Don Gillespie, 1936-2019

(Photo by Sabine Matthes, used with her permission.)
The Edition Peters Group was saddened to learn of the passing of our colleague, Don C. Gillespie, on October 24, 2019. Don started at Peters in 1970 and worked full-time for the firm until 2001, after which he continued to serve as a consultant for several years.

He had a deep understanding and love of music, and his editorial skills contributed to countless Peters publications throughout the years. He worked closely with a veritable who’s who of 20th-century American composers, including William Albright, David Amram, Milton Babbitt, John Cage, Chou Wen-chung, George Crumb, William Duckworth, Morton Feldman, Lou Harrison, Alan Hovhaness, Roger Reynolds, Christian Wolff, Charles Wuorinen, and many others. He was stylistically open-minded about what music the company should publish and worked tirelessly to promote all of Peters’ composers and their works.

''You would see him everywhere,'' remarked Duckworth, on the occasion of Don’s retirement. ''He went to all the concerts. And so no matter what you went to, there was Don, both as a representative of Peters and as somebody who loved the music.''

Don Gillespie was born on August 25, 1936 in Candler County, Georgia. He first acquired his lifelong proficiency at the piano as a child prodigy in Metter, Georgia, and as a teen, he won first place in a tap dancing competition. He graduated valedictorian and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Georgia and traveled to Vienna on a Fulbright Scholarship to study music with Hans Graf. He received his doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he wrote his dissertation on the American modernist composer John J. Becker. He would go on to write widely for journals such as Musical America, The Musical Quarterly, Musik Texte and Notes, and his book, The Search for Thomas F. Ward, Teacher of Frederick Delius, was published by the University Press of Florida. He was a fan of Spike Jones and the City Slickers and of the rock group The Band, especially their farewell film, The Last Waltz.

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