The Legacy of R. Bedford Watkins

The expansive collection of musical compositions by retired professor R. Bedford Watkins is now catalogued and available for use at IWU’s Archives & Special Collections.

R. Bedford Watkins, an exceptional keyboardist, composer, and educator, was a prominent faculty member of IWU’s School of Music from 1956 to 1988. He earned a bachelor of music degree from Rhodes College, a master of music degree from the University of Michigan, and a doctorate from the University of Iowa. He created an impressive portfolio of compositions throughout his decades as a musician, which he donated to the University in 2019.

Watkins was prolific: his collection contains dozens of compositions, ranging from fantasies for cello to large orchestral works. His modern writing style continually questions traditional harmonic practices by embracing atonal structures. In addition to the vast collection of handwritten and original copies of his compositions, Watkins writing, correspondence, and even poetry is included. Recordings of his works are digitally available from a link to his online archive catalog. Watkins even donated his own harpsichord to the university, which can now be found at the School of Music.

Digitized time capsule selections

In a previous post, I described the time capsule traditions on IWU’s campus through the years. In the summer of 2011 we removed one capsule from Sheean Library and opened it during Homecoming that fall. Inside was a reel-to-reel tape recording of School of Music student and faculty performances.

We were able to reformat the tape into individual digital files and the mp3s resulting from that project have been added to our streaming server. All 14 recordings are now available via one link that points to the home for these digitized recordings in the IWU Historical Collections interface.