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Richard E. Rainwater Leaves $5 Million for the Study, Creation and Performance of American Music at UT Austin

A newly established $5 million endowment will advance the study at UT Austin of music produced by Americans — from roots to jazz to film music to the concert hall. 

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Thomas Meredith

AUSTIN, Texas — A newly established $5 million endowment will advance the study of music produced by Americans — from roots to jazz to film music to the concert hall — at The University of Texas at Austin. The gift significantly enhances the Butler School of Music’s capacity to be a fulcrum of research, study and practice of American music past, present and future.

UT alumnus Richard E. Rainwater (B.A., Mathematics, 1966), a Fort Worth investor and fund adviser, left $5 million in his charitable trust to The University of Texas at Austin to be used for the teaching, scholarship and performance of American music. After Rainwater’s death in September 2015, the Richard E. Rainwater Fund for American Music formed in accordance with his wishes to support UT’s Butler School of Music.

“This generation of Butler School students and faculty — and all those to come — are so fortunate to be the beneficiaries of Mr. Rainwater’s incredible foresight and generosity,” says Mary Ellen Poole, director of the Butler School of Music. “He recognized our strengths and wanted to help us become even stronger.”

The endowment is expected to provide $250,000 annually in funds that will, among other commitments, expand the scholarly activities of the Center for American Music, support travel and program assistance for ensembles whose repertory is drawn primarily from the Americas, and bring the most inventive and diverse American composers to campus.

The newly created Rainwater Innovation Grants will have the most immediate impact on students. As early as this spring, both undergraduate and graduate students will be able to propose initiatives aimed at challenging the usual way of doing things by reaching unexpected audiences, thus advancing the field of music in a provocative and productive way.

“American music — whether jazz, musicals, bluegrass or mariachi — reflects our rich, diverse cultural history. Music is an enormous part of what makes us uniquely American,” said College of Fine Arts Dean Doug Dempster. “This generous gift allows us to offer even more opportunities to students in our college who study and perform American music. It will expose them to world-class visiting artists and allow them to perform and interact with fellow musicians and scholars around the world.”

To learn more about the Butler School of Music, please visit music.utexas.edu.