Obituary for Andre' Larson
Dr. Andre’ Pierre Larson, 74, of Arvada, CO formerly of Vermillion, SD passed away Friday, March 24 in Arvada, CO.
Andre’ Larson was born November 10, 1942 in Littlefork Village, MN to Arne B. and Jeanne (Kay) Larson. Andre’ grew up in Brookings, South Dakota. He was a four-year member of the South Dakota All-State Band and played his clarinet two years in the All-State Orchestra. Andre’ graduated from Brookings High School in 1960.
Andre’ earned a B.F.A. in music education at USD in 1964. From 1964 to 1968, Andre’ owned and operated The Larson Music Company, a retail music store, in Brookings. In 1968, Andre’ received a M.M. degree in Music Literature with a minor in Theatre at USD. From 1968 to 1972, Andre’ was a graduate teaching assistant at West Virginia University at Morgantown, where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Musicology with a minor in European History in 1974.
Andre’ was hired in 1972 as the first director of The Shrine to Music Museum (later renamed as the National Music Museum). The Museum was founded as a nonprofit institution by the University of South Dakota and the Board of Trustees of The Shrine to Music Museum, Inc.
Andre’ conceptualized, articulated, and implemented plans for the development of the Museum. He focused on the development of the Museum’s collections, the ultimate measure of a museum’s greatness, with the goal of creating the preeminent institution of its kind in the world. That goal was reached before the end of the century. The collections now include many of the earliest, best-preserved, and historically most important instruments known to survive and are the most inclusive in the world. Additionally, Andre’ established the Center for Study of the History of Musical Instruments at USD offering the nation’s only graduate degree in the history of musical instruments.
Andre’ studied the techniques used to exhibit musical instruments in American, European, and Japanese museums, analyzed why most were not successful and used the few good ideas that he did find.
Andre’ served as President of the American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) for three terms, 1981-87. He was the recipient in 1990 of the Curt Sachs Award, the highest honor his peers can bestow, “in recognition of his achievements as educator, scholar, collector, and exhibitor … in appreciation of his connoisseurship, skill, and perseverance in creating a major international resource in South Dakota for the study, exhibition, and conservation of historical musical instruments.”
In 2006 Andre’ was elected to the South Dakota Hall of Fame for his contributions to the Arts in South Dakota.
Andre’ retired as the Director of the National Music Museum in February of 2011.
Andre’ is survived by his brother Arnor, sons Nathan and Nikolas, 4 grandsons, 1 granddaughter and 1 great-granddaughter. Andre’ was preceded in death by his parents Arne and Jean (Kay), his sister Annette (Tieszen), and his brother Aaron.
The family suggests that memorials be directed to the National Music Museum, University of South Dakota, 414 E. Clark St. Vermillion, SD 57069.
Arrangements are pending at this time.