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Lawrence Moe

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Lawrence Henry Moe

96, U.C. Berkeley Professor of Music and University Organist Emeritus, passed away in Oakland on September 14, 2013. He was born on May 9, 1917, in Chicago. At just age 15, he became organist and choirmaster of his local church. He earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern and Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from Harvard. He taught at Central Washington College in Ellensburg WA, and Wellesley College, and was organist and choirmaster at St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Boston, 1954-1957. He came to U.C. Berkeley in 1957 where he was a Professor of Musicology and University Organist until his retirement in 1987. The University had just created the position that required both a doctorate and organ background, after the 1957 completion of Hertz Hall with its Holtkamp organ. He was chairman of the department for 10 years, where he helped to shape one of the country's leading music departments. He received many awards during his lifetime, including Fulbright awards to study in Europe, the Berkeley Citation for "Distinguished Achievement and Notable Service to the University", and a Distinguished Teaching Award. In 1997 the organ gallery of Hertz Hall was named in his honor.


During his tenure he championed organ music and built a distinguished and unique collection of organs for the University, which includes antique European organs and many new organs built in older styles that allow students to play on organs as they existed centuries ago. The collection allows both players and audiences to continue learning about music from the past. His career included teaching, recitals, recordings, scholarship and administration. His fondness for Baroque music, from Bach and Frescobaldi to Buxtehude, was evident during his numerous concerts at Hertz Hall and across the State and nation, and in his many recordings done in both the US and Europe.


He had been Dean of the SF Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and had served as organist for the SF and Boston Symphonies. He was known for his wide knowledge of past organ building traditions and organ builders in both the US and Europe, and his allegiance to the highest ideals of his profession. He served as consultant in the installation of important organs throughout the Bay Area and on the UC campus, and greatly influenced organ building on the West Coast. During his long career he had the opportunity to meet and often work with prominent musicians, composers, fellow scholars, organists, organ builders, and preforming artists of his day, from Thelonious Monk to E. Power Biggs and Igor Stravinsky.


"Larry" will be remembered as a great story teller, talented musician, good administrator, and a sensible and generous person, who lived a long, rich and productive life, and who was loved by all. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Georgiana, son Eric, daughter Charis Burke (Alex) and two grandchildren, Dillon Moreno and Brigitte Moreno. His talent and legacy will also survive through the organ collection, recordings and the generations of students he mentored. No services per his request.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 22, 2013
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