Stiven, Frederic B. (Frederic Benjamin) (1882-1947) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Stiven, Frederic B. (Frederic Benjamin) (1882-1947)

Historical Note:

Frederic Benjamin Stiven (1882-1947) was born in Ionia, Michigan on July 17, 1882. He graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1907 where he studied organ. From 1907 to 1909 he was employed as an instructor of organ at Oberlin University. In 1908, he married Alice Beckweth, the two would have five children. In 1910, he traveled to Paris to study organ and orchestration at the Paris Conservatory. While on tour in Paris, he studied briefly with Alexandre Guilmant and Charles-Marie Widor, both 19th century French organists and composers. After Guilmant's death in 1911, Stivens returned to the United States where he became a member of the American Guild of Organists and published several articles on European organs. Between 1912 and 1920 he continued to teach organ performance at the Oberlin Conservatory.

In 1921, Stivens became the director of the School of Music at the University of Illinois. Stivens was preceeded in this position by John Lawrence Erb (1914-1921) and followed by John Kuypers (1947-1950). During his first year as director, the School of Music opened Smith Music hall on campus. In addition to his role as director, Stivens taught senior organ students, played weekly vesper organ recitals alongside Russel Hancock Miles, taught a course in music theory, and conducted the University Choral Society. In 1924 he wrote his first book, The Organ Lofts of Paris. In 1936, he served as the U.S. representative to the International Music Congress in Prague. The following year, he received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Chicago Music College. In 1944, he was appointed a member of the graduate commission of the National Association of Schools of Music. As the Director of the School of Music, Stiven also served as the President of the Music Teachers' National Association, the Vice-President of the National Association of Schools of Music, and the President of Pi Kappa Lamba. He was also named an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha and Alpha Sigma Phi. After suffering a chronic illness, Stiven died in Urbana, Illinois on January 21, 1947.


New York Herald Tribune, "Prof. Frederic B. Stiven, Director of the School of Music at University of Illinois, January 22, 1947, p. 22B.

Daily Illini, "F.B. Stiven Succumbs After Long Illness, Music School Leader Dies at 64 After Return to Local Hospital," January 22, 1947, p. 1.

Ann Silverberg, A Sympathy with Sounds, A brief history of the University of Illinois School of Music to Celebrate its Centennial, (Urbana: University of Illinois, School of Music, 1995): 29-35, 52-53.

Note Author: Nolan Vallier

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