Les Paul – 2004
Wisconsin Foundation for School Music presented its first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award to Les Paul in 2004. Les returned to Wisconsin to receive the award and was celebrated by many, including musicians Steve Miller and Ben Sidran, State Superintendent Libby Burmaster, Governor Jim Doyle, and other music enthusiasts across the state.
Born June 9, 1915 in Waukesha, Wis., Les Paul has fostered a lifetime of musical achievements. His performing career began at the early age of 13 and by the 1950s, he was recognized as the greatest jazz guitarist of his generation. The Les Paul Trio, which included his talented wife Mary Ford, produced such hits as "Vaya Con Dios," "Mockin' Bird Hill," "How High the Moon" and "Tennessee Waltz."
As an inventor, Les Paul's breakthrough creation of the solid-body electric guitar paved the way for rock and roll. He also perfected the first multi-track recording machine, allowing separate lines of instrumental music and vocals to be blended together. His many recording innovations – including reverb effects, sound-on-sound, overdubbing and multi-tracking – have contributed immensely to the world of music.
Les Paul gave a donation of $25,000 to WFSM in 2007 for support of music education in Wisconsin. He is honored by WFSM at the Wisconsin Center for Music Education in the Les Paul Atrium.
Les Paul will always have a special place in our hearts, and we are forever grateful that we had the opportunity to know him, honor him and welcome him back to Wisconsin.
"When I got my first guitar my fingers wouldn't go to the sixth string so I took off the big E and played with just five strings. I was only 6 or 7."
"And there's a big bay window in my house, and that window stayed perfectly still until that train started to chug. At a certain speed, I could reach up and feel the pane, and that glass pane would vibrate. I said, Doggone, there's got to be a reason for this. So I go to the kindergarten teacher, and she takes me to the science teacher, and the science teacher takes me to the library and reads it off to me — "This is called resonance." That was the beginning."
Les Paul: American musician and innovator, regarded as the father of the electric guitar. Born Lester William Polsfus on June 9, 1915, he died on August 13, 2009.
Michael Leckrone – 2007
On Wednesday, November 14, 2007, Wisconsin Foundation for School Music (WFSM) presented its second-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Music to Mike Leckrone, UW-Madison Music Professor and Director of Bands.
Highlights of the evening included speeches from Dr. Grant Manhart, Dr. Frank Tracz, former UW athletic director Pat Richter, State Superintendent Elizabeth Burmaster, and Tom Wopat. Performances throughout the evening included UW band alumni, VSA arts of Wisconsin choir, and the UW Marching Band drum line. Katy Sai served as the evening's emcee. A special commemorative video was shown and a proclamation declaring November 14, 2007 "Mike Leckrone Day" in Wisconsin was read.
Mike Leckrone deserved this prestigious award because:
Marvin Rabin – 2011
On Saturday, May 21, 2011, Wisconsin Foundation for School Music (WFSM) presented its third-ever Lifetime Achievement Award in Music to Marvin Rabin, the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras founder and longtime music educator.
The events, a dinner and awards presentation, were held to honor the man who introduced symphony orchestral music to Wisconsin youth and continues to support music today in Wisconsin and throughout the world. Rabin, now 94, moved to Wisconsin at age 50, well after he began his career in music; yet his contribution to the state remains unforgettable.
Rabin was born in 1916 in Indiana, and grew up with the intention of becoming a history teacher. He graduated from the University of Kentucky with a degree in history and political science; yet soon music entered his life. Rabin is known most for his work with young people. One of the biggest ways in which he has made an impact is the founding WYSO. Rabin began the establishment of WYSO in 1966 after seeing a need for youth participation in music. He reached out to the community in a way that no one had done before, showing his desire to educate and motivate youth’s participation in music throughout Wisconsin.
Rabin has proved to be a musical inspiration throughout the state because he has encouraged countless youth, and adults, to pursue their musical aspirations. Wisconsin music would look nothing like it does today without Marvin Rabin. "I have know Marv as the immensely dedicated musician and educator that he remains to this day. He is a man with a quick mind, a joyous appreciation for music as an art form and for great performances of music – especially by young people," says UW composer John Stevens who premiered his commissioned piece titled "Fanfare for an Uncommon Man" (click to see video) to honor Rabin at a WYSO concert the day following his award presentation. Because of Rabin's vision, youth have a place to develop their skills and express themselves through orchestral arrangements.
Though Rabin has already received countless awards recognizing his work with both youth and adults from every end of Wisconsin, WFSM will establish an award in his name that will extend his legacy by benefiting young musicians on a continous basis.