photo of Emma Lou Diemer

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Alessandra Villegas
Marketing and Communications Manager

July 9, 2024

Professor Emma Lou Diemer was a pioneer of her time. An excellent composer, performer, and visionary in the field of electronic music, she paved the way for the Music Department at UCSB to become one of the leaders in this field. Professor Diemer was an incredible role model for women composers, with an excellent background in music composition when it was difficult for women to be acknowledged in this field. She studied composition with major figures such as Howard Hanson, Ernst Bloch, and Paul Hindemith and received her Masters in Music Composition from Yale University and her PhD. from the Eastman School of Music in 1960.

Dr. Diemer was professor of theory and composition at the University of Maryland from 1965 to 1970 and joined the faculty in the Music Department at UCSB in 1971. She was a member of the Composition faculty from the inception of the Program until her retirement in 1990, when she became Professor Emerita in 1991 and composed and published works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, organ, as well as others. She was organist emerita at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Barbara.

Professor Diemer was an international figure in her field with over 250 published compositions for orchestra, chorus, chamber ensemble, keyboard, voice, and electronic media. She was also an excellent keyboard performer and performed her own organ works at important
international sites such as the Washington National Cathedral and others. Her musical style encompassed both tonal as well as complex atonal works.

Professor Diemer’s honors include awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), the American Guild of Organists, and a 1992 Kennedy Center Friedheim award for her Concerto in One Movement for Piano, as well as others. She was featured on NPR and honored as one of the most prolific composers of her time.

Professor Emma Lou Diemer made important and significant contributions to contemporary music composition and organ performance and will be remembered as an important and historical figure in the music of the 20th and 21st century.

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