The sounds of worship
Organ professor Emmet Smith awarded honorary doctorate.
by Kathryn Hopper
Updated: Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Judy Olfke Smith and Emmet Smith
Emmet G. Smith '54 (MM), School of Music emeritus professor, received an honorary Doctor of Music degree during Commencment ceremonies last Saturday.
During Smith’s 45 years as professor of organ and church music at TCU, 18 of his students were awarded prestigious international scholarships for study abroad. Smith was also a Fulbright Scholar in Paris in 1956, a performer, master class teacher, organ consultant and lecturer for universities, conservatories and churches throughout the United States and Europe. This honor reflects Smith’s commitment to his students and teaching, his excellence in music performance, promoting the pipe organ in worship, and the passion he shares with TCU in “Learning to Change the World.” His former organ students hold positions throughout the United States, including the Naval Academy in Annapolis.
An active member of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) for 71 years, Smith served as dean of the Fort Worth Chapter, and has served as president of the Delta of Texas Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa. Smith distinguished himself as the Harold D. and Imogene Herndon Professor of Music and has been judged by many as one of the world’s outstanding organ teachers. His work has influenced organ students across the globe. For his own superior skills, he has received numerous honors, and has performed throughout the United States, as well as Luxembourg, Germany, and France, where he performed at Notre Dame Cathedral.
During his years at TCU, he educated and mentored some of the most talented organists in the country. Thirteen of his students were chosen as Fulbright Scholars for study abroad. In addition, his students won two Rotary International scholarships, two foreign government scholarships and one private foundation award for study abroad. Two of his students were admitted to the Chartres Competition. In 1964 he was the first TCU professor to organize and direct summer study in Europe, and returned with students every four years. He was chosen as a TCU Honors Professor and was recognized for his teaching with the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1985. He was named a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor of Texas, and was the recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.
He was known as a mentoring, protective and demanding professor. In tribute to 40 years of superb instruction and friendship, more than 75 of his former pupils returned to the TCU campus to honor him in 1991. Five years later they returned for his retirement from TCU, where Olivier Latry, Titular Organist at Notre Dame in Paris, France, honored him with a complimentary recital in Ed Landreth Auditorium at TCU. He has been married to Judy Olfke Smith '61 for 32 years.