sacred Music degree at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, Mason has spent almost her entire career at U-M. [2]

Alva, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Alva is a city in and the county seat of Woods County, Oklahoma, United States, along the Salt Fork Arkansas River. The population was 4,945 at the 2010 census. Northwestern Oklahoma State University is located in Alva.

Union Theological Seminary (New York City) independent, ecumenical, Christian seminary in New York City

Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York is an independent, non-denominational, seminary grounded in the Christian tradition, located in New York City. It is the oldest independent seminary in the United States and has long been known as a bastion of progressive Christian scholarship, with a number of prominent thinkers among its faculty or alumni. It was founded in 1836 by members of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., but was open to students of all denominations. In 1893, Union rescinded the right of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church to veto faculty appointments, thus becoming fully independent. In the 20th century, Union became a center of liberal Christianity. It served as the birthplace of the Black theology, womanist theology, and other theological movements. Union houses the Columbia University Burke Library, one of the largest theological libraries in the Western Hemisphere.

Her career as performer, lecturer, adjudicator, and teacher has taken her throughout the western world, at one point performing more than thirty recitals per year. In 1988, she was described as "among the important influences on the American organ scene in the second half of the 20th century" by the American Guild of Organists New York Chapter when she was named International Performer of the Year. [3] Over her career, she has also commissioned over 75 original works for the organ. [4] In 1985, a C. B. Fisk organ modeled on the eighteenth-century organs of Gottfried Silbermann was commissioned by the University of Michigan School of Music and named the Marilyn Mason Organ in her honor. [5] She was the first American woman organist to perform in Westminster Abbey, the first woman organist to play in Latin America, and the first American organist to perform in Egypt. Mason's teaching legacy was recognized in the fall of 2007 when the 47th Conference on Organ Music, which she founded in 1960, was dedicated to her in celebration of her 60th year of teaching. On the occasion of the 2009 GALA, sponsored by the national council of the American Guild of Organists, she was honored as the seventh in a series of organ teachers/performers who have reached the highest level of success in their profession. [6]

American Guild of Organists organization

The American Guild of Organists (AGO) is a national organization of academic, church, and concert organists in the U.S., headquartered in The Interchurch Center in New York City. Founded as both an educational and service organization, it was chartered by the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York in 1896, with the authority to grant titles of associate or fellow to members who passed required examinations. Henry Houseley was a Founder of the American Guild of Organists, and Clifford Demarest played an important role in its first two decades. The Guild seeks to set and maintain high musical standards and to promote understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music.

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Gottfried Silbermann was a German builder of keyboard instruments. He built harpsichords, clavichords, organs, and fortepianos; his modern reputation rests mainly on the latter two.

A biographical video retrospective, "A Life's Harmony," was created in 2007 to recognize Mason's exceptional teaching and mentorship. [7] She was the longest-serving faculty member at the University of Michigan, retiring after 67 years, [8] and was recognized in 2013 with a symposium in her honor titled "Teacher of Music, Teacher of Life". [9] [10] Mason died on April 4, 2019 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, aged 93. [11]

Fort Lauderdale, Florida City in Florida, United States

Fort Lauderdale is a city in the U.S. state of Florida, 28 miles (45 km) north of Miami. It is the county seat of Broward County. As of the 2017 census, the city has an estimated population of 180,072. Fort Lauderdale is a principal city of the Miami metropolitan area, which was home to an estimated 6,158,824 people in 2017.

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  1. Gotwals, Vernon (2001). "Mason, Marilyn". In Sadie, Stanley. New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians (2nd ed.). Macmillan.
  2. Carlyn, Marilou. "Music professor retires after record-breaking 67 years." The University Record. May 19, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2018.
  3. "Marilyn Mason: 1988 International Performer of the Year". New York City Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  4. Pepple, Steve (September 17, 2007). "Music Professor's Career Spans 6 Decades". Ann Arbor News . Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  5. "Organs at Michigan: The Marilyn Mason Organ". University of Michigan. Retrieved March 4, 2014.
  6. School of Music. "Marilyn Mason". University of Michigan. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  7. "A Life's Harmony: University of Michigan Organist Marilyn Mason". University of Michigan News Service. Retrieved March 3, 2014 via YouTube.
  8. Carlin, Marilou. "Music professor retires after record-breaking 67 years". The University Record. The University of Michigan. Retrieved May 19, 2014.
  9. School of Music. "Teacher of Music, Teacher of Life". University of Michigan. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  10. Sullivan, Maureen (October 18, 2007). "60 Years Behind the Keys". Michigan Daily. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Retrieved March 3, 2014.
  11. "Marilyn Mason Obituary". Ann Arbor News. Retrieved April 5, 2019.