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Lutkin, Peter Christian, 1858-1931



  • Existence: 1858 - 1931


Peter Christian Lutkin was born on March 27, 1858 in Thompsonville, Wisconsin. Lutkin was a member of the faculty of Northwestern University's Conservatory of Music and played a role in restoring the Conservatory and bringing it into the College of Arts and Sciences. Lutkin later served as Dean of the School of Music when it was formed. Peter Christian Lutkin died on December 27, 1931.

His parents, Peter Christian and Hannah Susanna Define (Olivarius) Lutkin, had emigrated to the United States from Denmark in 1844. They moved to Racine, Wisconsin, a year after Peter was born and then to Chicago when he was five years old. He attended Chicago Public Schools until the age of 13 when both of his parents died. He had already been the organist for daily services and occasionally for Sunday services at St. Peter and St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Chicago and at the age of 14 he became the chief organist. He had also been a member of the church choir since the age of 9.

In 1871 he began his first formal training in music, studying organ with Clarence Eddy, piano with Regina Watson and theory with Frederick Grant Gleason in Chicago. He joined the faculty of Northwestern University's Conservatory of Music in 1879 as an Instructor in Piano. In 1881 he went to Berlin for further study with Oscar Ralf for piano, August Haupt for organ and Waldemar Bargiel for composition. A year later he was the only foreigner admitted to the musical department of the Royal Academy of Arts in Berlin. While in Europe he also studied piano and composition with Theodore Leschetitzky in Vienna and with Moritz Moszkowsky in Paris.

Upon his return to Chicago he became choirmaster and organist at St. Clement's Protestant Episcopal Church and later served in the same capacity at St. James Episcopal Church. In 1888 he became director of the Theoretical Department of the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.

In 1891 he came to Northwestern's Conservatory of Music for the second time. Upon his return, the Conservatory was facing discontinuance. Cornelia Gray Lunt, daughter of Northwestern founder Orrington Lunt and an influence in the Northwestern Community in her own right, recommended Lutkin as an individual who was sufficiently talented to salvage the study of music at the University. He immediately began work on restoring the Conservatory to its former prominence, and in 1892 it became a department of the College of Liberal Arts. Its courses were modeled after the German conservatories; all students were required to take the same theoretical studies so that they could attain a comprehensive knowledge of music. Lutkin was a Professor of Music when, in 1895, a separate School of Music was formed and he was appointed Dean. He remained in that position until he became Dean Emeritus in 1928. He also served as Professor of Theory, Piano, Organ and Composition in the School of Music, 1895-1931; Director of the School's Department of Church and Choral Music, 1926-1928; and Lecturer in Church Music at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary.

Lutkin's major interest was church and choral music. This is evidenced by his many activities. At Northwestern he founded the Women's Cecilian Choir and the men's Glee Club. He brought national fame to the School of Music by organizing the A Cappella Choir in 1906, the first permanent organization of its kind in America. He composed music for organ and piano, but specialized in unaccompanied vocal music, written mainly for use by the Northwestern choir.

Lutkin's strong interest in church music led him to compose many hymns, especial for use in Episcopal Church services. With Karl Harrington he was co-editor of the official Methodist Hymnal and was also musical editor of the Methodist Sunday School Hymnal. Several of Lutkin's own compositions were included in these hymnals.

Lutkin also served as a director of the Evanston Musical Club from 1894 to 1915, and the Ravenswood Musical Club from 1896 to 1904. He was a founder of the American Guild of Organists in 1896 and twice served as president of the Music Teachers' National Association, 1911-1912 and 1919-1920. One of Lutkin's most notable accomplishments was the role he played in organizing the North Shore Music Festival. The festival began in 1910 and became internationally known under Lutkin's direction.

Lutkin received an honorary doctorate in music in 1901 from Syracuse University. Among the books he wrote was Music in the Church (1910). He also wrote a history of the Northwestern School of Music.

Lutkin married Nancy Lelah Carmen on October 27, 1885. The Lutkins had one son, Harris Carmen Lutkin, who attended and later taught at Northwestern's Law School.

Peter Christian Lutkin died on December 27, 1931 following a two-week illness after suffering a severe heart attack. He was buried in Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

Found in 3 Collections and/or Records:

Cornelia Gray Lunt (1843-1934) Papers

Identifier: 1/11
Abstract The Cornelia Gray Lunt Papers include a variety of scattered miscellaneous materials from 1866 to 1964. They are arranged in four main categories including biographical materials, correspondence, writings, and bound volumes. The bound volumes include descriptions of her travels in Europe and the Middle East. In addition she often transcribed letters to and from herself in her journals. The fifth volume includes an undated fictional piece entitled, “Romance, One Winter. The History of a...
Dates: 1866-1964

Peter Christian Lutkin (1858-1931) Papers

Identifier: 19/1/1
Abstract Peter Christian Lutkin was a member of the faculty of Northwestern University's Conservatory of Music and played a role in restoring the Conservatory, and bringing it into the College of Arts and Sciences. Lutkin later served as Dean of the School of Music. The Lutkin Papers include biographical material, some correspondence and several lectures and addresses that span the years 1889-1928. The biographical material (1859-1971) includes general material, i.e. memorabilia, and miscellaneous...
Dates: 1889-1971

Peter Christian Lutkin music manuscripts and papers

Identifier: Lutkin

A collection of predominantly music manuscripts and scores with some papers by composer and former Northwestern University School of Music dean, Peter Christian Lutkin.

Dates: 1889 - 1946