Ronald Cross, the Kurt and Auguste Riemann Professor of Music at Wagner College, died at home on February 21, 2013, just a few days after his 84th birthday.
A professor at Wagner from 1968 until the day of his death, Dr. Cross influenced generations of music students. “He had the wonderful ability to make the complexities of music interesting to the uninitiated, and interspersed theory and analysis with amusing anecdotes about composers, as well as his personal experiences as a performer,” said Jeff Dailey ’80, president of the New York City chapter of the American Musicological Society.
Cross was a scholar of many types of music, ranging from the Renaissance to Bach to Romantic opera to American music to non-Western music. He earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from New York University. He was a Fulbright Scholar and authored the definitive catalogue of the works of Flemish composer Matthaeus Pipelare.
He was also, in Dailey’s words, “an amazing performer,” especially on the organ and harpsichord, and on the viola da gamba and other early instruments as well. During the 1980s, he directed the Collegium Musicum Wagneriensis and its well-known Halloween concerts, Music from the Court of Vlad the Impaler (Prince Dracula).
He regularly took his students, and also Wagner faculty from other departments, to concerts all over New York City. Biology Professor Ammini Moorthy remembered him as “a soft-spoken, perfect gentleman with a boyish grin who was a scholar, a teacher, and a great human being.”