Benjamin Givan on Ruth Haire Givan
Benjamin Givan is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Skidmore College. His research has been featured in journals like Current Musicology and Musical Quarterly.
After reading an analysis of one of Sonny Rollins’ improvisations by classically trained composer and scholar Gunther Schuller, there is a legend that states he could no longer play jazz for some time after.
Early Life and Education
Givan was taught piano and violin by her mother, an opera singer herself. Following high school graduation, she earned both a bachelor’s degree in musicology from Brown University as well as both an M.A. and Ph.D. degree from Yale.
Givan began her Stanford University library career as both a librarian and librarian assistant before being named coordinator for foreign visitors. Additionally, she served on both boards – Peninsula School in Menlo Park and Friends of Music at Stanford.
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Ruth Haire Givan of Palo Alto died September 1 at Lytton Gardens Health Care Center at age 103. A member of both Fortnightly Music Club and Neighborhood Book Club, as well as founding supporter for Peninsula School in Menlo Park and Friends of Music at Stanford, she also had four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren; Vernon Givan predeceased her in 1975 and she is survived by four grand- and great-grandchildren as well as Benjamin Givan a professor of musicology at Skidmore College who wrote his mother’s opus The Music of Django Reinhardt which included transcriptions of 200 Django solos for his book;
Achievement and Honors
Benjamin Givan is a musicologist and the author of The Music of Django Reinhardt (University of Michigan Press). His books, essays and reviews have appeared in several scholarly and popular publications such as Current Musicology Quarterly and Down Beat. Givan serves as Assistant Professor of Music at Skidmore College.
He repeatedly exposed himself and his armored personnel carrier to enemy fire to provide covering fire for his unit, and to assist wounded comrades into safety – an action for which he received posthumously the Medal of Honor.
Benjamin Givan traces Django Reinhardt’s unique style and discusses how its creation impacted world culture. Django Reinhardt used an array of processes, improvisational vocabulary and instrumental techniques that have contributed to what is considered one of the world’s most influential styles today.
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Benjamin was an accomplished musician, musicologist, and author of “The Music of Django Reinhardt.” An avid fisherman and hunter who took great pleasure in spending time with his family. An outstanding cook who enjoyed hosting parties for friends. Ben leaves behind his wife Virginia; five children; ten grandchildren and two great-grandchildren as well as three brothers and one sister he leaves behind as his legacy. Ben had strong religious convictions while remaining generous with both time and money.