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James P. Callahan dead at 81

January 11, 2024
James P. Callahan
James P. Callahan

James P. Callahan of St. Paul, Minnesota, died December 28, 2023. He was born on January 15, 1942, in Fargo, North Dakota and raised in Albany, Minnesota. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1964 from St. John’s University, Collegeville, Minnesota, and his Master of Fine Arts degree in piano and a Ph.D. in music theory and composition from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. In addition, he studied at the Mozarteum University, Salzburg, Austria, and Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien, Vienna, Austria. His teachers included Anton Heiller, organ; Willem Ibes and Duncan McNab, piano; and Paul Fetler, composition. 

Callahan was Professor Emeritus at the University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota, where he taught piano, organ, composition, music theory, and piano literature over a 38-year period, retiring in 2006. As an organist, Callahan performed recitals in the upper Midwest, New York, and Austria. His performances appeared on the nationally broadcast radio program Pipedreams. He was instrumental in overseeing the commissioning of the organ for the chapel at the University of St. Thomas, Gabriel Kney Opus 105, completed in 1987. On this instrument he recorded a disc for Centaur, James Callahan: Oberdoerffer, Reger, Rheinberger, Schmidt. He also performed solo piano recitals and made concerto appearances. In addition to his solo performances, he was a member of the Callahan and Faricy Duo piano team, performing throughout the upper Midwest. 

James Callahan composed over 150 works for piano, organ, orchestra, band, opera, and chamber ensembles. Cantata for two choirs, brass, percussion, and organ premiered at St. John’s Abbey Church and was performed at the Cathedral of St. Paul in 1975. His Requiem was premiered by Leonard Raver in 1990 at the University of St. Thomas. Callahan’s music was published by McLaughlin-Reilly, GIA, Paraclete Press, Abingdon Press, and Beautiful Star Publishing. Awards included a study grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a Bush Artist Fellowship. 


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