Ogasapian, John 1940-2005 (John K. Ogasapian, John Ken Ogasapian)

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Ogasapian, John 1940-2005 (John K. Ogasapian, John Ken Ogasapian)


Born October 1, 1940, in Worcester, MA; died July 11, 2005; son of Karekin and Marion V. Ogasapian; married Nancy Elaine Hill, July 2, 1967; children: Lisa Anne. Education: Boston University, B.Mus, 1962, M.Mus., 1964; Ph.D., 1977.


Writer, educator, musicologist, organist, and music historian. Lowell State College, Lowell, MA, instructor, 1965-69, assistant professor, 1969-76; University of Massachusetts, Lowell, associate professor, 1976-79, professor of music history, 1979-2005. St. Anne's Episcopal Church, Lowell, organist and choirmaster, 1961-99; All Saints Episcopal Church, Worcester, MA, organist and choirmaster, 2002-03.


American Musicological Society, Organ History Society (served as chair of research committee, 1979-82 and 1985-94), Society for American Music, Society for Ethnomusicology, British Institute of Organ Research, Guild of Organists.


Distinguished Service Award, Organ History Society, 1994.


Organ Building in New York City, 1700-1900, Organ Literature Foundation (Braintree, MA), 1977.

Henry Erben: Portrait of a Nineteenth-Century American Organ Builder, Organ Literature Foundation (Braintree, MA), 1980.

Church Organs: A Guide to Selection and Purchase, Baker Book House (Grand Rapids, MI), 1983.

English Cathedral Music in New York: Edward Hodges of Trinity Church, Organ Historical Society (Richmond, VA), 1994.

The Varieties of Musicology: Essays in Honor of Murray Lefkowitz, Harmonie Park Press (Warren, MI), 2000.

Music of the Colonial and Revolutionary Era, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2004.

Litterae Organi: Essays in Honor of Barbara Owen, OHS Press (Richmond, VA), 2005.

Church Music in America, 1620-2000, Mercer University Press (Macon, GA), 2007.

(With N. Lee Orr) Music of the Gilded Age, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 2007.

Contributor to books, including the Encyclopedia of Protestantism; American National Biography; and New Grove Dictionary of Music. Contributor to periodicals and journals. Tracker (journal of the Organ Historical Society), editor, 1991-99.


Musicologist John Ogasapian was an author, music historian, professional organist, and educator. He served as a professor of music at the University of Massachusetts and enjoyed a music education career that spanned more than forty years. He was an expert on organ music and organs, and frequently wrote on the history of organs and related topics, ranging from the building of organs in the nineteenth century to modern urban church music. In reflecting on his career as a musician and educator in a speech transcribed on the University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Web site, Ogasapian remarked: "It's been wonderful, and I know for certain that if I could begin again, I would in a heartbeat, and I wouldn't change a thing. Lucky man, to be able to say such a thing about a life and career and mean it."

Church Music in America, 1620-2000 contains a detailed survey of almost 400 years of church music, designed and presented for a general, nonspecialist audience. Ogasapian looks at the music created by a diverse number of religious groups and tracks the development of their music from their arrival in America to modern times. He considers how these different religious institutions influenced each other through their music, and how the members of the groups themselves reacted to the music of their peers. Ogasapian carefully discusses the various groups in his purview, but makes a distinction between the church music under examination and the broader category of sacred music. With a greater focus on the music and religious groups of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Ogasapian covers topics such as black spirituals, white gospel hymns, psalmody, and other genres that affected the creation, performance, and appreciation of church music. A California Bookwatch reviewer called the book a "fine ‘foundation pick’" for libraries and collections with strong church history and culture sections. He provides material of interest to general readers as well as "professional church musicians, pastors and seminarians, and students," noted a reviewer in Reference & Research Book News.

Music of the Gilded Age, written with N. Lee Orr, covers the music that originated in America during the last two decades of the nineteenth century, known as the Gilded Age for its abundant economic prosperity and expansion. Ogasapian and Orr examine the basic structure of the music of the period, and provide commentary on its "social, economic, political, technological, and religious influences," noted a reviewer in Reference & Research Book News. The authors cover both classical and popular music of the day, and provide information on popular songs, opera, church music, orchestras, and concerts. They include biographical material on important contemporary composers, critics, entrepreneurs, and noted amateur musicians, plus details on notable conservatories and educational institutions.

Ogasapian died on July 11, 2005.



California Bookwatch, July, 2007, review of Church Music in America, 1620-2000.

Reference & Research Book News, May, 2005, John Ogasapian, review of Music of the Colonial and Revolutionary Era, p. 236; August, 2007, reviews of Church Music in America, 1620-2000 and Music of the Gilded Age.


Mercer University Press Web site,http://www.mupress.org/ (February 4, 2008), biography of John Ogasapian.

University of Massachusetts, Lowell, Web site,http://www.uml.edu/ (February 4, 2008), "If This Were the Last Lecture I Would Give, What Would I Say?," transcript of lecture by John Ogasapian.