Charles King Barry, A. B., Music B., Professor of Piano Forte
Graduated, Oberlin Conservatory, 1891; Teacher of Pianoforte, Oberlin Conservatory, 1891-1892; Student at Berlin, Leipzig and Vienna, 1892-1894; Instructor in Pianoforte, Oberlin Conservatory, 1894-1906; A. B., Oberlin College, 1899; Music B., Oberlin Conservatory, 1906, retiring in 1931.
On June 03, 1958, there passed away in his ninety third year Charles King Barry whose loyalty to Oberlin never ceased during the seventy five years he had been a part of it. He enrolled as a Freshman in 1883, remaining through his Sophomore year, when he yielded to his lawyer-father’s wish that his son prepare for a career in law. As with Robert Shuman the law was abandoned as soon as possible, and in 1888, Charles Barry returned to Oberlin as a student in the Conservatory, from which he was graduated in 1891. That fall he began teaching here as an Instructor in Pianoforte. Then followed two years of study in Germany, years filled with rich experiences in art, philosophy and music. Mr. Barry returned a disciple of Brahms, this at a time when most American students were so dazzled by the brilliance of Wagner that they seldom discovered Brahms. Throughout the years Mr. Barry continued to introduce students and friends to a music which he found deeply satisfying. For some years Mr. Barry was an Instructor in Singing and later for a year he was an instructor in German. He gained the rank of Professor of Pianoforte in 1906 and continued until his retirement in 1931 to lead his students with patience and kindliness to a fuller appreciation of music.
The death of a colleague always stirs the memory. The first picture that comes to mind is that of Charles Barry as he strode forth in the village and in the country about, chin high, his cane swinging, his eyes blinking. And what was he discoursing with a willing companion? Perhaps he was quoting at length from his beloved Jane Austin; perhaps he was reciting a poem by Leopardi or Heine or pointing up an idea in a letter of William James or Robert Louis Stevenson; perhaps he was listening attentively to his friend. Rarely contentious, he quietly supported his credo.
Charles King Barry was little interested in the affairs of organization or administration, little concerned with position or honors. He cared not all to possess things and for one who loved so intensely beauty in art, nature and man, he was strangely content to hold all in the “mind’s eye”. He shared his love of beauty freely with students and colleagues; his sensitive response to great music superbly performed occasionally overflowed in a “Bravo” which in those days broke the staid concert conventions of Warner Hall.
Charles King Barry seemed to have leisure to spare for friendships, which he kept continually blossoming by the warm, responsive giving of himself. Such genuine interest in others brought forth generous returns. His Florida residence in retirement was the gift of a colleague; other friends lent him their eyes when his own could no longer summon his favorite authors. In these later years his weekly schedule included an evening of Brahms, another Beethoven, another of bridge, his revised version of the “Three B s”. His days were apparently never lonely, only “wondrous free”. Very few of his colleagues of the nineties remain, and none has been more loyal and faithful servant of Oberlin.
James H Hall ‘14
Emeritus Professor of History and Music
Oberlin College and Conservatory
October 11, 1958
"I do not deplore all modern music or most of it and I do not question its right to flourish alongside the classics. But for me there must be shape and form in music, as well as meaning and depth. And I do not find these qualities in much contemporary music"
"I listened to Stravinsky's opera "The Rake's Progress" when it was broadcast. There was a great deal that was new and clever in it - but then I thought about Wagner's profound operas and "The Rake" seemed like child's play.
Professor Charles K Barry
Sponsored by Ancestry