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November 15, 2004
Former music chair White dies at 84
BY Sally Corbett
Internationally recognized music historian and a longtime leader of Atlanta’s arts community Chappell White died Nov. 2 in Sewanee, Tenn. He was 84.
Born in Atlanta, White was the son of former Emory President Goodrich White and author Helen Chappell White. He is remembered as a key figure in Emory history for advancing the arts, advocating for a permanent home for the arts and teaching future musicians and patrons.
White graduated from Druid Hills High School in 1936 and then from Emory College four years later. He earned a master’s degrees from Westminster Choir College (1942) and Princeton (1952), going on to receive his Ph.D. from the latter in 1957. During World War II, he served in the U.S. Army Air Corps, flying 25 combat missions from 1944–45.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, White was on Emory’s faculty, serving first as chair of the Department of Fine Arts and later of the Department of Music. White was a violist and member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, and he was music critic for the Atlanta Journal. White specialized in late 18th century music, authoring books on Vivaldi, Viotti and Wagner.
“Chappell was the first one on the scene, the lone man trying to build a music program,” said retired business school professor and Friend of Music past president James Hund. “If you live long enough, you may see your dreams unfold, and fortunately he was able to attend the dedication of the Schwartz Center.”
Donna Schwartz, ’62C, a recent Emory Medal recipient, remembered White as an inspiring professor. “Every-body really loved him; he was the main music teacher, and I took as many electives with him as I could,” Schwartz said. “Years later, when an arts center was proposed, it seemed like the best idea in the world. Chappell White is in that arts center.”
Anne Jones, widow of the late Boisfeuillet Jones, credited White as a great arts leader on and off campus. “Chap combined his talents as a professional artist, educator, historian and music critic, which enabled him to serve as a bridge in the arts between Emory and the greater community,” she said.
In 1974, White joined the music faculty at Kansas State University. In 1992, he retired and joined the faculty of the University of the South in Sewanee, where he taught part-time until 2002. White is survived by his wife, Barbara; daughters Patricia (a staff member at Emory’s School of Law) and Victoria; a son, Tyler Goodrich, and daughter-in-law Laura; and two grandchildren.