Kaufman Music Instrument Collection installed in Music Department

Friday, September 16, 2022

Dr. Robert Damm and Dr. Daniel Stevens

Mrs. Lois and Dr. Harold F. Kaufman came to Starkville and MSU in 1941.  As the first music teacher at MSU, Lois taught music appreciation and music theory in the 1950s.  She also taught piano and strings at Maben High School for 25 years.  She was one of the organizers of the Starkville-MSU Symphony Orchestra in which she played viola. 

Because of Harold’s research, the Kaufmans had traveled and lived in other countries.  Lois studied music during their time abroad and collected instruments.  In 1991, Lois established an endowment for the MSU Music Department in memory of her late husband to support activities associated with music of world cultures.  She also donated her musical instrument collection including sitar, tambura, sarangi “violin,” and flutes from India as well as a kalimba, iron double bell, and talking drum from Nigeria.  It was her wish that these instruments be “displayed appropriately for students and public to view.” 

In 1996, she consented to having these instruments temporarily displayed in the Mitchell Memorial Library.  Dr. Robert J. Damm and the MSU percussion ensemble played a recital to celebrate the installation of the Kaufman Collection.  Lois Kaufman died in 2003.  The Kaufman Collection was eventually stored in the library’s Special Collection archives. 

Thanks to cooperation between David Nolen (Professor, Associate Editor/Reference Librarian with the Ulysses S. Grant Presidential Library) and Robert J. Damm (Professor of Music), the Kaufman Collection has found its home in the Music Education/World Music classroom of the Music Department’s brand new Music Building.  Here, the collection, prominently displayed in a cabinet provided by Lois Kaufman, will “enhance the intellectual and cultural development of students” and help to “address the nature of music as an international form of communication” as she intended.  Photo of Robert Damm and Daniel Stevens, Music Department Head (l-r) courtesy of Jennifer Winter.

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