Will Schwartz, emeritus of the Dept. of Music passed away Aug. 27, 2010

Will Schwartz Promotional Photo

Update: A musical tribute to Wilfred Schwartz will take on Sunday, September 19, 2 p.m., Griffin Concert Hall at the University Center for the Arts. Tickets are FREE, but a ticket is required. Click here to make your reservations.

Original Post: Colorado State University and the Department of Music, Theatre, and Dance mourn the passing of Will Schwartz who died Friday morning, August 27, 2010, at his home near Drake, CO.

“It was with a heavy heart that I announced to our faculty that professor emeritus Will Schwartz had passed away. As founder of the Fort Collins Symphony and professor for 53 years at CSU, it is hard to put his legacy into words. He was truly an extraordinary man,” said Todd Queen, Chair, Department of Music, Theatre & Dance. “We express our condolences to his family for their loss.”


Wilfred Allan Schwartz was born September 23, 1923 in New York City. He was a first generation American born to Isadore Schwartz and Pauline Eisenstein who emigrated from Europe.

Will's passion for music began early. He started playing violin at age six and enrolled in the Julliard School of Music at age 15.

He landed on Normandy Beach days after D-Day and served in a number of capacities during WWII, including infantryman/radio operator, combat MP, French interpreter for counter-intelligence and finally as bandmaster, entertaining troupes at the front and Army Rest Centers. He received a Bronze Star for distinguished service.

In 1947 he earned a master's degree in violin performance and conducting from Julliard. After his debut recital at Carnegie Hall, Will accepted a teaching position in the Music Department at Colorado State University and moved to Fort Collins in 1949.

One of his first aspirations after taking up residence in Fort Collins was to form an orchestra.

He recruited high school and college students, business people, college professors and anyone else who played an instrument, to start building what would become the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra.

For fifty years until his retirement from the symphony, Will served as a guiding force for the promotion and enjoyment of classical music and cultural arts in the Fort Collins community. Throughout his fifty year tenure, Will was totally dedicated to the professional development of the orchestra and attracting top guest artists to solo with the symphony. His influence, passion and tenacity helped establish Fort Collins as a community that valued and supported cultural arts.

Will's talent, vision and energy were inspirational to generations of musicians who played in the orchestra and studied with him at the Music department. In addition to teaching, he spent countless hours advising and counseling students in scholastic and personal life matters and always invited stranded students to join him and his family at holidays. He regularly performed as a violinist or conducted musicians to perform for area K-12 students, rest homes and the developmentally disabled.

Will received numerous awards and honors including the CSU Community Service Award, the AT&T Silver Baton Award for Cultural Service to Colorado, and in 1997 he was named Community Builder of the Year for his service to the Fort Collins community. In addition to his many accomplishments locally, Will traveled and performed extensively throughout the world including Spain, the former Yugoslavia, Italy, Belgium, France, Mexico, Ecuador, Germany and China.

Will loved his family, friends, Brahms, babies, dogs, full moons, Colorado skies and the ocean where he grew up. He is survived by his 21 year life companion Annemarie Chenoweth of Drake, CO, his sister Claire (Lionel) Rudolph of Syracuse, NY, his daughters Lana (Ed) Higginbotham and grandsons Lon and Kyle of Marietta, GA and Lisa Schwartz of Fort Collins, and his sons Eric Schwartz of Denver and Brendan (Julia) Chenoweth, and grandchildren Chase, Drake and Abby of Drake, CO.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Will Schwartz scholarship fund at the Fort Collins Symphony Orchestra.

Obituary originally published in the Coloradoan.