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Conservatory Mourns Loss of Professor Emeritus Gil Miranda

April 1, 2014
Conservatory Communications Staff
Gil Mirandahor
Photo credit: the Miranda family

Gil Miranda, who devoted the last 17 years of his rich and varied career to teaching music theory at Oberlin, died on March 29 after a brief illness. He was 82.

A native of Lisbon, Portugal, Miranda graduated from the School of Law at Lisbon University and the National Conservatory of Music, then studied composition and music theory with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. Upon returning to Lisbon, he practiced law and taught at the St. Cecilia Academy of Music.

Miranda immigrated to the United States in 1975, focusing his career on music. He held professorships at the University of California, Santa Cruz; Dartmouth College; and the Oberlin Conservatory, where he taught Aural Skills until 2000. Throughout the years, he customized each course to the specific students in attendance, and he devised new plans for each class every week.

"He was a demanding teacher in the best sense of the word; he inspired his students to expect the same quality in his teaching that he expected of them in their work," says Marilyn McDonald, Oberlin professor of violin and a longtime friend of the Miranda family. "He was an inspiration to all in the vigorous manner with which he lived life."

In his life and in his work—and perhaps even in the basque beret that contributed to his signature look—Miranda expressed great pride in his native country. He was dedicated to studying the music of Portugal, including composer Jorge Croner de Vasconcellos, about whom he published a monograph in 1992. More recently, he edited two editions of the composer's music; the last of them, Works for Voice and Instruments, was finished this year and was shared with Miranda at the hospital.

“He was ardent in his devotion to this work, and he brought to it the zeal of a musical scholar and also a native son,” says Oberlin Professor of Musicology Steven Plank. “Colleagues will remember him as a devoted faculty member and a gentle friend.”

An Oberlin resident since 1983, Miranda and his wife Sharon delighted in spending summers together at their cottage in New Hampshire. In retirement, Miranda became active in various community groups, including the Peace and Justice Committee, the Community Peace Builders Program, and the Interfaith Hospitality Network. He was also a member of the Views from Oberlin group, which submits columns to the Oberlin News Tribune on various sociopolitical topics.

In addition to his twin passions for music and law, Miranda was a talented jeweler who was fond of fashioning pieces for his wife, their children, and friends.

Impeccably prepared for seemingly any circumstance, Miranda years ago composed a canon to be played at his memorial. He titled it "Farewell to Clef Reading." The piece will be performed in his honor at a date to be determined.

Miranda is survived by his wife and two daughters: Marta of Seattle and Joana of New York. A Mass in his honor will be held on Monday, April 21, at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Oberlin.

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