Flummerfelt, Joseph (1937-2019) | University of Illinois Archives
Joseph Flummerfelt (1937-2019) was born in Vincennes, Indiana on February 23rd, 1937. He was born to John Ross Flummerfelt, a funeral director, and Mavorette Flummerfelt, a piano teacher. Early on in his life, Flummerfelt listened to his mother play organ at the Family Baptist Church and learned to pick up hymns by ear as the start to his music career. His first dream to conduct came when his family brought home a record player with a free copy of Handel's "Messiah." Flummerfelt graduated from DePauw University in 1958 where he received a Bachelor of Music and studied organ and church music. Flummerfelt also received his master's degree in Choral Conducting from the Philadelphia Conservatory of Music in 1962. He went on to become the Instructor of Choral Music at the University of Illinois from 1963-1964. After his departure from Illinois, he became the Director of Choral Activities at DePauw University until 1968. Eventually, he returned to Illinois to receive a Doctorate of Musical Arts in 1971. He served a multitude more of roles, including the Maestro del Coro for the Festival Dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, Italy from 1971-1993 and the Director of Choral Activites at the Spoleto Festival in South Carolina from 1977-2013. He also was the artistic director and principal conductor at Westminster Choir College at Rider University. He held the role at Rider University for 33 years until his retirement in 2007.
In addition to his notable work as a director of multiple choir and music programs, Flummerfelt was an exceptional conductor with multiple noteworthy pieces. Flummerfelt made his conducting debut in 1988 with the New York Philharmonic by conducting Haydn's "Creation," and made subsequent appearances as a guest conductor with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the Juilliard Symphony Orchestra, the Honolulu Symphony, and many more. Notable pieces that Flummerfelt has conducted include Britten's "War Requiem," Brahms' "Ein Deutsches Requiem," and "Delos," and have been recipients of numerous awards such as Grammy Awards and honors from the New York Times. In addition, Flummerfelt was given numerous honors such as Le Prix du President de la Republique from L'Acadamie du Disque Francais, and multiple honorary degrees. He passed away on March 1, 2019 from a stroke in his home near Indianapolis.