Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia’s School of Music will be named for Hugh Hodgson, a renowned Athens resident and UGA professor who founded UGA’s music department and championed music appreciation and performance throughout the state.
Hodgson was born in Athens in 1893 and graduated from UGA in 1915. His appointment in 1928 as the university’s first music professor is considered the start of the music department. He remained on the faculty until he retired in 1960.
He developed four degree programs in music including the first graduate degree, a master’s in fine arts in music. He was also the first chairman of the university’s division of fine arts and was named a Regents Professor of Music by the University System Board of Regents.
Among his many contributions, Hodgson composed the arrangement for the University of Georgia Alma Mater and wrote the words for the fight song “Glory to Old Georgia.” He was instrumental in construction of the Fine Arts Building, and helped establish the Atlanta and Savannah symphony orchestras.
“This naming is a fitting tribute to a most distinguished UGA graduate and accomplished faculty member,” said UGA President Michael F. Adams. “The School of Music already provides outstanding opportunities for our students, but its long-term potential for expanded excellence is limitless.”
Donald R. Lowe, director of the music school, said Hodgson played an important role in the life of UGA. “Professor Hodgson’s position in the history of the university and the state of Georgia is distinguished and significant” said Lowe. “His influence on the direction of music and the other fine arts over 40 years was profound and it is entirely appropriate that his legacy be preserved through naming the school in his honor.”
The decision to name the school for Hodgson was approved by the University System of Georgia Board of Regents and the University Cabinet.
The music department was designated the School of Music in the mid-1980s to reflect its larger size and more extensive academic curricula and programs. The Hugh Hodgson School of Music will remain part of the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Lowe said naming the school for Hodgson is similar to a 1995 decision to name UGA’s School of Art for Lamar Dodd, whom Hodgson discovered and persuaded to join UGA’s faculty in 1937. Dodd, a widely acclaimed painter, was head of the art department for 40 years.
After the department – which also was in the College of Arts and Sciences – was designated a school, it was named to honor Dodd. A $39 million building for the Dodd School is being constructed adjacent to the music building.
“Professors Hodgson and Dodd laid the foundation for the university’s present fine arts area,” Lowe said. “The construction of a building for the Dodd School of Art adjacent to the building for the Hodgson School of Music will allow these schools to stand side-by-side as lasting tributes to these two important individuals in the history of the University of Georgia.”
Lowe said a ceremonial announcement of the naming will occur April 1, which would be Hodgson’s 112th birthday, and a formal dedication will take place at the school this fall.
With 50 faculty members, 55 graduate assistants, 350 undergraduates and about 150 graduate students, the music school is one of the largest units in the arts and sciences college. The school offers majors in music composition, music education, music performance, conducting, musicology, music theory and music therapy.
The school is home to more than 30 faculty and student instrumental and vocal ensembles, including the UGA Symphony Orchestra, UGA Wind Ensemble and symphonic bands, the men’s and women’s glee clubs, the Concert Choir, the Georgia Brass, the Redcoat Marching Band, the ARCO Chamber Orchestra, the African American Choral Ensemble and the Opera Ensemble.
Hodgson conducted the Men’s Glee Club for 14 years and also conducted a group known as the University Little Symphony for nine years. In the late 1920s, he began offering musical programs on Thursday evenings known as “Music Appreciation Hours.” The series was a popular event in Athens and continues today at the School of Music “Second Thursday Concert Series.”
Hodgson was close friends with famed poet Robert Frost, who came to UGA frequently to speak and meet with faculty, students and townspeople. He also started a high school music festival that annually brought promising Georgia high school musicians to UGA.
After graduating from UGA with Phi Beta Kappa honors, Hodgson studied music and mathematics in New York. He returned to Athens in 1925 as musical director of the Lucy Cobb Institute, a position he held until joining the UGA faculty. After retiring, he continued living in Athens until his death in 1969.