Music professor, violinist dies

Members of the UNC music department are mourning the sudden death of a UNC music professor and violinist.

Richard Luby died unexpectedly, and details about the death are unknown, said Tonu Kalam, a music professor in the department, who heard of his death Tuesday.

Mark Katz, chairman of the music department, said he had received emails from Luby as recently as late Monday night.

“He was not sick at all,” Katz said on Tuesday. “We were supposed to meet tomorrow.”

A memorial will be held in Hill Hall Auditorium at 1 p.m. Friday.

Luby had spent 34 years in UNC’s music department, where he was hired in 1979. He was assistant chairman of the department and worked with students on the violin, which he played professionally.

Students and colleagues described Luby as a kind and warm-hearted person, always lending a hand wherever he was needed.

“He was a very generous soul, somebody who was willing to give up his time and knowledge and energy,” Kalam said.

“He was always as helpful as he could be, committed to building a very strong string program here.”

Katz said Luby’s dedication to his students had a huge impact on the music department’s performance program, which he worked to build up over the years.

“He brought it up to the high caliber that it is now,” Katz said.

“He recruited students that were so good they could have gone to any of the best (music) conservatories, but they came here — to a liberal arts department — because of him.”

Kalam said Luby seemed to work seven days a week, with both students from UNC and elsewhere. He said it was a rare occasion that Luby would turn down something that was asked of him.

“I would often be in on the weekends and I would see him in Hill Hall just listening to a student,” Katz said.

“He was just so dedicated as a teacher — just cared very deeply about his students and pushed hard for them.”

Sophomore Taylor Draper, a music student and recording technician for the department, said she would often record Luby, either working alone or with a student.

“It was so entertaining to watch him play, because he wasn’t just like any other performer,” she said.

“Even if it was just a normal piece of music, he would make it extraordinary.”

Sophomore Charlotte Jackson, a vocal performance major, said working with Luby inspired her to stay loyal to her music.

“It was just a really beautiful thing to see — he just loved so much to do exactly what he was doing,” Jackson said.

“I don’t think he could have been any more fulfilled.”

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