In Memoriam – Fredric Lieberman

To: UCSC Community
From: Amy C. Beal, Chair of the Music Department

It is with sadness and respect that we announce the loss of our colleague, friend, and mentor Fredric Lieberman, professor of music, who passed away on Saturday, May 4, 2013, at age 73. In a long, colorful, and distinguished career, Fredric Lieberman helped to shape the understanding of American popular music in the 20th century and left his mark on the scholarship of Asian ethnomusicology, as well as the legal intricacies of artistic copyright issues.

Fearless in designing and undertaking some of the largest courses ever taught in the Arts Division—such as American Popular Music, The Hollywood Musical, and Music of the Beatles—Lieberman brought his expertise and connoisseurship to a seemingly infinite topography of musical genres, and was as expert on the work of Richard Wagner as he was of Chinese classical performance nuance and the oeuvre of John Lennon.

Lieberman's curricular depth extended to a contextually intensive course on the music of the Grateful Dead.  Thanks to Lieberman's close and longstanding friendship with members of the influential rock band, UCSC's McHenry Library was chosen as the repository of the Grateful Dead's historical archives in 2008.

In addition to his broad musical scholarship, Lieberman's recent work also focused on the music industry and copyright law. He was considered one of the world's authorities on voice recognition and vocal signatures and often consulted as an expert witness in cases of copyright fraud and intellectual property theft within the recording industry.

As an ethnomusicologist, Lieberman was a lifelong researcher into the indigenous musical styles and traditions of China, Japan, Korea, Tibet and South India, and has published on Chinese musical customs, comparisons of Western sonata forms and haiku, and cultural comparisons of the music of Bali and Java. With his UCSC Music Department colleague Leta Miller, Lieberman co-authored in 2006 an important history of the work of American composer Lou Harrison. And collaborating with musicians Mickey Hart and Jay Stevens, Lieberman co-authored Drumming at the Edge of Magic in the mid-1990s.

Trained at the Eastman School of Music, Fredric Lieberman took his M.A. at the University of Hawaii and his Ph.D in Music at UCLA. After seven years of teaching at Brown University, Lieberman became associate professor of music at the University of Washington until 1983, when he joined the music faculty at UCSC. During his 30 years at UCSC, Lieberman served as acting dean of the arts, acting provost of Porter College, and was twice chair of UCSC’s Music Department.

As Dean Yager has noted "This is a terrible loss to the Music Department and the Division; Fred has been an incredible asset for over 30 years, and we will miss him."

The Music Department and Arts Division will be announcing a memorial celebration of Fred's work and will be establishing a memorial fund in his honor.  Please look for more details in the coming weeks.