Gideon Waldrop, Composer and Former Juilliard Dean, Dies at 80

Gideon Waldrop, Composer and Former Juilliard Dean, Dies at 80

Gideon Waldrop, circa 1961
Photo by Helen Merrill, courtesy Boosey & Hawkes

Gideon Waldrop, a composer and administrator, who served as dean of the Juilliard School of Music for 24 years and was president of the Manhattan School of Music for nearly three years, died on May 19 at his home in Manhattan. He was 80.

Waldrop was born on September 12, 1919 near Abilene, Texas. After receiving a Bachelor of Music degree from Baylor University in Waco, Texas, he went on to Eastman, where he received a Ph. D. in Composition in 1952. During World War II he served in the intelligence division of the Air Force during World War II, for which he was awarded the Bronze Star.

His involvement in the administrative field began in the 1950’s when he was editor of the Review of Recorded Music as well as the Musical Courier. He also served as a music consultant to the Ford Foundation. In 1960 he became the assistant to the president of Juilliard and was appointed dean the next year. During his tenure at Juilliard, the school moved from its old building on Claremont Avenue in Morningside Heights into its new $30 million building at Lincoln Center.

Waldrop with Leontyne Price, photo courtesy Boosey & Hawkes

Mr. Waldrop served as acting president of Juilliard in 1983, following the death of the school’s president Peter Mennin.

From 1986 until 1989, Waldrop was president of the Manhattan School of Music, which had taken over the old Juilliard building on Claremont Avenue. He resigned this post over disagreements with the board.

Waldrop’s orchestral compositions include a symphony (1952) and the suite From the Southwest (1964); he also wrote chamber works, choral pieces, and songs.

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