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John Dowd

Died: Sat., Feb. 6, 2016

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John Andrew Dowd, Ph.D., pianist, composer, publisher, fine arts patron, and curator of rare music, died on February 6th, 2016.

As the owner of Musica Obscura, a rare-music publishing company, Dowd curated and published rare works by recognized and obscure composers. His loyal clientele included performers, choir directors, university music professors, and other musicians in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He had a discerning ability to recognize rare and interesting sheet music that larger publishing houses had neglected, scouring personal collections, music shops, antiques sales, attics, garages, and other sources.

Dr. Dowd helped enrich the cultural life of Johnson City, TN throughout the 1970s as chairman of the music department at Milligan College, inviting world-renowned musicians to perform at the college either as soloists or accompanied by the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra. As a professor of music theory at Milligan, he was loved and respected by his many students. An exceptional pianist and composer, Dr. Dowd was eager to discuss and share his love of music with his friends and colleagues.

He earned a Master’s Degree of Music in Theory and Composition from the New England Conservatory of Music, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Music  Composition from the University of West Virginia. During a sabbatical leave from Milligan in 1977-8, he and his family lived in Reading, England, UK, where he studied music at Reading and Oxford Universities.

He performed as a pianist in and around Johnson City, demonstrating a mastery of a large classical repertoire, and also improvising known jazz standards.

He was a warm, vivacious and intelligent presence.  Deeply loved by his children, grandchild and friends, he was an exquisite joke-teller and lover of irony, adept at deflating arrogance with wit.

Cherished as a father, grandfather, uncle, brother, friend and teacher, Dowd is survived by his children, Carolyn (Clif Rompf) of Louisville, KY; Stephen (Diane Rigda), of San Francisco, CA; Edith, of Brooklyn, NY; and grandchild, Cassandra Louise Dowd. His musicianship extends into the next generation with all children involved in musical pursuits. Carolyn is a singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist and cellist. Stephen is a violinist whose, daughter, Cassandra is beginning flute lessons. Edie is a celebrated contralto with a wide repertoire and a long list of world-wide performances, including current appearances in New York’s Metropolitan Opera Chorus.

He was preceded in death by his parents Frank Joseph Dowd and Charlotte Josephine (nee Tobi) Dowd; brothers, Frank and Kenneth; and sister, Francis.  Endlessly outgoing and friendly, he was well-loved at his final home at Lakebridge Nursing Home in Johnson City, Tennessee.

He died at age 83, days before his 84th birthday, having suffered Alzheimer’s disease since 2009. His children, relatives and all who knew him will cherish his memory.

A memorial service and will be held on March 19th from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. at the Johnson City Country Club.

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David Runner
   Posted Wed March 16, 2016
It was my great privilege and pleasure to know John Dowd during my early years as a teacher in the music department at Milligan College. John went out of his way to make me feel at home, and groomed me to assume his position as music theory professor after his departure. I will always remember him for his warm friendship, sharp wit and guiding hand.

Image: dan / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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