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Southwestern University Library Receives The Gift Of Music

Stephen Aechternacht, formerly a host for KMFA radio in Austin, has decided to donate his CD collection to Southwestern University’s A. Frank Smith, Jr. Library Center.

The collection consists of approximately 12,000 CDs that will, over a span of years, more than triple the library’s recordings collection.

“Currently, we have about 3,000 recordings on compact disc,” says Dana Hendrix, head of collection development and acquisition for the Smith Library Center. “We estimate that Mr. Aechternacht’s donation will provide us about 10,000 additional recordings, including multiple recordings of individual works, which are valuable for comparison and study.”

A psychologist by training, Aechternacht is now an executive with a large healthcare organization. He has been involved with classical radio for 35 years, most of which has been on a volunteer basis.

“I ‘discovered’ classical music at age 13, and have been an ardent follower of the genre since then,” he says. Aechternacht also loves film music, jazz and electronica, and holds a healthy appreciation for rock, pop and country music. Until recently, he served on KMFA’s Board of Trustees, and produced two programs for them: “Symphony @ Seven” and “Film Score Focus.” He has retired from those activities, but “Film Score Focus” is continuing with a new producer and host (see www.kmfa.org for more information on the program).

Aechternacht was prompted to make his donation for several very personal reasons, but it was his brother-in-law, Wes Marshall ‘74, who suggested he donate the collection to Southwestern. “I knew that SU had a small CD library, and the purpose of my gift is to greatly expand that collection,” Aechternacht says.

Hendrix believes that Southwestern is very fortunate to have been chosen as the recipient of Aechternacht’s gift. “Because of his expertise as a music collector and his interest in varied genres, the collection is a rare gift,” she says.

The recordings being donated are mostly classical music, including some emphasis on modern composers that will fill a gap for the Smith Library Center. It also will include a significant number of film soundtracks.

“The collection will help meet the Music Department’s curriculum-related needs and will also provide leisure listening to a broad range of music aficionados on campus,” Hendrix says.

Aechternacht will be bringing groups of recordings from his collection to Southwestern as his time allows. So far, the Smith Library has received the first 60 CDs. The CDs will be available on the second floor of the library center in the Media Library and, as with other CDs, can be checked out for a week at a time. Listening equipment also is provided in the Media Library and the library’s study alcoves.

Hendrix believes that students taking many different music courses will find themselves using these recordings in their academic work in the coming years. “Time-lapse photography of our Media Library over the next several years would be fun to watch -there will be quite a complete transformation in there,” she says.

—Ben Woods ‘06