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John Weaver dead at 83

April 9, 2021
John Borland Weaver
John Borland Weaver

John Borland Weaver, 83, died February 1. Born April 27, 1937, in Mauch Chunk (now Jim Thorpe), Pennsylvania, he began music studies at age six at Peabody Conservatory of Music, Baltimore, Maryland. At age 14 he began to study organ with Richard Ross and George Markey. Soon thereafter, he became organist of a church in Baltimore and played his first organ recital.

John Weaver earned his undergraduate degree from the Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he was a student of Alexander McCurdy. After two years in the Army as organist and choir director of the Post Chapel at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, he earned a master of sacred music degree from Union Theological Seminary, New York, New York, where he studied organ with Robert Baker and composition with Joseph Goodman. He held honorary doctorates from Westminster College, New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and the Curtis Institute of Music.

Weaver taught at Curtis, serving as chair of the organ department between 1972 and 2003, and also taught at Union Theological Seminary, Westminster Choir College, and the Manhattan School of Music. He was chair of the organ department of The Juilliard School from 1987 until 2004.

In 1959 John Weaver was appointed organist and choir director for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, New York. There he met his future wife, Marianne, a flautist and choir member. They would establish the Bach Vespers series at Holy Trinity in 1968, the first series in the United States where Bach cantatas were performed in liturgical context. John Weaver left Holy Trinity Church in 1970 to become music director at Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church, remaining until 2005. Among his many activities, he directed the St. Andrew Chorale in major works with orchestra.

Weaver was represented by the management of Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc., performing in the United States, Canada, Western Europe, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. He was well known for presenting a large repertoire of works from memory. He appeared on broadcast television and radio network programs in the United States and Germany. Among his appearances included solo performances at Boston Symphony Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the Philadelphia Academy of Music, Orchestra Hall in Chicago, and Severance Hall in Cleveland. He has made recordings for Aeolian-Skinner, the Wicks Organ Company, Klais Orgelbau of Germany, a CD released by Gothic Records for the Schantz Organ Company, and a recording on the Pro Organo label on the new Reuter organ at University Presbyterian Church, Seattle, Washington. There was also a release, The Organ and Choral music of John Weaver, available on the JAV label, featuring a program of his own organ and choral compositions.

John Weaver performed at numerous regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, a convention of the Organ Historical Society, and at the 1987 International Congress of Organists in Cambridge, England. At many of his appearances, he concertized with his wife, Marianne.

Among his compositions, Weaver published Fantasia, Passacaglia on a Theme of Dunstable, and Toccata with Boosey & Hawkes. He composed choral works, as well as Rhapsody for flute and organ. In 1989, Weaver was honored by the Peabody Conservatory with its distinguished alumni award. He further received the distinguished alumni award from Union Theological Seminary in 2008. (For an interview with John Weaver marking his 70th birthday by Michael Barone, see the April 2007 issue of The Diapason, pages 20–23.) In their retirement, John and Marianne Weaver lived in Vermont, from whence he would continue to concertize and lead workshops and masterclasses.

John Borland Weaver was predeceased by his son Jonathan in 2008. He is survived by his wife Marianne, one daughter Kirianne, and two brothers, Robert and his wife Anne, and David and his wife Barbara. 


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