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Retired music professor Juel-Larsen dies at 78

- December 10, 2007

Petter Juel-Larsen, professor emeritus of music, died Nov. 11. He was 78.

Juel-Larsen, who lived in Storrs, taught at UConn for 33 years. A popular lecturer, attendance in his music appreciation course sometimes topped 500 students.

He was well-known for giving his courses a dramatic flair, by turns pacing the aisles or sitting at the piano demonstrating a melody.

He claimed never to have repeated a lecture. After retiring from the University in 1992, he turned his attention to dramatic productions.

Glenn Stanley, professor of music, remembers Juel-Larsen as a “wonderful colleague with a wry sense of humor” and a “wonderful mentor to me. He provided great intellectual stimulus, took an active interest in my research and teaching, and guided me through some turbulent waters from time to time.”

Stanley says Juel-Larsen’s community service contributions equaled his university work. “About these, he was exceedingly modest, but that was typical of this distinguished man who I will greatly miss.”

Juel-Larsen grew up in Albany, N.Y. He graduated from Yale University in 1951 and the Eastman School of Music in 1955.

He enjoyed traveling; London and Scotland were his favorite places to visit. He lived in London for a year and took several sabbaticals there.

He was an accomplished concert pianist from an early age, and performed in the U.S. and Europe.

He served in the army for three years and was assigned to the U.S. Military Academy Band at West Point, where he became the band’s pianist. He studied for a year at the Royal Academy of Music in London before joining the UConn faculty in 1959.

During the 1960s, Juel-Larsen narrated a weekly radio program called “Night Themes” for WTIC-Hartford and then WQXR-New York.

The show blended contemporary music and poetry with short meditations.

He narrated Christmas programs with the Boston Pops and the Hartford Symphony orchestras. He also planned and performed several solo dramatic readings, including a Christmas program at the Hillstead Museum in Farmington and, more recently, two programs at the Hartford Public Library.

Juel-Larsen was an avid book collector. He read the dictionary for pleasure and was conversant in French, familiar with German and Italian, and remembered snippets of Norwegian from the pre-war European summers of his childhood.

He is survived by Ann, his wife of 24 years; and his three children, Petter Niels, Michael, and Sara.

Contributions may be made to Joshua’s Trust, the St. Mark’s Chapel Organ Fund, or Amnesty International.

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