Charles Krigbaum dead at 91

June 17, 2020
Charles Krigbaum
Charles Krigbaum

Charles Russell Krigbaum, Professor Emeritus of music and university organist at Yale University, died April 30 at the age of 91 in Beverly, Massachusetts. He was born March 31, 1929, in Seattle, Washington, and grew up in New Jersey, where he studied piano with Margaret Maas and organ with Margaret McPherson Dubocq. He earned his Bachelor of Arts (1950) and his Master of Fine Arts (1952) degrees from Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey, where he was a pupil of Carl Weinrich. He received a Fulbright grant to study at the Hochschule für Musik and Goethe University in Frankfurt, 1956–1958; there he studied organ with Helmut Walcha and André Marchal.

He joined the faculty at Yale in 1958 as instructor in organ and as music director in Marquand Chapel at Yale Divinity School. He was conductor of the University Choir in Battell Chapel from 1961 to 1973. 

Krigbaum was instrumental in the design of the H. Frank Bozyan Memorial Organ, the Beckerath organ in Dwight Memorial Chapel. In 1985, with John Ferris of Harvard University, he played the premiere performance of J. S. Bach’s Neumeister Collection, a performance broadcast worldwide from Battell Chapel. He became a staunch advocate for the Newberry Memorial Organ in Yale’s Woolsey Hall, recording much of Messaien’s organ music on LPs and later recording the complete organ works of Charles-Marie Widor.

Krigbaum retired from Yale in 1995. In 2007 a new three-manual Taylor & Boody organ in the gallery of Marquand Chapel, commissioned by the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, was inaugurated and named the Krigbaum Organ. 

Charles Krigbaum is survived by his children, Ruth (Herb) Rich, and Mary Krigbaum of Beverly, and John Krigbaum (Denise), of Gainesville, Florida. He is also survived by four grandchildren, Sam Rich, of Brooklyn, New York, Ben Rich, of Boston, Massachusetts, Jennie Krigbaum of Beverly, and Clara Krigbaum, of Gainesville, Florida.