University of Michigan
News for Faculty and Staff

June 25, 2017

Obituary: Leslie Raymond Bassett

February 10, 2016

Obituary: Leslie Raymond Bassett

Topic: Obituaries

Leslie Raymond Bassett, the Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Music, died Feb. 4 at his residence in Oakwood, Georgia. He was 93 years old.

Memorial services are scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 13, at McEver Road United Methodist Church in Oakwood, Georgia. The Rev. Rob Bruce will officiate. The family will receive friends from 3-5 p.m. after the service at the church.

Bassett was born Jan. 22, 1923, in Hanford, California, to the late Archibald Leslie Bassett and Vera Vesta Starr Bassett. He was a WWII veteran and retired from a lengthy and distinguished career as a professor of music composition at the University of Michigan. 

Bassett was the University of Michigan’s Albert A. Stanley Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Music and was the 1984 Henry Russel Lecturer, the University’s highest faculty honor. He has received the Distinguished Artist Award from the State of Michigan; was named Distinguished Alumnus by his California alma mater, Fresno State, and by U-M’s School of Music. 

He was awarded the major composer award and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and has twice been the composer-in-residence at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center. He received the 1966 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his “Variations for Orchestra,” premiered in Rome in 1963, followed two years later by its United States premier by the Philadelphia Orchestra under conductor Eugene Ormandy. He was a prolific composer with works widely performed and recorded by orchestras, bands, choirs and various ensembles and soloists throughout the United States and abroad.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his son Ralph Earle Bassett; and his brother, Earle Leonard Bassett.

Bassett is survived by his loving wife of 66 years, Anita Denniston Bassett of Oakwood; daughter and son-in-law, Wendy Bratton Baker and R. Richard Baker III of Gainesville; son and daughter-in-law, Noel Leslie and Elizabeth Johnson Bassett of Orchard Park, New York; grandchildren, Laura Bratton Ammons (Rick) and Kevin Lee Bratton (Amy) and great-grandchildren, Madison & Gracen Ammons and Charlie Bratton.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Leslie Bassett Scholarship Fund for Music Composition Masters students at the University of Michigan, School of Music, Theatre & Dance. Checks should be sent to:

The Leslie Bassett Scholarship Fund
SMTD Development Office
2005 Baits Drive
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2035

— Submitted by Noel Bassett and Wendy Bratton Baker