No Beethoven, Please! We're Electronic!
Albert C. Ruocchio
Alum, Staff Member, Student
Columbia College 1958
School of Engineering and Applied Science 1959
School of Engineering and Applied Science 1961
As a student of the School of Engineering from 1957 to 1961, I had the privilege of having some part-time employment in the Electronic Music Center, under the direction of Peter T. Mauzey. It was very interesting work, but very unusual for the time.
One thing in particular comes to mind: we were in the auditorium set up for the concerts and were, as engineers, thrilled by the audio equipment. Thinking we were alone, we put on a stereo tape of a Beethoven symphony. We were caught! Professor Ussachevsky came in and told us that this hall was for electronic music only; we were not to use it for manually generated music from normal instruments. I guess it might give the space a bad name for great classical music to use those facilities. To keep our jobs, we made the tape disappear.
On another note, the best part of my Columbia experience was having a teaching fellowship in the years 1959 to 1961 and, in the second year, serving under the guidance of Professor Jacob Millman. He was the greatest teacher I have ever met. Today, some 45 years later, in my consulting business, I still use the techniques he taught me so well. I will always treasure the engineering I learned from him.