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.