History of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
Rudi E. Scheidt
"It is impossible to capture the magnitude of his impact, breadth of his support, wisdom of his guidance, joy of his enthusiasm & overwhelming strength of his will."
- UofM President Dr. M. David Rudd on Rudi E. Scheidt
School of Music Timeline
2020: Dr. Kevin Sanders Is Named Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
2020: School of Music Benefactors Rudi and Honey Scheidt Pass
At the University of Memphis, few have made an impact on the quality of artistic education quite like Rudi and Honey Scheidt, who elevated the music program in a tremendous way by providing financial resuscitation for the opera program and transforming the then Department of Music into the eponymous Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music with a $3 million gift bestowed in 2000. The Scheidts were never content to simply provide financial support and play a passive role but rather were intimately involved in the lives and efforts of University students, personally attending recitals, auditions and concerts.
The Scheidts and their children (Rudi, Susan, Elkan and Helen) had long desired a proper and more expansive venue for the performing arts at the University of Memphis. This concept germinated 17 years ago when the Scheidts gave the lead gift in an effort to make this a reality. In concert with then University President David Rudd, the site of the current construction on Central Avenue was chosen, and architectural plans were drawn up and finalized.
2021: Music Library Is Named Efrim and Caroline S. Fruchtman Music Library
2023: Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center Opens
The Scheidts and their children had long desired a proper and more expansive venue for the performing arts at the University of Memphis. This concept germinated 17 years ago when the Scheidts gave the lead gift in an effort to make this a reality. In concert with then University President David Rudd, the site of the current construction on Central Avenue was chosen, and architectural plans were drawn up and finalized. Unfortunately, both Rudi and Honey passed away in 2020, and although they would never see the project through to completion, they were confident that their well-laid plans would come to fruition.
On Saturday, February 4, the Scheidt family cut the ribbon and officially opened the Scheidt Family Performing Arts Center with a star-studded gala featuring Dionne Warwick, Al Kapone, The Bar-Kays and University of Memphis student musicians.
2012: The University of Memphis Celebrates 100 Years
2015: John Chiego Is Named Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
2016: School of Music Forms Partnership with Memphis Symphony Orchestra
The Memphis Symphony Orchestra moves to the University of Memphis and forms a trend-setting partnership with the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music. Memphis musicians and the community benefit from the collaboration.
2017: The University of Memphis Breaks Ground on State-of-the-Art Music Facility
The state-of-the-art facility will double the size of the current Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music and feature an expansive performance hall and significant enhancements in technology and acoustics. In addition, dedicated tailored laboratories for innovation and artistic expression will allow faculty to structure the educational experience to best serve students.
2000: Department of Music Becomes Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
In the fall of 2000, the Department of Music became the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music thanks to a multimillion-dollar gift from Rudi E. Scheidt and his wife Honey Hohenberg Scheidt. Rachel Tucker, a doctorate student at the time, said: "The most important thing that Honey and Rudi Scheidt have done for the University of Memphis is to believe in us. From the young artist's standpoint, to have a man like Rudi Scheidt—who knows how to make a good investment—invest in us, not only with his time and his heart, but now with this incredible gift—well, actually, I don't have words for that."
2001: Dr. John Baur Is Named Interim Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
2003: Dr. Pat Hoy Is Named Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music
2008 Artist Diploma Is Established
2008: Dr. Randall Rushing Is Named Interim Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School
Dr. Randall Rushing serves as interim director until he is named Director of the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music in 2011.
2009:The University of Memphis Opera wins first place in the National Opera Association’s Production Competition for the 2008 production of Hänsel and Gretel.
1994: Memphis State University Becomes the University of Memphis
On July 1, 1994 Memphis State University became the University of Memphis
1994: Dr. Glenn Chandler Is Named Chair of the Music Department
1995: Southern Comfort Jazz Ensemble Plays Alongside Toshiko Akiyoshi for Jazz Week
Grammy-nominated artist and composer Toshiko Akiyoshi teaches a piano masterclass and a composition class.
1980: Doctor of Musical Arts Offered
1980: David Williams Is Named Chairman of the Department of Music
1980: Music Industry Program Is Established
The establishment of a Music Industry Program is an exciting development in the field of music education. This program prepares students for careers and opportunities within the music industry, encompassing various sectors such as recording, production, marketing, management and entrepreneurship.
Launching a curriculum that combines practical skills, theoretical knowledge, and real-world experiences, students learn about music business models, copyright and licensing, marketing and promotion strategies and artist management.
1980: Mighty Sound of the South Invited to Gulf Coast Marching Contest
Members include 225 students from across the campus. The Percussion section recorded an album of marching music.
1981 College of Communication and Fine Arts Building Opens
The CCFA Building expands the Communications and Fine Arts Complex allowing the “fastest and growing” college room to expand its programs and services to students.
1981: Mighty Sound of the South Named in the Top 15 Collegiate Marching Bands in the
The Mighty Sound of the South received an invitation to participate in the 1981 Marching Bands of America Intercollegiate Championship in London, England
1981: Memphis State University Hosts Banquet Saluting Memphis Music
In attendance was Rufus Thomas, George Klein, Jerry Lee Lewis, Sam Phillips, Waylon Jennings and Cybil Shepard. The Salute to Memphis Music becomes an annual event.
1982 Music Library Moves to Its current space
1982: Barry Manilow Visits Music Students
Four hundred students attend an “informal rap session” with Barry Manilow. Manilow visited the students so they could talk with a successful performer and get an accurate picture of the music industry. Manilow performed at the Mid-South Coliseum on December 1 of the same year. The University Singers served as backup vocals for his performance.
1982: University Singers Selected to Perform at the Tennessee Music Educators Convention
The highly selected choral ensemble was under the direction of Dr. John Cooksey and featured approximately 65 students. They were also selected to perform again in 1983. In 1984 they were invited to the Music Educators National Conference-Southern Division in Louisville, KY.
1983: Mighty Sound of the South Reaches 240 Members
Under the direction of Dr. Sidney McKay and Arthur Theil, the band performs five different themed half-time shows including “Stars Wars,” “Egyptian” to celebrate the new Egyptian Art Show, and “Gotta Get to Memphis” for the Homecoming game.
1985: The Music Department Becomes a National Leader
As the only institution in Tennessee offering a doctorate in music, the department features 45 full-time faculty members and 25 preparatory division instructors, and over 300 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students.
1987: Dr. John Baur Is Named Chair of the Interim Music Department
1988: Lemuel Berry Is Named Chair of the Music Department
1989: SoundFuzion Jazz Ensemble Is Formed
Dr. Lawrence Edwards was the director of the four men and women who promoted the Music Department program
1972: Memphis State University Statesmen
The MSU Statesmen, under the direction of Dr. Thomas Ferguson, was one of three performing jazz bands at MSU. The group performed extensively and was twice chosen as finalists at the Notre Dame Jazz Festival. The group also attended jazz festivals at Elmhurst, Little Rock and Mobile in addition to local concerts with nationally known performers, such as Marvin Stamm, Urbie Green, Doc Severinsen and Clark Terry
1972: Doctor of Education, Music Education First Offered
1972: Dr. James Gholson Becomes the First African-American Professor at the Rudi E.
Scheidt School of Music
Dr. James Gholson, professor of clarinet, served on the faculty for 40 years retiring in 2012 as a professor emeritus. His career also included performing with the Memphis Woodwind Quintet, as the principal clarinetist with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and soloist in the United States Navy Band stationed in Washington, D.C.
1973 Memphis Orff Institute Is Established
Developed to train teachers working in the Memphis City Schools Orff Program, the Memphis Orff Institute evolves as an internationally renowned center for Orff instruction.
Jos Wuytack was the driving pedagogical force at the Memphis Orff Institute. His adaptation of the Schulwerk approach to contemporary instructional practices and incorporation of techniques for arranging folk, classical, and popular songs were central to the Memphis Orff Institute.
Konnie Saliba is the primary teacher of the Master of Music with a concentration in Orff Schulwerk. In conjunction with Nancy Ferguson, founder of the Orff Music Program, they create the annual All-City Concert.
1977: College of Communication and Fine Arts Is Established
The College of Communication and Fine Arts (CCFA) is established in 1977. Dr. Richard R. Ranta became the founding Dean of the College, which consisted of the departments of Art, Journalism, Music and Speech and Drama.
1977: William Garver Is Named Chairman of the Department of Music
1979: Ground Breaks for New College of Communication and Fine Arts Complex
The College of Communication and Fine Arts receives a $5 million boost to expand the current Fine Arts Complex. The new building includes a commercial music studio with 24-track recording abilities and several practice rooms to aid an expanding music department.
1979: Dr. Caroline Fruchtman Is Named Interim Acting Chairman of the Department of
Dr. Caroline Fruchtman served two years as the Chair of the Department of Music, making her the female to hold this distinction. Dr. Fruchtman joined the faculty of the Department of Music in 1969 as a professor of musicology-music history and harpsichordist and served on the faculty for 22 years.
1979: High Water Recording Company Is Established
High Water Recording Company was formed by the University of Memphis Professor of Ethnomusicology Dr. David Evans and College of Communications and Fine Arts Dean Richard Ranta. Established with a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the first project was to produce and distribute four 45 RPM records of traditional Mississippi blues artists.
“We saw our work as a 1980s continuation of what Sam Phillips started in the ‘50s at Sun Records, so we began numbering our records where he left off. Not only does Dr. Evans’ work preserve the blues, it gives the style visibility…” - Dr. Richard Ranta, Dean, CCFA
1979: First University Distinguished Achievement Award Is Presented to Sam Phillips, Founder of Sun Records
1963: Tiger Band Name Changes to “Mighty Sound of the South”
At the end of the 1962-1963 basketball season, the Tiger team was the only southern team invited to play in the National Invitational Tournament in Madison Square Garden. Thomas C. Ferguson, in only his second year as band director, was a big basketball fan and furnished a pep band for every home game. Nineteen pep band members boarded a bus for New York City. They were determined to make a name for themselves - literally. Using markers and an old bed sheet, they fashioned a makeshift sign with the words "The Mighty Sound of the South" to humorously describe their modestly sized band. The 1963 Mighty Sound of the South featured 110 members, 18 majorettes, and three featured twirlers and drum major Clay Lewis. The Band made a film for the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), which was shown on the British Tonight Show.
1965: Billie Baker Gholson Is the First Black Student to Graduate with a Bachelor
On August 20, 1965 Billie Baker Gholson became the first Black student to graduate with a Bachelor of Music.
1966: Robert Snyder Is Named Chairman of the Department of Music1967: Fine Arts Complex
The Music and Speech and Drama departments move into the Fine Arts Complex. The new facilities provide students with more space and resources to enhance their programs and performances, boasting two adjoining buildings, three theater spaces and an outdoor concert venue.The Choral organization consists of five groups of 240 students under the direction of Dr. Walter Wade. This year’s activities include television and radio appearances, open-air concerts, and a spring tour to St. Louis, MO.This new space also inspires the creation of the Music Club and aims to further cultural art on campus. They attend the Tennessee Music Education Association conference featuring the National MEA Band.1969 Department of Music Receives National Association of Schools of Music Accreditation
1969: The “Memphis Statesmen” Ensemble Is Formed
Consisting of 20 musicians under the direction of Thomas C. Ferguson. The band makes annual nation-wide appearances at numerous festivals. It is well-assisted by the “B” band, led by “Buddy” Skipper. Featuring 175 members, the MSS becomes known for its halftime performances that approach “perfection.” During the off-season, the band splits into two separate units, the Concert Band, under the direction of James Richen, and the Wind Ensemble, under the direction of Ferguson.
1953 Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Applied Music Degree is Offered
The Bachelor of Arts with a major in applied music allowed students to pursue their interests and gain a well-rounded education in the study and practice of music. Instruments supported in the B.A. were piano, voice, violin, viola, organ, harp, flute, oboe and cello. Additional concentration fields included classes in Music History and Literature, Music Theory, Applied Music and Church Music.
1953: Memphis State College Band is directed by Ralph G. Hale
1953: Music Education Orchestra is Founded to Train Future Music Educators
Under the direction of Noel A. Gilbert, the Music Education Orchestra provides future music teachers an opportunity to familiarize themselves with orchestral music education and instruments. Training for string instruments is emphasized because of a decline in high school orchestras. By providing students with training on various instruments, the Music Education Orchestra prepares students for the challenges and opportunities they will face as music educators.
1956: Memphis State College Band is Nicknamed “Pride of the Deep South”
1957: Memphis State Becomes Memphis State University after State Legislature Promotes the College with Full University Status
1959: Memphis State University Integrates
Bertha Rogers, Rosa Blakney, John Simpson, Luther McClellan, Ralph Prater, Eleanor Gandy, Marvis Kneeland, and Sammie Burnett integrated Memphis State University on September 18, 1959. Facing racism and restrictions, the “Memphis State Eight” were pioneers who paved the way for other African American students to enroll at MSU.
“At the time, I thought, this is something that would be forgotten. I never thought in the years to come, we would open the doors for so many people. I am proud of those who come through here and done so well.” - Bertha Rogers Looney.
1940: “Tiger Band” is Organized under the Directorship of Paul Boensch and L.C. Austin
Under the baton-twirling par excellence of Shirley Sigler and Utiey Spencer, the Tiger Band is featured at games with other Southern schools like the University of Mississippi and parades. Honored sponsorettes for this season were Maureen Scott and Theresa Sharp of Xi Beta Nu sorority.
1941: Name Changes to Memphis State College
1947 Memphis State Band Membership Increases
Director of Bands and Choirs Paul Earheart, a Memphis State College alumnus BS ‘37
1947: College Choir Performs with Memphis Symphony Orchestra
Mendelssohn's "Hymn of Praise" side-by-side performance by the College Choir and Memphis State Band and members from the Memphis Symphony Orchestra was a major musical event that provided students with valuable experience working with professional musicians.
1947: Cleff Club Chartered at Memphis State College
Cleff Club is designed to promote interest and appreciation of instrumental music and allow students to engage with this type of music beyond their coursework and ensemble performances. Participation in the college band or orchestra fulfills the requirements for membership.
1948: George Harris Named Head of the Department of Music
1949 First Opera Performance
The first opera performance, Mascagni's "Cavalleria Rusticana," was a significant moment for the music program at Memphis State College, helping to raise the school's profile within the wider community and establish its reputation as a center of musical excellence.
1949: Gaston Taylor Named Director of the Memphis State College Band
This active year includes local high school visits, half-time performances, participation in the Armistice Day parade, Fire Prevention parade, City Beautiful parade, Humboldt Strawberry Festival, Memphis Cotton Carnival, and entertainment for the West Tennessee High School Band and Chorus Clinic. The first mention of Band Day was observed in connection with Homecoming Day as an annual feature in which high school bands are invited to participate. The 50-member band announces expansion to a 75-member band.
1938: The Arabesque Club
The Arabesque Club is organized to promote a fraternal feeling among the music students and to further the playing and hearing of better music.
1925: Name changes to West Tennessee State Teachers College
“Beginning with the school year, 1925-6, The West Tennessee State Normal School will be known as the West Tennessee State Teachers College. The General Assembly, at its recent session, authorized the maintenance of a State Teachers College in each of the Grand Divisions of the State, and the State Board of Education has taken the necessary action to convert the Normal School into a Teachers College.” - West Tennessee State Teachers College 1925 Bulletin
“It is a professional school designed to prepare teachers, and in the enlarged work it will continue to train not only teachers for elementary schools but principals, supervisors and teachers qualified to do first class high school work.”- West Tennessee State Teachers College 1925 Bulletin
“It is believed that the new course of instruction and the enlarged facilities at the West Tennessee State Teachers College will be of interest to both high school graduates and teachers of this section and that an in-creasing number of them will avail themselves of the opportunity to get a college education near home at moderate cost.” - West Tennessee State Teachers College 1925 Bulletin
1929: West Tennessee State Teachers College Orchestra page
1912: West Tennessee State Normal School is Founded on September 10
The landmark General Education Bill of 1909 creates the West Tennessee State Normal School with the primary goal of educating and training teachers for the public schools of Tennessee.
1912: Vocal Music is Offered as a Specialized Area in the Teacher Training School
Arthur Wallerstein's appointment as the first faculty member of the West Tennessee State Normal School's music program was a significant milestone in developing the school's music department. His expertise and experience in music education help lay the foundation for the department's future growth and success.
Introducing music as a Junior and Senior year elective allows students to explore their musical interests and develop their skills in a more structured and formal setting, preparing them for future service in classrooms.
1913: The Department of Music is Established at West Tennessee State Normal School
The formation of the Department of Music and the introduction of its courses in elementary music, theory of music, intermediate and advanced music education courses, as well as orchestral classes represents a significant step forward in the development of music education at the West Tennessee State Normal School
Establishing the “Normal School Chorus,” the first school ensemble, is an important development in the growth of the school's music program. This allows students to develop their skills as singers and performers and participate in public performances.
The introduction of the Public School Music course during the 1913 Summer School further expanded its music curriculum, providing students with the knowledge and skills they need to teach music in public schools.
1915: First Piano Instructor Added to Faculty
The addition of Jennie DeShazo to the West Tennessee State Normal School's music program's faculty was significant to the growth and development of the department. As a graduate of Northwestern University's prestigious School of Music, DeShazo brings with her a wealth of knowledge and expertise that helps to further enhance the quality of the school's music education program.
With DeShazo on board, the music department expands its course offerings. It gives students an even broader range of opportunities to explore their musical interests and develop their skills as educators and performers.
1916: L. C. AUSTIN is Named Director of Music and Expands Certificate Offerings and
Offering certificates and diploma courses in various music-related fields allows students to specialize and gain expertise in their areas of interest. These areas include Public School Music, Piano, Violin, Voice, Brass and Woodwind Instruments, Theory, Harmony, Counterpoint and Musical History.
West Tennessee State Normal School Orchestra and the Normal School Band are listed as ensembles playing around campus at sporting events and chapel services. This is in addition to the Men’s Glee Club and the Women’s Glee Club, whose memberships form the Normal Chorus.
1917: First Music Certificate Course Completions are Awarded by the Music Department
The graduation of Ailene Derryberry, Gertrude Erwin, Lucile Follis, Mertise Grace Norris and Gladys Robertson from the Music Department of the West Tennessee State Normal School is a significant milestone in the history of the school's music program. These students are the first to complete the program and earn their degrees in music.
Their graduation marks a major achievement for the music department, demonstrating that the program provides students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue careers in music education.
The success of these early graduates builds the foundation for the growth and development of the music department over the years, helping it to become one of the leading music programs in the region.
1917: The Normal School Band Gets Uniforms and the Normal Chorus Performs Maude Elizabeth
Inch’s “Sylvia” Operetta