Obituary of James Callahan
James Callahan passed away peacefully on December 28, 2023. He was born on January 15, 1942 in Fargo, North Dakota, to John and Margaret (nee Blenker) Callahan. Six months later the family moved to Albany, Minnesota. He graduated from St. John’s University (BA 1964) and the University of Minnesota (MFA 1967 and Ph.D. 1971). In the years following, Dr. Callahan spent a year at the Vienna Academy of Music studying piano, organ and composition, and four summers at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria.
Dr. Callahan taught piano, organ, music theory, composition, orchestration, and various other classes at the University of St. Thomas from 1968 until his retirement in 2006.
He was recipient of a number of awards and honors including an NEH grant in 1975, a Jerome Foundation grant for composition, a Bush Foundation Fellowship for Artists, 1984, and “An Die Musik” honors from the Schubert Club in 2010.
As an organist Dr. Callahan performed recitals in the Midwest, New York and Austria. As a pianist his repertoire included the five Beethoven piano concertos as well as repertoire ranging from Mozart to Messiaen. He partnered with his cousin Katherine Faricy to form a two-piano team performing a wide repertoire of two pianos, four-hand music as well as concertos.
He composed nearly two hundred compositions for piano, organ, orchestra, choirs, chamber ensembles and bands as well as two operas. He published works for both organ and chorus. His “Overture based on Mozart Themes” was performed by the Minnesota Orchestra, as well as other orchestras, and his “Concerto for Violin and Orchestra” was premiered by Hanley Daws and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
His retirement activities included work as a substitute organist, volunteer tour guide at the Cathedral of St. Paul, and a volunteer befriender for clients at The Center for Victims of Torture. He was Dean of the Twin Cities AGO for two years and served on board of the Schubert Club as well as various other boards.
A funeral service will be held on Saturday, January 27 at 11 AM at the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas on the campus of the University of St. Thomas. The service will include musical performances important to Jim, and a reception will follow. Burial will be at St. John’s Abbey Cemetery at a later date. Memorials may be directed to any of the organizations that Jim so loved and supported.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of James Callahan, please visit Tribute Store