Bennett Reimer, 81, the John W. Beattie Professor of Music emeritus at Northwestern University, died on November 18.

Born on June 19, 1932, in New York City, music education specialist Reimer began his musical career as a clarinetist and oboist. He received his bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York College at Fredonia in 1954 and pursued graduate study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned his master’s in 1955 and his EdD in 1963 in addition to teaching from 1960 to 1965.

From 1965 to 1978 he served on the faculty of Case Western Reserve University, where he held the Kulas Endowed Chair in Music. Reimer joined the Northwestern faculty in 1978, holding the John W. Beattie Endowed Chair in Music and serving as director of the PhD program in music education and the Center for the Study of Education and the Musical Experience, a research group of PhD students and faculty which he founded in 1985. He retired in 1997.

Reimer’s book, A Philosophy of Music Education, first published in 1970 and issued in a revised edition in 1989 (Prentice Hall), has been translated into French, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Greek. Author and editor of a dozen other books, he wrote more than 100 articles and book chapters on a variety of topics in music and arts education. His music textbooks for grades one through eight were among the most widely used throughout the United States and the world for two decades.

Reimer served on the editorial boards of all the major music education journals; as national chair of the Music Educators National Conference Committee on Aesthetic Education; as MENC liaison for arts education initiatives; as MENC’s representative to the Alliance for Curriculum Reform and to the Aesthetic Education Curriculum Program, sponsored by the U.S. Office of Education; and as a member of the six-person task force that wrote the National Standards for Music Education.

Director of a three-year general music curriculum research project sponsored by the U.S. Office of Education, he served for five years on the Rockefeller Brothers Fund Awards Committee for Exemplary School Arts Programs and for six years as codirector and principal consultant for the teacher education project Education for Aesthetic Awareness: The Cleveland Area Project for the Arts in the Schools. In 1986 he spent three months as a research exchange scholar in China studying music education practices from kindergarten through the conservatory level.

Reimer was the recipient of several professional honors: an honorary doctorate from DePaul University, the Distinguished Service Award from the State University of New York at Fredonia, the Senior Researcher Award from the U.S. National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the Legends of Teaching Award from Northwestern University, the President's Award from the Illinois State Music Education Association, a Special Issue of the Journal of Aesthetic Education "Musings: Essays in Honor of Bennett Reimer" (1999), and induction into the NAfME Hall of Fame.


  • emeriti
  • music education
  • obit