Forbes, Elliot 1917–2006

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Forbes, Elliot 1917–2006

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 30, 1917, in Cambridge, MA; died January 10, 2006, in Cambridge, MA. Educator and author. Particularly noted as a scholar of Ludwig von Beethoven, Forbes was Fanny Peabody Professor of Music emeritus at Harvard University. After studying music at the Milton Academy for four years, he attended Harvard, completing a B.A. in 1941 and an M.A. in 1947. Between degrees, he taught music at schools in California and Massachusetts. From 1947 to 1958, Forbes was on the faculty at Princeton University, where he rose to the post of associate professor of music. He then returned to Harvard to become a professor of music and, in 1961, Fanny Pea-body Professor of Music. In addition to teaching, during the 1960s he was the conductor for the Harvard Glee Club and the Radcliffe Choral Society, a noteworthy accomplishment given that he was physically hampered as the result of suffering from polio. Though he loved many forms of music, including blues and jazz, Forbes became most noted for his Beethoven scholarship, particularly after revising, editing, and updating the nineteenth-century biography of Beethoven written by Alexander Wheelock Thayer. The result, Life of Beethoven (1964; revised edition, 1967) is a two-volume work of scholarship that has been widely praised by academics. Forbes also wrote or edited a number of other music books, including The Choral Music of Beethoven (1969) and A History of Music at Harvard to 1972 (1972; reprinted, 1988). Retiring in 1984, Forbes continued his association with Harvard for many years as a professor emeritus, including as editor of A Report of Music at Harvard until 1990.

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New York Times, January 14, 2006, p. B14.