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SUNY Potsdam Community Mourns Passing of Crane Professor Emeritus Arthur Frackenpohl

June 17, 2019

Art Frackenpohl, Renowned Composer & Professor Emeritus at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music, Passes Away

SUNY Potsdam is saddened to share the loss of American composer and Professor Emeritus Dr. Arthur Frackenpohl, a longtime faculty member at The Crane School of Music. He passed away on Saturday, June 8, at his retirement home in Pittsford, N.Y., at the age of 95.

Originally from Irvington, N.J., Frackenpohl earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music, and studied composition at Tanglewood with Darius Milhaud in 1948, and then with Nadia Boulanger at Fontainebleau in 1950, receiving the first prize in composition while in France.

Frackenpohl joined the Crane faculty in 1949 as an instructor of music and coordinator of keyboard courses. He completed his doctorate at McGill University in Montreal in 1957. Two years later, he earned a Ford Foundation grant to serve as composer-in-residence for the public school system of Hempstead, N.Y. Frackenpohl was named a full professor in 1961, and continued to teach composition, theory and class piano at Crane until his retirement in 1985. During his tenure, he completed a total of five research fellowships, and was the recipient of numerous awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Frackenpohl first published his textbook, “Harmonization at the Piano,” in 1962. Now in its sixth edition, the book has been used in college-level keyboard classes across the country. An internationally known composer and arranger, Frackenpohl has more than 400 works to his credit. He is particularly known for his compositions for band and orchestra, popular with school ensembles. Frackenpohl also composed for voice and for keyboard, including several song cycles, a cantata and a chamber opera. He wrote and arranged a wide variety of works for chamber ensembles, especially brass and wind groups. Frackenpohl completed noteworthy arrangements for the New York Philharmonic and for Canadian Brass.

A longtime and dedicated supporter of Crane and of the College, Frackenpohl stayed involved after retirement and was an active member of the emeriti community for many years. He was also a longtime member of Potsdam’s First Presbyterian Church, where he served as the organist and choir director for a number of years, and was also a deacon. Along with his family, he established the Frackenpohl Honors Brass Quintet, and a fund to support ensemble travel at Crane. He also chose to house his personal archives at the College.

He is survived by his wife, Crane alumna Mary Ellen Frackenpohl ’54, and their sons, James, Steven, David and Thomas, along with four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

A memorial service to be held in Potsdam is planned for Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m., at First Presbyterian Church. In addition, Crane hopes to hold a musical celebration of Dr. Frackenpohl’s career, and will update campus on that event as it is confirmed.

About The Crane School of Music:

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York’s only All-Steinway institution. For more information, please visit

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Alexandra Jacobs Wilke 315-267-2918

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