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Longest-serving Southern Seminary professor dies

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — A world-famous pianist and musicologist who was the longest-serving faculty member in the history of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary died Nov. 11 after a battle with cancer. Maurice Hinson, 84, was the senior professor of piano at the seminary and had taught courses for 58 years.

“Maurice Hinson was one of the greatest musicologists ever to serve among Southern Baptists, a world-class scholar whose authority was regularly invoked in the leading conservatories and schools of music around the world,” said Southern Seminary President R. Albert Mohler Jr., describing Hinson’s “immeasurable” legacy. “He was a wonderful Christian gentleman who combined his love for students with his love for music, having a very rare gift both as a pianist and as one of the great scholars of the piano as an instrument. He will be greatly missed.”

Hinson was an accomplished pianist by age 13, attending the Sherwood Music School in Chicago for three summers. The prodigy decided to pursue a career in teaching while enrolled in the Julliard School of Music in New York his senior year of high school. After graduating with his bachelor of arts from the University of Florida, Hinson served in the Korean War and found himself stationed away from the battlefield in France. It was there he studied under famed musician George Bolen at the Conservatoire National in Paris. Hinson resumed his formal education following his military service and earned his master of music and doctor of musical arts degrees from the University of Michigan. He began teaching at Southern Seminary in 1957.

“The passing of Dr. Maurice Hinson marks the close of an unprecedented teaching ministry in the area of church music and worship at Southern Seminary,” said Adam W. Greenway, dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry. “Through the countless students he taught and the abundant published works he produced, Dr. Hinson made an indelible contribution to Christian ministry by helping the church of our Lord Jesus Christ more faithfully witness through music. Our deepest prayers and sympathy are with the Hinson family during this time of loss.”

In addition to being the longest-serving faculty member in the seminary’s history, Hinson was also the most widely published. Among his 14 books, the reference work “Guide to the Pianist’s Repertoire” is considered a standard in the field and is currently in its fourth edition. He also wrote more than 100 articles in music publications.

Through the publishing company Alfred Music, Hinson produced more than 300 masterworks, which are edited collections of classical compositions to help students learn to perform difficult pieces from the likes of Beethoven and Mozart. Some of his most recent articles appear in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music in the United States.

“His contribution was fourfold as concert pianist, scholar, pedagogue — very famous in terms of the technique of teaching piano — and then church musician,” said Esther Crookshank, Ollie Hale Chiles Professor of Church Music at Southern Seminary, who served alongside Hinson for 20 years.

Crookshank said she admired Hinson’s commitment to excellence and recounted numerous examples of his vibrancy in the classroom, including guest appearances in her classes in which he would analyze and perform from memory dozens of Beethoven’s most challenging sonatas. Hinson continued to display his energy even later in his life, complaining to colleagues as recently as January, shortly before his cancer diagnosis, that doctors had limited his participation in a senior tennis league to twice a week.

“Excellence characterized everything about him. He was a joy, so full of energy and effervescent. He really sparkled even as he was teaching,” Crookshank said. “He has been a gift to the world of music and to the church.”

Hinson was the first president of the Greater Louisville Music Teachers Association and president of the Kentucky Music Teachers Association.

Among his other achievements, Hinson received the Liszt Commemorative Medal from the Hungarian government and the Medal of Excellence by the American Liszt Society for his research on the music of Franz Liszt; the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Music Teachers National Association in the spring of 1994; the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Florida in 1990; and the Outstanding Alumni Award from the University of Michigan in the fall of 1995.

Hinson is survived by his wife Peggy of 64 years (the couple first met in kindergarten at age 5), daughter Susan Elizabeth Jordan, and four grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Jane Leslie Enoch.

A visitation for Hinson will be held Nov. 15, 1–4 p.m., at Pearson Funeral Home, 149 Breckenridge Lane in Louisville. His funeral service is scheduled for Nov. 16 at noon in Broadway Baptist Church, 4000 Brownsboro Road, where was a member for 29 years. A private burial will follow at Cave Hill Cemetery.

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  • S. Craig Sanders