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Donald Hunsberger Obituary

Contributed by James Ripley


It is with a sense of tremendous loss, and great respect, that we join the world in mourning the loss of Donald Hunsberger, the illustrious conductor of the Eastman Wind Ensemble from 1965 to 2002, Don passed away on Sunday, November 5, 2023, at the age of 91. The world of wind music has lost one of its most revered pillars, and those who knew him have lost a cherished friend and mentor.



As written by the Eastman School website: Don Hunsberger’s legacy in the realm of wind ensembles and conducting is unparalleled. His decades of dedication and innovation have left an indelible mark on the field. Under his leadership, the Eastman Wind Ensemble achieved unprecedented levels of excellence, inspiring countless young musicians and conductors to pursue their passions in the world of wind music. Don’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of musical expression through wind instruments was nothing short of extraordinary.

While Don’s professional accomplishments were nothing short of remarkable, his personal qualities endeared him to colleagues and students alike. He was not only a world-renowned conductor but also a warm, approachable, and caring individual. He built lasting friendships and served as a mentor to generations of students who sought to follow in his footsteps.


Don's connection to WASBE was strong and of great importance. A charter member of the association, he followed carefully its proceedings and advancements. Much of his scholarly work, editions and transcriptions would be staples for study and performance throughout the world. His advancement of the wind ensemble as a medium of serious artistic merit is a cornerstone of the WASBE mission. He directly promoted collaborative WASBE sessions with the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Eastman Wind Ensemble in 2001, and was featured as one the "Three Icons" for the 2009 WASBE Conference in Cincinnati.

Again, from the Eastman notice: Donald Hunsberger’s passing leaves a profound void in the world of music and education, but his influence and contributions will resonate through the ages. He will be remembered not only for his musical prowess but also for his kindness, humility, and the countless lives he touched. His legacy will continue to inspire musicians and conductors for generations to come, ensuring that his spirit lives on in the music he so passionately embraced.

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