(January 25, 1902 - April 15, 1994)
University Carillonneur and Associate Professor of Music.
Ira Schroeder was born in Blarisburg, Iowa on January 25, 1902. He graduated from the Ellsworth Conservatory in Iowa Falls, Iowa (1923), and the Bush Conservatory in Chicago, Illinois, where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree in piano and theory (1927). After four years of graduate work in piano and piano pedagogy as well as teaching piano and theory at the Bush Conservatory, Schroeder came to Iowa State College (now University) in 1931. He served as Carillonneur (1931-1969) and as an Instructor (1931-1944), Assistant Professor (1944-1949), and as Associate Professor (1949-1969) in the Department of Music. Known as Mr. Carillonneur, Schroeder played a fifteen-minute carillon concert twice a day, Monday through Friday at 7:45 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. In addition to teaching piano, he taught classes in music appreciation since 1949. His book Listener’s Handbook -- A Guide to Music Appreciation was published by the Iowa State University Press (1962).
In 1961, Schroeder was named the VEISHEA Parade Marshal, and was inducted into the ISU Cardinal Key Honor Society. He was again invited to be the grand marshal of the 1969 VEISHEA parade, which was a farewell gift in appreciation of his long and dedicated service to Iowa State. After retirement, he moved to Leesburg, Florida, and subsequently to Perry, Iowa. He died on April 15, 1994 at 92 years old.
Schroeder studied piano with a list of renowned pianists. He began studying with Dr. Artemus Erwin Bullock, a pupil of Giuseppe Buonamici. Under the tutorage of Mme Julie Rivé-King, a pupil of Franz Liszt, he won four consecutive full scholarships at Bush Conservatory. His postgraduate work was under Harold von Mickwitz, a pupil of Theodor Leschetizky, Sergei Tarnowsky, teacher of Vladimir Horowitz, Howard Wells, and Dr. Edgar Nelson.
As a piano soloist, Schroeder performed with the Michigan City Symphony and Iowa State Symphony. He also presented solo recitals in the Midwest and at Iowa State. His piano students won many contests and honors. Many were accepted by leading music schools and became leaders in the music profession.
It was curiosity in the carillon of St. Chrysostom’s church in Chicago that led Schroeder to the carillon. “One Sunday afternoon I heard Harold Simonds of St. Chrysostom’s play. Simonds invited me up to watch him, and one thing led to another.”1 He first studied with Harold Simonds, then Percival Price, Dominion Carillonneur of Canada (summer 1935). He later attended the Royal Carillon School in Mechelen, Belgium (L’Ecole du Carillon, Malines), studied with Jef Denyn, Staf Nees and Victor van Geysegehem (summer 1937).
During his tenure, Schroeder presented many carillon workshops and special carillon concerts at Iowa State including 45-minutes summer Sunday evening concerts. He also performed numerous guest carillon concerts in North America and Europe, including carillon dedication recitals at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (1936, 1963 and 1973) as well as a series of guest recitals at the Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida.
Schroeder was instrumental in the addition of thirteen bells (1956), and the fiftieth bell (1967) of the Stanton Memorial Carillon. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the carillon (1949), Iowa State College issued an album of three 10-inch, 78 rpm vinyl records featuring Schroeder on the carillon. The record contains “State College of Iowa” and “Rock of Ages” recorded on the original ten bells, and three Iowa State College songs “State College of Iowa”, “The Bells of Iowa State” and “Alma Mater” as well as two English songs on the 36-bell carillon. The next recording project, Schroeder collaborated with Richard H. Kraemer of the Iowa State College Film Production Unit in a 33 ⅓ LP vinyl recording called Carillon Concert (1963). The project took two years and considerable experimentation. A single Telefunken microphone was placed in the bell chamber, which fed to a Berlant reel-to-reel tape recorder. Mastering and pressing was done by Recorded Publications Company of Camden, New Jersey. The record includes 45 minutes of original carillon music composed by Willem de Fesch, Staf Nees, Leen ‘t Hart, B.J. Franssen and Matthias Van den Gheyn as well as Ira Schroeder’s carillon arrangements of music by J.S. Bach, C.W. Gluck, Franz Schubert, Matthias Van den Gheyn, Johann Strauss and Theodore Lack.
As an advisor to the Iowa State Phi Mu Alpha music fraternity, Schroeder helped in organizing two concerts by internationally acclaimed violinist, Mischa Elman, and pianist, Walter Gieseking. He also held a benefit concert to purchase a Steinway grand piano. Another benefit recital was performed to raise funds for a music scholarship. It was held on September 19, 1982 in the newly built Music Hall. “Iowa State gave me thirty-eight very happy years and this is in gratitude,” wrote Schroeder. “Also, the fact that if I had not been granted a scholarship when I first went to Chicago in the early twenties I could never have made it … P.S. My recitals next year will be to celebrate my 80th year of this good life.” 2
To commemorate the renovation and rededication of the campanile and the carillon in 1994, the Stanton Memorial Carillon Foundation commissioned Ronald Barnes (1927-1997) for a carillon work. Eulogy for carillon was written in memory of Ira Schroeder. The themes of that piece are based on the names of Ira Schroeder and his wife Helen Henbest of Appleton, Wisconsin.
Schroeder was a charter member of the National Piano Teachers Guild, and a member of the Extension Department of the National Academy of Music. He was an Honorary Member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in Spain (Agrupacion de Amigos de las Campanas) and a member of the Carillon Society of Holland (Nederlandse Klokkenspel Vereniging). He was a charter member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (1936). He served the Guild as the president (1965-66), an adviser of the music publications (1960), editorial staff of the Bulletin (1954-55), and chairman of the International nominating committee (1953-54). He received a “Citation of Merit” from the Guild in 1971.
Ira Schroeder Papers, RS 13/17/54, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.
Henry Gilman Papers, RS 13/6/52, Special Collections Department, Iowa State University Library.
Bunge, Jean (1945) "He Serenades the Campus," The Iowa Homemaker: Vol. 25: No. 3 , Article 9.
Available at: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/homemaker/vol25/iss3/9