Index of Memorial Resolutions and Biographical Sketches

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“She still had an amazing amount of energy for life and for teaching. She cared passionately about each of her students and was not interested in retirement because she loved what she did.” This quote by University of Texas at Austin professor of voice Rose Taylor typifies the extraordinary person of Martha Deatherage, whose soprano voice graced the University for more than half a century. Martha fought a brave and spirited battle with leukemia for three years. She passed away comfortably in her sleep surrounded by family and the loving thoughts of her friends, on May 5, 2003. “She was our beautiful Joan of Arc, an artist and a great teacher and a champion of all that we hold dearly,” said Danielle Martin, UT professor of piano. The flags on the South Mall of the University of Texas were lowered to half-staff on May 20, 2003, in honor of the memory of Professor Deatherage.

Martha Martin Deatherage was born in Parsons, Kansas, May 12, 1930. She received an associate of arts degree from Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, in 1950; a bachelor of music with honors from The University of Texas in 1950; and a master of music from UT in 1953. She studied privately with Paul Ulanowsky in Chicago, Madame Lotte Lehmann at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, and Dame Maggie Teyte in London.

Her professional career began in radio and television in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1954, she was soprano soloist for a weekly CBS series for the Municipal Opera of St. Louis. Operatic highlights from a repertoire of 14 operas included the title role in “Tosca” at the St. Louis Grand Opera under the direction of Edwin MacArthur, and the title role in “Fidelio” at the University of California at Los Angeles. Other professional highlights included regular engagements at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel in Chicago, St. John’s Methodist Church in St. Louis, and Wilshire Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles. In a performing career that spanned 50 years, Martha’s recitals included over 50 concerts with piano and more than 25 concerts with orchestra.

During her career, she received numerous professional honors and awards, including the Artist Award of the National Federation of Music Clubs, the Dealy Competition in Voice (Dallas), Who’s Who in American Women, 1000 Women of Distinction, Who’s Who in the South and Southwest, the International Who’s Who in Music, and Who’s Who in Education. She held membership in several professional and honorary organizations, including Pi Kappa Lambda, Sigma Alpha Iota (Sword of Honor), Music Teachers National Association, American Association of University Professors, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, where she served as district governor in 1973.

She was frequently called on to judge various competitions, including the Metropolitan Opera Midwest and North Central Regional Auditions, and many National Association of Teachers of Singing Regional Auditions. She offered master classes in Texas, New York, Illinois, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi.

In 1953-1954 Martha was an associate instructor at The University of Texas; 1954-1958 instructor of voice at Monticello College, Alton, Illinois; 1958-1959 voice instructor at the University of Chicago; and in 1961 returned to The University of Texas until her passing in 2003. Her students have been national winners in contests sponsored by the Metropolitan Opera and the National Association of Teachers of Singing, and her pupils performed in the Metropolitan Opera Company in New York as well as Graz, Austria, Augsberg, Germany, and the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich, Germany.

Martha actively participated in campus life at the University and community life in Austin, serving on numerous faculty committees, and working with other departments and local organizations to present concerts, programs, and lectures on topics ranging from women composers to Charles Ives. She served for many years on The University of Texas Roy Crane Award for Creativity in the Arts committee and the Fulbright Award Selection Committee. In one of her last projects, in 2002 she collaborated with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England to provide musical examples of the Hanoverian Period for the museum’s new British wing. The catalyst for this was her independent research into the music of Vauxhall Gardens in the reign of George III.


Larry R. Faulkner, President
The University of Texas at Austin


John R. Durbin, Secretary
The General Faculty

This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors Robert A. DeSimone (Chair), Danielle A. Martin, and David A. Small.