NNU mourns loss of music professor

Nampa, Idaho

Northwest Nazarene University Music Professor Walden Hughes passed away 26 March at the age of 64. He served the university for more than 40 years.

“It has been my privilege to count this truly unique individual as a friend and colleague for over 40 years,” said Barry Swanson, adjunct faculty member in the NNU music department. “He was a rare combination of intellect, curiosity, talent, perseverance, and humor. A great teacher, he built warm and lasting relationships with his students and they responded both to his high expectations and his warmth. As a colleague, he brought those same high expectations to the music department and made it a better place. He will be greatly missed.”

Hughes graduated from NNU with a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Piano and Music Theory in 1977. He earned a Master of Music in piano performance from the University of Idaho in 1979 and a Doctor of Arts in music history and literature and piano pedagogy from the University of Northern Colorado in 1992 — all while teaching at NNU. 

In 2006, he created the Walden Hughes Piano Scholarship for piano students who met general scholastic requirements and showed potential for academic success and degree completion.

Hughes has composed 100 piano ensemble scores and was commissioned to write works specifically for performance by Hvaler School of the Arts, Norway; Katholische Universitaet Eichstaett, Germany; Kipnis/Kushner Duo, New York; Santa Fe Guitar Quartet, Argentina; and the Louisiana Music Teacher’s Association 2004 state convention. 

His piano ensemble works have been performed in 65 countries, he recorded some of Bach’s work for professional redistribution, and he has written and published 40 original pieces for online audiences.

He also wrote 30 articles in professional journals across the world, 18 CD reviews for American Record Guide, 14 book reviews of new piano pedagogy and repertoire books, and 12 CD reviews for Clavier.

In 1995, Hughes was awarded the Master Teacher Certificate by the Music Teachers National Association, presented each year to only three music teachers in the United States.

Hughes had the unconventional distinction of working in the same office he was born in when the NNU Fine Arts building once served as Samaritan Hospital in the 1950s.

Hughes is survived by his wife, Monica, and their two children, Camden and Kendra.

The memorial service will take place 3 p.m. 2 April. NNU will host the service in the Swayne Auditorium of the Brandt Fine Arts & Convocation Center.

Prayer is requested for the Hughes family and NNU community.

--Northwest Nazarene University

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