Rice, Fenelon B.



American musician, prominent as the director of the Oberlin (Ohio) Conservatory of Music. Was born in Greensburg, Ohio, and received his early musical education at home. From the age of twenty he studied in Boston under Tufts, Bruce, and Baker, and while there held a position as organist for several years. Returning to the West, he became musical director at Hillsdale College, Michigan, a position he held until 1867, when he went to Europe with his wife, also a musician, and studied at the Leipsic Conservatory under Papperitz, Moscheles, Richter and Plaidy. In 1869 he returned to this country, and two years later assumed the duties of the position in which he remained for the rest of his life, and in which he did more, perhaps, than any other one man, to bring the reputation of the Conservatory to its present high standard. As is well known, Oberlin Conservatory compares favorably with the best musical institutions of the world. When Professor Rice connected himself with it he found the moral and religious standard already very high, and found also a public " open to conviction," a fertile soil for the seeds of a higher musical art. W. S. B. Mathews has said of the comprehensive nature of his work there: "Though sacred music received some special attention, the aim was not so much to cultivate religious music as to cultivate all noble music religiously."


Dr. Rice received the degree of Master of Arts from Oberlin College, and that of Doctor of Music from Hillsdale College, where he received his early general education. He was at one time president of the National Music Teachers' Association, and prepared many important papers for that body and other organizations. He was universally esteemed both as a man and as a musician.