Union Theological Seminary Mourns

In Memoriam: Dr. Quentin J. Faulkner ’75

Categories: Union News

Picture of Quentin Falkner

Quentin Faulkner, 80 years old, died on December 30, 2023 in Houston, TX. He is survived by his wife of 56 years, Mary Murrell (Bennett) Faulkner, three brothers, a daughter and son-in-law, a son and daughter-in-law, and four grandchildren. Faulkner was Larson Professor of Organ and Music Theory/History (emeritus) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a writer of scholarly books in the areas of church music and J.S. Bach performance practice, the translator of monumental German treatises of the 17th and 18th centuries, and an organ concert artist.

Faulkner earned an undergraduate degree in organ and church music from Westminster Choir College, where he studied organ with George Markey and Alexander McCurdy. He received graduate degrees in sacred music and theology from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, where he studied conducting with Lloyd Pfautsch, organ with George Klump, and liturgics with James White. Faulkner completed his doctoral studies at the School of Sacred Music, Union Theological Seminary, where he studied organ with Alec Wyton. Each of these schools subsequently awarded him its distinguished alumni award for his contributions to the field of church music. While a student, he served for three years as Assistant Organist at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, during which time he led the musical celebration honoring Dr. Wyton on his retirement and was the organist for Duke Ellington’s funeral.

For 32 years Faulkner served on the faculty at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he developed a unique and comprehensive cycle of courses in church music and received numerous teaching awards. He and his colleague George Ritchie were co-coordinators of a distinguished series of organ conferences at the university, each conference with a distinct topic of scholarly investigation and culminating in the first conference held in Naumburg, Germany at the newly restored 1746 Hildebrandt organ in St. Wenzel’s Church. In 1998, Faulkner received a Fulbright grant to teach as guest professor at the Evangelische Hochschule für Kirchenmusik in Halle, Germany, a position to which he returned for the academic year 2006-07 following his retirement from the University of Nebraska.

Faulkner’s professional career included both academic and practical pursuits. He was equally respected for his scholarly investigation in the field of church music (Wiser than Despair: The Evolution of Ideas in the Relationship of Music and the Christian Church, Greenwood Press, 1996) and in historical performance practice of the organ works of J.S. Bach (J.S. Bach’s Keyboard Technique: A Historical Introduction, Concordia, 1984; The Registration of J.S. Bach’s Organ Works, Wayne Leupold Editions, 2008; Johann Sebastian Bach, The Complete Organ Works, Series II, Volume I, The Performance of the Organ Works: Source Readings, Leupold Editions, 2020). He translated historic German treatises into English, and then edited and annotated the translations to make them accessible to contemporary students and scholars (Jacob Adlung, Musica mechanica organoedi, Parts 1, 2, and 3, Zea E-Books, 2011; Michael Praetorius, Syntagma Musicum II: De Organographia, Parts III – V, Zea Books, 2014). Faulkner reveled in working at the intersections of various disciplines, particularly enjoying the interplay of the scholarly and the performing musician, and extensively studying the relationships between and among religion, culture, and the arts. He served as a member of the Advisory Board for the Encyclopedia of Keyboard Instruments for Garland Publishing Co., as consultant for J.S. Bach Tercentenary publishing project of Concordia Publishing House, as Editor for Performance Issues for the Leupold Edition of J.S. Bach’s organ works, and as a member of the Advisory Board of the Institute of Sacred Music at Yale University. He also led multiple tours of Bach’s Organ World in eastern Germany, sharing his passion and knowledge with participants as they studied, played, and listened to instruments with direct connections to J.S. Bach.

quentin falkner unitas award

Throughout his career and in retirement, Faulkner remained a performing musician, presenting organ recitals, workshops, and lectures. He and his wife served as church musicians in Dothan, AL, New York City, Lincoln, NE, and Greenfield, MA. He was particularly concerned with music in small churches and wrote numerous practical articles for professional journals, composed anthems for small choirs, and served as a clinician for more than fifty Church Music Workshops in Nebraska. He served the American Guild of Organists on various local and national committees and as its national Councillor for Education. He was an Honorary Lifetime member of the organization’s Lincoln Chapter.

Faulkner will be missed by his colleagues, students, associates, choir members, family, and friends. A memorial service will be held on April 20, 2024 at Christ Church Cathedral, Houston. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Alzheimer’s Association (Attn: Donor Services, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Floor 17, Chicago, IL 60601; www.alz.org/donate), Church Music Institute (5923 Royal Lane, Dallas, TX 75230; www.churchmusicinstitute.org/donate), or the charity of one’s choice.