Scope and Contents
This collection consists of materials used and created by Michael Hammond following his interests in acoustics; music perception; neuroscience and music; and two musicians, Irving Schwerke (who taught Hammond) and Josquin Desprez (the subject of a course Hammond taught). It includes the keynote address he gave at the 1999 International Symposium on the Neuroscience of Music in Nigata, Japan.
Conditions Governing Use
Permission to publish material from the Michael Hammond Academic Papers, 1980s-1990s must be facilitated through the Woodson Research Center, Fondren Library.
Biographical / Historical
Michael Peter Hammond was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on June 13, 1932. As an undergraduate at Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin) he majored in classics and philosophy. Selected as a Rhodes Scholar in 1956, he read philosophy, psychology, and physiology for his Bachelor of Arts degree at Oxford. He remained at Oxford for two additional years, doing pre-clinical medical studies. On returning to the U.S., he spent a year on the Menominee Indian reservation in Wisconsin, where he learned the native language and wrote an unpublished novel about the clash of indigenous and Western cultures. He then took up employment as research assistant and lecturer in neuroanatomy in two different Wisconsin medical schools and subsequently as instructor in physiology and anatomy at the University of Wisconsin. Hammond’s early interest in neuroscience remained an area of study throughout his life. This fact is especially pertinent to this collection, since it includes some of the material Hammond read, pursuing this interest.
After his years at Oxford, Hammond had taken a year to study philosophy and music at Delhi University in India. In 1964, he changed his career focus from science to music. He later said, “If I had to stop music, something would have died in me that I couldn’t let die.” [Houston Chronicle, Dec. 22, 2001]
Hammond became, successively, Instructor in Music Theory at the University of Wisconsin, Director of Composition and Theory at the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (1966-68), and then Professor of Music at the State University of New York at Purchase. He then became Dean of Music, and in 1977, President of the University at Purchase.
In 1986 Hammond was named Professor of Music and Dean of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Having arrived at Rice with the charge of seeing a new music building constructed, he wrote the architectural program for the building, which was opened in 1991. In addition to developing a reputation for inspiring leadership, talent, and vision as Dean, he also founded the preparatory program for young musicians based on his strong belief in the importance of arts for young children. Hammond attracted outstanding musician teachers and brought the Shepherd School to national prominence. In 1998 the Rice Alumni Association awarded him its Gold Medal for meritorious service to the University. He had been awarded an honorary doctorate in 1975 by his alma mater, Lawrence University.
On September 18, 2001, President George H. W. Bush appointed Hammond to be the eighth chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts. The process of his confirmation was swift, but barely a week after assuming his new position in January 2002, Hammond died in Washington, D.C. Though he had been in good health when he went to Washington, over twelve years previously he had fought cancer—of the pancreas, the liver, the femur, and the eye. His success in surviving these episodes had led him to be called upon by patients throughout the country for advice, which he willingly gave.