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The Art and Science of Great Teaching: Celebrating the Legacy of William Vennard

A one-day symposium made possible by a USC Libraries Dean’s Challenge Grant and cosponsored by the Thornton School of Music.


“Philharmonic, Chorale to Give B Minor Mass”
Los Angeles Times, December 15, 1958
L-R: Roger Wagner, Eva Gustavson, Richard Robinson, Charmion Ward, William Vennard


(b Normal, IL, Jan 31, 1909; d Los Angeles, Jan 10, 1971). American singer and voice science researcher. He studied English at Taylor University, Upland, IN (AB 1930) and music at Northwestern University, Evanston, IL (BM 1941) and at the American Conservatory, Chicago (MM 1943). After teaching at the Chicago Evangelistic Institute, DePaul University and the American Conservatory, he became a member of the faculty of music at the University of Southern California (1946), chairing its voice department (1950–71). Among the associations to which he belonged are the National Association of Teachers of Singing, which he served in several capacities, including national president. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Pepperdine University College, Malibu, CA in recognition of his outstanding contributions to singing and the science of singing (1970).

As a singer, Vennard was active in opera, oratorio and solo song; as a teacher of singing, his students, among them Marilyn Horne, achieved worldwide success. His renowned text, Singing, the Mechanism and the Technique, is a constant resource for teachers and researchers alike. Vennard’s collaboration with Janwillen van den Berg resulted in his film Voice Production: the Vibrating Larynx. Winning several awards, including best medical research film from a festival in Prague in 1960, it shows the anatomy and physiology of voice production in the excised larynx. He was a pioneer in the science of singing and in voice pedagogy and was instrumental in fostering collaborative efforts between singers, physicists, psychologists and voice scientists.

Cleveland, Tom. "Vennard, William." Grove Music Online.


Related Resources

  • "Vennard to Give Concert." Los Angeles Times. December 8, 1946.
  • "SC Man Gets Bid to Paris." Los Angeles Times. October 6, 1957.
  • Arlen, Walter. "Vennard Demonstrates Artistry and Taste." Los Angeles Times. November 11, 1958.
  • "Laryngeal Singing Function Studied in New Sound Film" Music of The West. October, 1960.
  • Goldberg, Albert. "Things that a Critic Finds while Cleaning Up His Desk." Los Angeles Times. September 02, 1962.
  • -----. "Season's Opera Critics in Good Voice." Los Angeles Times. December 8, 1963.
  • Mayer, Martin. "Marilyn Horne Becomes a Prima Donna." New York Times. January 17, 1971.
  • "Memorial Service Set for Vennard." Los Angeles Times. January 20, 1971.
  • Trump, Karl. "In Memoriam: William D. Vennard." NATS Bulletin, February/March 1971.

Selected dissertations about/including Vennard -- a search for his name on ProQuest Dissertations & Theses currently returns over 240 results

See also: