Retired professor Wayne C. Wentzel donates money for new lecture series

While the Butler University ArtsFest geared up this year, with ensembles from across the city preparing for performances, a new lecture series crept onto campus under the radar.

The Wayne C. Wentzel Lecture Series will bring one professional musicologist to campus each year to discuss his or her work in the field and to dialogue with select music students in the Jordan College of the Arts.

Wentzel served as a professor in the college for many years, teaching music appreciation and music history classes. He retired about seven years ago but is still very involved in Butler music events.

Wentzel said he hopes his lecture series will do two basic things.

One goal is to contribute to the field of musicology.

“To be able to invite someone in to give a paper, and to pay them for it, will encourage scholars in the field because when musicologists give papers at conferences they never get paid for it,” he said. “In fact, they almost always have to spend a lot of money to get there and have hotels.”

Wentzel said the lecturers in the series will be prominent musicologists or music theorists, not graduate students, and will be presenting scholarly papers, not speaking informally.

His second hope for the program is to inform music students about musicology and what it is like to be a musicologist.

“Most music students at our college in general have little idea of what musicologists do, what kind of scholarly approaches they have for subject matter,” he said. “I think it’s important for them to understand what the profession is all about.”

Wentzel said the musicologists invited to campus will also take part in informal sessions with students, in addition to presenting their papers.

The plans for this lecture series were made over the past six months after Spanish professor Linda Willem suggested that Wentzel consider starting a series for musicology like those in the sciences.

Though Wentzel did not give an exact figure for the amount of money he  donated to get the series off the ground, he said he donated enough to cover the cost of the lecture for the first five years.

He said he plans on making further contributions over those years to allow the lecture series to become self-sustaining. After the first five years, he explained, the costs of the lecture will be covered by the interest from his donation.

“The whole lecture series should then outlive me,” he said.

The first lecturer in the series will be J. Peter Burkholder, who will discuss the revolutionary composers Igor Stravinsky and Arnold Schoenberg Saturday at 6 p.m. in the Schrott Center. Admission is free. Burkholder is chair of the musicology department at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music.

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