Ferguson, Donald N. (Donald Nivison), 1882-1985Variant names
Donald Nivison Ferguson received his B.A. from the University of Wisconsin in 1904, studied privately in London and began teaching piano and directing the West High School orchestra in 1909. In 1914, he joined the University of Minnesota faculty and founded the University Symphony Orchestra. He received his M.A. in 1922. Ferguson was the author of several books, a founder and director of the Bach Society, and wrote program notes for the Minneapolis Symphony. After mandatory retirement from the University of Minnesota, Ferguson became head of the Music Dept. of Macalester College, and remained there 9 years. The University of Minnesota's music building, Ferguson Hall, was named in his honor.
From the description of Donald Nivison Ferguson papers, 1922-1985. (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis). WorldCat record id: 62493075
Donald Nivison Ferguson was born June 30, 1882 at Waupan, Wisconsin. While always interested in music, it was not until his junior year at the University of Wisconsin that he began to pursue music in earnest. In 1905, a year after graduating from Wisconsin, he went to London to study piano under pianist Michael Hambourg and to take composition from composer J. Holbrooke. He settled in Minneapolis in 1909 where he taught piano privately, and directed the orchestra at West High School. In 1914, he joined the staff of the University of Minnesota's Department of Music, and founded the University Symphony Orchestra. Ferguson received his M.A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1922, writing his thesis on troubadour music. On a leave of absence from 1929-30, Ferguson studied at the University of Vienna. He gained full professorship in 1927. Posthumously, in 1985, Macalester awarded him an honorary doctor of fine arts degree.
Ferguson was interested in all fields of the humanities--philosophy, aesthetics, literature, languages, art, and dance. He was a respected member of the American Society of Aesthetics, served as President of the Minnesota Music Teachers' Association and was Vice-President of the National College Music Association. Well known as a music scholar, Ferguson was the author of several books, including: A History of Musical Thought (1935, 1948), A Short History of Music (1940), Masterworks of the Orchestral Repertoire (1954), Music and a Metaphor (1960), and the Why of Music (1969). A History of Musical Thought became a standard text in colleges for many years, and, at the time of his death was still in print. He was a founder and director of the Bach Society, and wrote program notes for the Minneapolis Symphony.
Mandatory retirement from the University of Minnesota in 1950 did not end Ferguson's academic career. He accepted a position as Head of the Department of Music at Macalester College, St. Paul that he held for nine years.
The University of Minnesota honored Ferguson by naming the new music building located on the West Bank the Donald N. Ferguson Hall. Although present at the groundbreaking in 1982, he died at the age of 102 in 1985, before the building was dedicated.
From the guide to the Donald Nivison Ferguson papers, 1922-1985, (University of Minnesota Libraries. University Archives [uarc])
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