Francis McBeth, world-renowned composer, dies at 78 - Word&Way

Francis McBeth, world-renowned composer, dies at 78

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (ABP) — W. Francis McBeth, an internationally acclaimed composer and conductor and longtime professor of music at Ouachita Baptist University, died Friday, Jan. 6, at age 78.


Francis McBeth

McBeth, who earned extensive accolades throughout his career, served as Ouachita’s composer-in-residence, Lena Goodwin Trimble Professor of Music and chair of the theory/composition department of the Division of Music. He also served as conductor of the Arkansas Symphony and as Arkansas’ composer laureate, the first composer laureate named in the United States.

McBeth’s compositions include works for all media, but he was most influential in the development of the literature for wind symphony.

“How blessed we have been to have Dr. McBeth invest his life and work at Ouachita,” said Ouachita President Rex Horne. “This was the center for his creative work.”

Among his many accomplishments, McBeth was a recipient of an American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Special Award annually for more than 30 consecutive years. He also received the Howard Hanson Prize of the Eastman School of Music for his “Third Symphony,” the American School Band Directors Association’s Edwin Franko Goldman Award in 1983, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia’s American Man of Music in 1988, Kappa Kappa Psi’s National Service to Music Award in 1989, the Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic’s Medal of Honor in 1993 and the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Medal of Honor in 2000.


Trennis Henderson is vice president for communications at Ouachita Baptist University.