Donald Sanders Retires, More Writing to Come
Music professor Don Sanders, a pianist and coordinator of keyboard studies in the School of the Arts, wraps up 43 years at Samford this spring. Among the highlights of his career were teaching four Jan Term courses in Italy beginning in 2004. The travels helped inspire his book, Music at the Gonzaga Court in Mantua, about the city’s significance in the history of both vocal and instrumental music.
“I had been to Mantua twice and knew the high points of its musical tradition,” he said. “But on the 2004 trip with students I began to realize that the city had been more important artistically than I had believed. I knew I wanted to explore that and was lucky that no one had chosen to cover the entire era in English.”
The Mantua book, which described the city as a vibrant center for visual art, theater and music during the 15th through 17th centuries, appeared in 2012. Reviewer Linda Cummins, a musicologist, called it “a fascinating account of the city’s musical life during the glory years.”
Sanders, while his major emphasis was on teaching and performing music, also wrote books on composers Giuseppe Verdi and Robert Schumann. He hopes to continue his writing during retirement. He also hopes to do volunteer work, “especially in the area of literacy.”
Sanders said “having the privilege of performing with my colleagues, learning and being inspired by them,” also highlighted his tenure. “This is especially true of (violist) Angie and (violinist) Jeff Flaniken,” with whom he teamed for more than 20 years to present chamber music recitals.
What changes has he seen in his field?
“One very significant change has been the enormous impact of technology that has affected musical composition, performance, teaching and scholarship,” he said. “One example is the accessibility of primary sources such as manuscripts and first editions via the internet.”
Editor’s note: This story originally was written for inclusion in the summer 2017 issue of Seasons magazine.