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Former Baldwin Wallace Conservatory Director Warren Scharf Dies at 84

Dr. Warren Scharf was credited with upholding the reputation of the Conservatory while advancing its curriculum and reach.

Dr. Warren Scharf, 84, director of the Baldwin Wallace University Conservatory of Music from 1967-1984, died June 11 from complications following heart surgery. The affable professor was credited with sustaining and building upon the BW Conservatory’s proud heritage and commitment to excellence while introducing programs to expand accessibility to classical music and music education to a broader audience. 

Evolving the Curriculum, Resources, Facilities and Performance 

Immediately upon arriving in Berea, Scharf initiated an extensive curricular study that led to a complete revision of the Conservatory’s curriculum, which according to a 1970 campus conservatory profile, “meeting the needs of the 1970s” by connecting historical, theoretical and practical musical studies into a meaningful association. 

That led to renovations of Merner-Pfeiffer Hall and establishment of the Fern Patterson Jones Library, which houses recordings and scores. During his tenure, the Riemenschneider Bach Institute, one the hemisphere’s leading classical music research facilities with original Bach manuscripts and an exceptional collection of Baroque music and first editions, was established. The institute continues to attract scholars from around the world.

In terms of performance, BW’s Elysian Trio was established on Scharf’s watch and BW gave birth to the Ohio Chamber Orchestra. BW also established a Preparatory Department offering individual lessons as well as opportunities to perform in youth orchestras. Today the Conservatory's outreach department serves literally thousands of students ranging in age from young children to retirees. 

Distinguished Education and Career Achievement

Scharf left the Conservatory directorship in 1984 to return to the classroom and retired from fulltime teaching at BW in 1998.

Scharf received his undergraduate degree (BM-1951), as well as his master’s (MM-1953) and doctorate (DMA-1961) from the Eastman School of Music. Prior to coming to BW, he served as Executive Secretary of the National Association of Schools of Music (1965-67), an accrediting agency for schools of music, and established that agency’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. 

He previously served as director of the Hastings College Conservatory of Music in Nebraska from 1961-65 and was on the Hastings faculty from 1954-65 as an assistant professor of organ and theory and choral director, touring the Midwest with the Hastings College Choir. He taught organ at Oklahoma A & M College from 1956-57. 

A member of the American Guild of Organists, Scharf was active in the study and performance of Bach, with a doctoral thesis on the performance of Bach’s Mass in B Minor and had experience conducting most of the major Bach choral works. That made him a good fit for BW, which is renowned for the nation’s oldest collegiate Bach Festival.

Shared Passion and Purpose

Scharf was married to the former Margaret Rickerd of Toledo, Ohio, an organist, concerto soloist with the Toledo and Eastman-Rochester orchestras, and chair of the organ department at American University in Washington D.C. Together they were co-directors of music at Cleveland’s historic Old Stone Church from 1969-1999. In 1998 they shared the prize given annually by the magazine Northern Ohio Live for the best classical musician in Cleveland. 

The Scharfs have two children, William Franklin and Lora Kathryn.


A memorial service will be at Berea United Methodist Church, 170 Seminary Street (one block north of the BW Chapel) on Saturday, June 21 at 11 a.m. Reception immediately following.

Posted June 2014

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