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   from the issue of November 10, 2005

Olson Seminar examines Kimball and the alumni organ

"Music at the Trans-Mississippi Exposition, Omaha, 1898: The Career of Willard Kimball and the UNL Alumni Organ" will be the subject of the next Paul A. Olson Seminar in Great Plains Studies at UNL.

The topic will be discussed from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Great Plains Art Museum, by Peter M. Lefferts, chair of the Division of History, Theory and Composition in the UNL School of Music. Lefferts will describe how, in planning the 1898 Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition in Omaha, event managers wrestled among themselves in public and private over the kind of music program the exposition would offer, and who would administer it.

Lefferts will relate how in the end the group of Omaha businessmen turned to an outsider, the musician and entrepreneur Willard Kimball, to be director of the exposition's Bureau of Music. They agreed to underwrite Kimball's plan, an ambitious musical program of national scope and significance meant to rival or surpass what had been done at the great Chicago World's Fair of 1893. But their nerve failed, and Kimball was fired less than six weeks into the fair.

Salvaging his dignity and his salary, Kimball brought the exposition's pipe organ home to Lincoln and the University of Nebraska, where it served the university community for many subsequent decades.

Kimball (1854-1939) was the founder of what became the UNL School of Music and its first director (1894-1909). He started the school as a private institution, but worked successfully toward its purchase and annexation by the university.

Lefferts' lecture and a 3 p.m. reception in the museum are free and open to the public.



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