John H. Beck

John H. Beck's Biography

John H. Beck has been a member of the Eastman School of Music faculty since 1959. He received his bachelor's degree (1955), master's degree (1962) and Performer's Certificate from Eastman. He retired from Eastman in 2008 and continues as Professor Emeritus of Percussion while teaching a class on the history of percussion.

Beck's career as a performer and teacher includes posts as percussionist, timpanist and marimba soloist with the United States Marine Band (1955-59); principal percussionist with the Rochester Philharmonic (1959-62); and timpanist with the Rochester Philharmonic (1962-2002). He has made numerous solo appearances, including performances with the Eastman Wind Ensemble and Philharmonia, Syracuse Wind Ensemble, Chautauqua Band, Rochester Chamber Orchestra, Corning Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Memphis State Wind Ensemble, Pennsylvania Festival Band and Filharmonia Pomorska of Poland.

Beck's other engagements include faculty of the Grand Teton Orchestra Seminar; conductor of the Penfield Symphony; performer, clinician, teach and conductor for the International Workshops for Percussion in Bydgoszcz, Poland; and as an adjudicator for the International Percussion Competition in Luxembourg; the Japan Music Education and Culture Promotion in Tokyo; the Timpani Competition in Paris; and the Snare Drum Competition in Atlanta, Georgia. He has been a percussionist-in-residence at the Royal Danish Academy of Music in Copenhagen; the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester; the Interlochen Center for the Arts Summer Arts Camp in Michigan; and Rowan University in New Jersey. As an internationally renowned clinician and performer, Beck has also been involved in events throughout the U.S. as well as in Brazil, Italy, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Croatia and Russia.

Articles by Beck have been published in Music Journal, The Instrumentalist and Percussive Notes, among others. In addition, he was Percussion Columnist for the National Association of College Wind and Percussion Instructors Journal from 1965 to 1972, and he has contributed articles to the Grove Dictionary of American Music and the World Book Encyclopedia. His compositions have been published through Carl Fischer, Boston Music, Kendor Music, Meredith Music, MCA, Wimbledon Music, Studio 4 Productions, and CPP Belwin. His Encyclopedia of Percussion is in its second edition and is published by Routledge. Beck has served as State Chairman of Percussion for the New York State School Music Association (1970-72); President of the Percussive Arts Society's New York Chapter (1976-82); and National Second Vice President (1982-84), First Vice President (1984-86) and President (1987-90) of the Percussive Arts Society.

Beck has received numerous honors, including the Mu Phi Epsilon Musician of the Year recognition (1976), the Monroe County School Music Association Award (1996), Eastman's Eisenhart Award for Excellence in Teaching (1997), Edwin Peck Curtis Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2003) and the JD Award for Outstanding Service to Music Education (2004). He was inducted into the Percussive Arts Society Hall of Fame in 1999, and in 2002, the organization presented him with an Outstanding Service Award.

Since retirement in 2008, Beck has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award from the New York State School Music Association (2009), the President's Award from Rowan University (2010), the Lifetime Achievement Award from KoSA International Percussion (2010) and the Lifetime Achievement Award from Giornate della Percussione in Fermo, Italy (2010). His book Percussion Matters: Life at the Eastman School of Music was published in 2011 by Meliora Press. The John Beck Composition Prize was established by Percussion Rochester and has been awarded as a highlight of the festival since 2012. On May 12, 2016, Beck received an honorary Doctor of Music from the College of Performing Arts at Rowan University, and on April 22, 2018, he was inducted into the Rochester Music Hall of Fame in Rochester, NY.

John H. Beck's Gear
John H. Beck