Remembering NEC Faculty Member Lyle Davidson ‘62, ‘64 MM

A member of NEC's faculty for more than 50 years, alumnus Lyle Davidson was a revered and accomplished composer, educator, and researcher whose legacy will continue for decades.

Lyle Davidson at NEC Commencement

NEC mourns the loss of beloved faculty member, alumnus, and accomplished composer and researcher Lyle Davidson ‘62, ‘64 MM, who passed away on May 12.

A part of NEC’s faculty since 1966, Davidson taught classes in both Music Theory and Music-in-Education in the College, working with literally thousands of students in solfege and 16th-century counterpoint. In addition, he served as chair of the School of Continuing Education (SCE) Theory & Composition Department, and taught theory classes in the Preparatory School.

Davidson received both his bachelor’s and master’s music degrees in composition at NEC; following his NEC studies, he was a University Scholar in psychology at Boston University.

During his robust career, Davidson conducted important research in music and cognition, pedagogy, and assessment. As Director of Research at the Lincoln Center Institute in New York, he worked on arts intensification in public schools. For 15 years he was on staff at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Project Zero, where he directed the music group in several studies spanning early childhood and adult development, portfolio assessment, and learning in the arts. Davidson also lectured widely in the U.S., Europe, China, and Australia on musical development, cognition, and assessment in the arts. He published on the development of musical ability across a wide span of ages, including studies of preschoolers’ singing and assessment of the impact of musical training on cognitive development in music. Davidson composed works for the Ina Hahn Dance Company, Houghton Mifflin’s educational films division, and Dance Circle. His choral, band, chamber, solo, and electronic works are published by E.C. Schirmer.

In addition to Davidson’s time as faculty at NEC and Harvard, he also taught at the Eastman School of Music, MIT, and Central Conservatory in Beijing. He was also a founding member of the Conservatory Laboratory Charter School. In honor of his teaching at NEC, Davidson received the Conservatory’s Louis and Adrienne Krasner Teaching Excellence Award at NEC’s 2008 Commencement.

Tom Novak, Provost and Vice President of NEC, said of Davidson, "Lyle has been a fixture at NEC for six decades, someone who completely immersed himself in the daily life of the Conservatory. He was a lifelong learner, always eager to share his insights and mentor students and faculty alike. The care that he showed the entire community over such an extended tenure will be felt for many years to come, and his presence will be deeply missed."

In lieu of flowers, donations may be directed to: The Lyle Davidson Memorial Fund at New England Conservatory, Attn. Hilary Wirtz, 290 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 or