OBITUARY: Grant Beglarian, 74

OBITUARY: Grant Beglarian, 74

Beglarian during his tenure as dean of the school of performing arts, University of Southern California

Composer, educator, and foundation executive Grant Beglarian died at White Plains (NY) Hospital on July 5, 2002. He was 74.

Born in Tiflis, Georgia in the Soviet Union, Beglarian grew up in Iran and received his early music education there. He came to the United States in 1947 and enrolled at the University of Michigan where he studied composition with Ross Lee Finney (BM 1950, MM 1952, DMA 1958). He also studied with Aaron Copland at Tanglewood in 1959-60 and counted him among his principal influences. Beglarian was later a pivotal figure in the restoration and administration of the Copland House.

Though a gifted composer and musician, Beglarian was probably best known in the music world for his skill as an administrator. He served as an editor at Prentice-Hall (1960-61) and director of the Contemporary Music Project at the Ford Foundation (1961-69). He was dean of the School of Performing Arts at the University of Southern California (1969-82), where he oversaw the establishment of the fabled Arnold Schoenberg Institute and was president (1982-89) of the National Foundation for Advancement of the Arts, based in Miami. From the mid-1990s until his death, he oversaw collaborations with educational and internet organizations in 67 countries as International Coordinator and Director of Global Partnerships of Thinkquest, a non-profit organization devoted to advancing education through the use of technology. In 1996, he was elected to the board of directors of Copland House and became chair of its Friends of Copland House.

(left to right) Copland House Board President Florence H. Stevens, Artistic Director Michael Boriskin, John Harbison, soprano Marni Nixon, Ned Rorem, and Grant Beglarian in November 1998. Photo by Marion Gold.

As a composer, he wrote band, choral, and chamber music, and his works have been performed by the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and Dallas, Detroit, and Seattle Symphonies. Perhaps his best-known composition was Of Fables, Foibles, and Fancies for cello and narrator. He played key roles as board member, advisor, or consultant at a wide variety of organizations, including the Classical Music Hall of Fame, New England Conservatory, National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts, Armenian Film Foundation, Young Audiences, and Piatigorsky Foundation, and was director for Poland Operations of the Fund for Arts and Culture. In addition, he was a leader of or participant in dozens of national conferences that helped to establish cultural and educational initiatives and policy over the last 40 years.

He is survived by his wife Joyce, and two children, Eve, a composer, and Spencer, an actor. A memorial service will be announced at a later date. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers donations in his memory be sent to Copland House.

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