Culture & Arts Obituary Society Top Story

Akin Euba, Father of African Pianism, dies at 84

The death has been announced of Professor Akin Euba, Nigerian classical composer, on Tuesday, 14th April 2020.

Professor Euba before his death was an Andrew W. Mellon Professor, Emeritus at the University of Pittsburgh, United States of America, having retired in 2011.

He is known as the ‘Father of African pianism’.

He was born in Lagos, Nigeria on April 28, 1935, where he spent his early years.


Prof.. Euba has been lecturer, visiting fellow, and external examiner at various universities in Africa and North America.

His first position as Lecturer at the University of Lagos in Nigeria extended from 1966-68.

From 1968-75, he was a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Ife in Nigeria.

He spent the Summer of 1969 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. Assignments as External Examiner involved both the University of Ife and Makerere University in Uganda.


Euba was a Professor at the University of Lagos from 1978-81.

He spent five years as a Research Scholar at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, from 1986-91.

Among other appointments, he was Director of the Center for Intercultural Music Arts in London, which he founded, in 1988.

His other assignments included:


External Examiner, University of Ghana, Legon (1992-94); Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Music Association (1992-94); Honorary Visiting Professor, Department of Music, City University, London (1993 (October) – 1996 (September)); Visiting Andrew Mellon Professor of Music, University of Pittsburgh (1993 (January) – 1996 (April)); Appointed by the Center for Black Music Research, Chicago, as a member of the Advisory Board for a Dictionary of Black Composers being published by the St. James’s Press (1994); Andrew Mellon Professor of Music, University of Pittsburgh (1996 (September)); External Examiner, University of Ghana, Legon (1996-97).

Euba spent the 2000-2001 academic year as an overseas fellow of Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

While at Cambridge he worked on a major new composition, Orunmila’s Voices: Songs from the Beginning of Time, a music drama for soloists, chanters, chorus, dancers and symphony orchestra, which received its world premiere in New Orleans on 23 February 2002, during the second annual international festival of African and African American music (FESAAM 2002).

During the spring semester of 2003, Dr Euba spent ten days in Toronto as a composer-in-residence with the Ensemble Noir, during which several of his works were performed, including three movements from Orunmila’s Voices, in new arrangements for various chamber ensembles.


Akin Euba was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh until he retired in the Spring of 2011. His fields were African Music, Composition and Piano Performance.

In recent years Euba moved away from general issues on world interculturalism (with which he has been involved since 1988) to focus on links between Africa and the Diaspora.

This new orientation was reflected in most of his recent and current projects, for example the international symposia and festivals on African pianism (Pittsburgh 1999) and on composition in Africa and the Diaspora (Cambridge 2001) which were organized by him.

During his stint at the University of Pittsburgh in 1993, Euba initiated a new project, entitled A Bridge Across: Intercultural Composition, Performance, Musicology, which was an extension of Euba’s London activities and wasdesigned to spotlight the works of composers, performers and musicologists through recitals, workshops, lectures, and residencies.

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