Now That’s Musicology

Here’s an author’s query for you. One of Robert Ashley’s biggest influences in college was a piano teacher named Mary S. Fishburne. She was listed, with an M. Mus., as Assistant Professor of Music in the Univ. of Michigan catalogue from 1949 to 1956, at which point she vanishes from history. I can’t find any details about her. If anyone (among my older readers, presumably) has heard of her and has any idea what happened to her, I’d love to hear about it.

I spent much of last week in Ann Arbor researching Ashley’s early life, doing a kind of musicology I’ve never done before. The best document I found was the obituary for Ashley’s father, in the Ann Arbor News. Ward Ashley dropped dead of a heart attack in 1950, aged 66, in the very post office in which he had worked since 1900. The News stated that he had never missed a day’s work in fifty years.


  1. Bob Gilmore says

    Bill Brooks is the kind of guy who knows that kind of stuff, or knows how to find out. Email him at the University of York. On a good day, he’s mindblowing.
    Prediction: you’ll get some leads pretty soon.
    KG replies: Well, all roads do seem to lead to Bill Brooks. I’ll give him a try.

  2. Joseph L. says

    Did you find the Bank? And the wall in Empire?
    KG replies: I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I did think of looking for the ball-bearing factory, but didn’t really have time.

  3. peter says

    Kyle —
    Some google searching threw up the following references, which you may have already found.
    There seems to be a reference to her here, indicating she was a faculty member at Mary Baldwin College, in Staunton, VA in 1935:
    This says she had attended Coker College, the New England Conservatory of Music, Harvard University (as a grad student), and u. Michigan, and that she gave a piano recital on 22 November 1934.
    A recital of 23 November 1934 (the same one?) is reviewed here (search on “Fishburne”), and that she accompanied recitals by other artists:
    Also, she appears to have corresponded with the pianist John Henry Powell, as per the University of Virginia archive of his papers, here:
    KG replies: No, I hadn’t found those. Thanks for the help.

  4. says

    Wow, another post office father! Poet Charles Olson’s dad spent a career in the postal service. My father did too. That was before “going postal” was all the rage. I wonder if Bob’s father encouraged him to collect stamps like mine did.