MILTON BABBITT *92, a longtime music professor, noted composer, and influential theorist, died Jan. 29 in Princeton. He was 94. Babbitt, the William Shubael Conant Professor of Music emeritus, joined the Princeton faculty in 1938 and retired in 1984. During his tenure at the University, he played a major role in the establishment of the music department.
Besides being a passionate teacher and mentor, Babbitt was a pioneer of electronic music. His most notable works include “All Set” (1957) and “Philomel” (1964). He received an honorary degree from Princeton in 1991.
Babbitt’s work was considered cerebral and visionary, and he believed that music should be approached as rigorously as any other academic discipline. At times, however, he was seen as too forward-thinking, and his 1946 dissertation was rejected before being accepted decades later.“He was a musical citizen,” said professor emeritus Peter Westergaard. “He was a great champion of everybody’s new music. Even if he didn’t think much of it, he thought that everybody should be heard.”