Emeritus Professor, Music History
Art and Music Histories
Prof. Frank Macomber, professor emeritus of the Department of Art & Music Histories, passed away peacefully at the age of 93 in his home in Syracuse in the early morning hours of 14 July 2023. Born in 1931 and reared in Iowa, Prof. Frank Macomber enrolled in Syracuse University’s Music School in the late 1950s to study under the renowned organist, Arthur Poister. He subsequently received a Master of Music degree in 1956. Furthermore, in 1968 he earned a doctorate degree in the humanities from our institution. In 1959, William Fleming, the founder of the Department of Fine Arts (the original name of the department) recruited him to join its growing faculty. Fleming and Macomber would enjoy decades of friendship and collaboration. Macomber played a significant role in editing and revising later editions of Fleming’s best-selling textbook, Arts and Ideas. In 1990, the tandem would publish Musical Arts and Styles. Macomber himself also contributed articles to the Syracuse University Library’s journal, The Currier. All the while, Macomber taught courses for the Department of Fine Arts and, in fact, developed a highly successful music survey course with accompanying pre-internet computer technology, called Understanding Music. Macomber also spent several semesters abroad at the Syracuse University’s London Centre. While there for the Fall 1988 term, he had the tragic task that December of fielding calls from frantic parents following the deadly bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 with 35 of our students aboard.
On a happier note, Macomber was active in local cultural life in Syracuse. For several years, he served as Treasurer for the Society for New Music and frequently played the organ and directed choirs at local churches. Those who knew him will remember him as a cheerful bon vivant who seemed to have astonishing familiarity with seemingly every restauranteur in the greater Syracuse area.