Morris Beachy

In memoriam

Morris Beachy

The man who brought together more voices in Austin than anyone else has sung his last song. Morris Beachy, who founded nine choral ensembles here over a 40-year span, died in his sleep Sunday, Feb. 6, from complications due to Alzheimer's disease. He was 82. A gifted singer himself – his baritone enriched many a recital, concert, and opera over the years – Beachy arrived in Austin in 1957 after having earned the first doctorate in voice from the University of Southern California. From the moment he hit the University of Texas campus, he began building the choral program in the Department of Music (now the Butler School of Music) into one of the country's largest. We can thank him for the Longhorn Singers, A Cappella Choir, University Chorus, and UT Chamber Singers, which he once took on a 90-concert tour across the Middle East and Europe. But Beachy didn't confine himself to the Forty Acres. Off campus, he founded the Austin Choral Union (1964-1998), Austin Choral Artists (1998-2002), and the Morris Beachy Singers, which toured the U.S. and Europe; he prepared major choral works with the Austin Symphony Orchestra from 1958 through 1994; and he served as chorus master for Austin Lyric Opera in its first six seasons.

A perfectionist on the podium, Beachy would spend hours working and reworking a small section of music until he was satisfied with the sound. But that rigor, toughness, and drive endeared him to many singers. Morton H. Meyerson was one; he considered singing under Beachy one of his greatest experiences at UT, and he repaid his mentor years later by establishing the Marlene and Morton Meyerson Centennial Professorship in Music. Beachy held that post until his retirement from UT in 1993. Ten years later, while still actively making music in the community, Beachy was inducted into the second class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame.

Beachy is survived by Frances Beachy, his wife of 60 years; daughters Sylvia Beachy and Diana Rutledge; and grandson Spencer Rutledge. A memorial service at the Butler School of Music is planned for spring. Memorial gifts may be sent to: University of Texas at Austin, Butler School of Music: Dr. Morris J. Beachy Choral Fellowship, 1 University Station E3100, Austin, TX 78712-0435.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Morris Beachy
Arts Stalwarts
Arts Stalwarts
The 2003 class of the Austin Arts Hall of Fame

Robert Faires, May 30, 2003

More by Robert Faires
What to See When You Aren't Catching Moontower Comedy's Big Shows
What to See When You Aren't Catching Moontower Comedy's Big Shows

April 19, 2019

Seeing the Fusebox Festival Without Reservations
Seeing the Fusebox Festival Without Reservations
Tickets to some shows have been snapped up, but there's still plenty of electric Fusebox action available

April 12, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Morris Beachy, Longhorn Singers, University Chorus, UT Chamber Singers, Austin Choral Union, Austin Choral Artists, Morris Beachy Singers, Austin Symphony, Austin Lyric Opera

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle