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Bruce McIntosh

Professor Emeritus
Specialty: Cellist

Headshot of Bruce McIntosh

Contact Information

900 State Street
Salem  Oregon  97301


For me, music is more a way of life than a discipline. I know history through research into the lives and techniques of the composers and those around them. I know math through the study of acoustics and through dealing the complexities of rhythm. I know foreign languages again because research into music, especially in music theory. I know psychology through coming to grips with the late works of Beethoven and the letters between Mozart and his father. I know religion and philosophy through a wide range of pursuits from Rameau's 18th century treatise on music to the 20th century musings of Messiaen & Cage. Of course, I first learned these subjects the normal way, that is in classes, but I came to know them as they revealed themselves in my life in music. If you wish to know more than "just" a scholar or "just" a musician, then Willamette University is the place for you. Here we think that complete people are those who can see the relevance of classroom learning to their life's experiences.

My life's experiences have taken me from Vermont, where I was a student of Ellen Arrigo and George Finckel. They both taught me how to play the cello, but George also introduced me to the life of a musician and expanded my vision of what music could be. My lessons with George started Friday after school and ended Sunday evening. In the breaks, we would read Thoreau and Emerson and ponder the significance of Michaelangelo's David. The weekend of a lesson often included listening to the Estival String Quartet in rehearsal and attending concerts. In short, I found that a life in music was more than working alone with my cello.

From there I went to the Oberlin Conservatory of Music where I studied with John Frazer and George Neikrug. At Oberlin I continued the eclectic interests now firmly rooted in me. Later, at the University of Texas in Austin, my interests were more focused on developing the traditional disciplines of cello playing, but seeds of relevance were always there causing me to question everything, making sure I knew the whys as well as the hows. At Willamette University I try to instill the same kind of restless curiosity in all my students. I resist the student's question of "How?" and try to trick them to ask themselves "Why?". When students finally come to accept that there are no absolute answers to either question, I know that they are prepared for a life in music. For being comfortable with knowing that the answers are in a constant state of flux means that one can be confident with ones own ability to meet all of life's questions.

Professor Emeritus Bruce McIntosh, Cello and Music Theory. M.M. from the University of Texas in Austin; B.A. Oberlin Conservatory; former member of Trio Northwest; studied cello with George Finckel, John Frazer, George Neikrug; additional studies with Nathaniel Rosen in Nova Scotia and John Hsu at Cornell University; studied conducting with Harold Farberman; formerly Artist-in-Residence at Franconia College in New Hampshire, past Principal Cellist of the Portland Opera Orchestra.

Willamette University

Music Department

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-370-6260 FAX