Larson, Founding Director of the National Music Museum, Passes Away at 74

Photo of Andre Larson André Larson, 74, was the founding director of the National Music Museum.

VERMILLION, S.D. – André Larson, founding director of the National Music Museum and professor emeritus of music at the University of South Dakota, died Thursday in Arvada, Colorado. He was 74.

Larson's son Nathan Larson said the family plans a private burial service in Vermillion next week. The family will work with the National Music Museum to plan a memorial to be held at a later time.

André Larson helped launch the National Music Museum at USD in 1973, based on a collection of 2,500 instruments gathered by his father Arne B. Larson. Today the world-renowned museum has a collection of 15,000 instruments, many of them housed in the former Carnegie Library on the USD campus.

André Larson was born in Littlefork, Minnesota, and earned a bachelor's degree in fine arts from USD in 1964. He received a master's degree from USD in 1968 and a Ph.D. in musicology from West Virginia University in 1972.

He returned to USD and established what was then called The Shrine to Music Museum with help from USD and the South Dakota Arts Council. He was the museum's first director, serving 38 years until his retirement in 2011.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 205 undergraduate and 73 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 17:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 17 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.