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James Christian Pfohl

James Christian Pfohl

James Christian Pfohl was the first elected president of the newly formed North Carolina Bandmasters
Association in 1938.

At the age of 19, he was asked to start a music department at Davidson
College which, under his direction, was the first men's college in America to
give credit for applied music.

Founder of the Brevard Music Center
Conductor of the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra
Primary Inspiration for Starting the NCSchool of Arts

Obituary from the Greensboro News & Record - April 1, 1997:


WINSTON-SALEM - James Christian Pfohl, 84, a college music professor, symphony orchestra conductor, church musician and founder of Transylvania Music Camp and The Brevard Music Center in western North Carolina, died Friday, March 28, at his home in Jacksonville, Florida, after a prolonged period of disability following a stroke.

Born in Winston-Salem, N.C., son of Moravian Church Bishop and Mrs. J. Kenneth Pfohl, he attended the University of North Carolina before transferring to the University of Michigan, where he earned a B.A. in organ and an M.A. in musicology. At the age of 19, he was asked to start a music department at Davidson College which, under his direction, was the first men's college in America to give credit for applied music. Early in his 19-year tenure at Davidson, Dr. Pfohl was inducted into the American Bandmasters Association.

After earning a scholarship to attend America's first music camp, Interlochen in Michigan, Dr. Pfohl's dream to have a music camp in the South began to take place when in 1936, eighty boys signed up for the Davidson Music School Camp. When war lead the Army to take over the College in 1938, the music camp moved briefly to Queens College in Charlotte, where it added girls, but soon moved to Brevard, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where Dr. Pfohl lead it for the next 29 years, and where it continues to educate young musicians and to attract large audiences for its music festival. While early on the music camp attracted local faculty and students, soon students and faculty were coming from a broad geographic area and from major symphonies such as Baltimore and Cincinnati. Soloists like Beverly Sills, Isaac Stern, Gina Bachauer and George Bolet were among the world's finest.

In 1952, Dr. Pfohl resigned from Davidson to accept an offer from the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida, to become its conductor, a position he also then held and continued to hold with the Charlotte Symphony in North Carolina. Also in Charlotte, he was music director at the Myers Park Presbyterian Church and had a weekly symphonic TV program called 'The Carolina Hour' and a radio show from Davidson.

Before retiring to Jacksonville in 1983, Dr. Pfohl, who previously was awarded an honorary doctorate of music by The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, lived in the then brand-new planned community of Reston, Virginia, where in 1967, he started the Reston Summer Music Center. In 1977, having by then moved to York, Pa., to conduct the York Symphony and be Musician-in-Residence at York College, Dr. Pfohl started the York Youth Symphony and York Music Center for Young Musicians. Continuing a tradition held strongly by him, young musicians played and learned by sitting directly beside their teachers, in this case some professional symphony players who had come full circle from their formative years studying under Dr. Pfohl at Brevard.

Dr. Pfohl is credited as the primary inspiration in getting the North Carolina School of the Arts started in Winston-Salem.

In 1961, Dr. Pfohl received the Delta Omicron Citation of Honor from the National Music Educators Conference ``for his outstanding contribution to the youth of America in the field of music,' as well as an invitation from the Kennedy White House to conduct a concert by the Brevard orchestra on the White House lawn. Dr. Pfohl was also honored by the American Symphony Orchestra League for ``furthering contemporary music through performance.'

Dr. Pfohl's first wife and mother of his children, Louise Nelson, died in 1968.

Survivors include his second wife, Carolyn Day Pfohl; a daughter, Alice Keith Knowles of Kingsport, Tenn.; two sons, James C. Pfohl Jr. of Winston-Salem, and Dr. David N. Pfohl of Bala Cynwyd, Pa.; 11 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

The funeral will be held Tuesday, April 1, in Jacksonville, Fla., at Riverside Presbyterian Church. A Moravian funeral and burial will be conducted on Thursday, April 3, at 10 a.m., at Home Moravian Church and Gods Acre, Winston-Salem.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that contributions be made to scholarship funds honoring Dr. Pfohl at Davidson College and The Brevard Music Center.

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