Dr. Harold M. Dunn was born in Sacramento, California, and was raised in the San Francisco Bay area. He began his study of the violin at the age of eight. During his high school and college years, he had a highly successful record in track.
He received his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees from Occidental College. The history of jazz was his M.A. thesis topic. In 1974, he was awarded the Doctor of Musical Arts Degree by the University of Oregon in viola performance and music history. His dissertation topic was entitled “An Aesthetic Approach to Medieval Music”.
His first teaching experiences were conducting high school bands in Brea Linda, Torrance, and Monrovia-Duarte. He later taught choral music and conducted the orchestra at San Mateo High School for ten years, as well as coaching football and track.
In 1963, he came to Santa Barbara City College to teach band, orchestra, choir and classes in music appreciation and musicianship. In later years, Dr. Dunn taught classes in music history and literature, jazz history, appreciation and manuscript, and conducted the Camerata Choir of 140 voices. He also taught the art of calligraphy in the college’s Continuing Education Program.
The Associated Students of SBCC selected him for the Top Professor Award in 1965.
In 1975, Dr. Dunn was invited to bring his SBCC Choir to sing at the Western States Music Educators Convention in San Francisco. His choral groups performed, with the Santa Barbara Symphony, Handel’s Messiah, Verdi’s Requiem and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. His students sang major choral works of such composers as Mozart, Brahms, Honegger, Orff and Puccini. In Spring 1982, the Camerata Choir gave the complete performance of the great B Minor Mass of Bach.
During his long and distinguished career at Santa Barbara City College, Dr. Dunn produced many major vocal productions which have received critical acclaim, including the great B Minor Mass of J.S. Bach, mentioned above, Amal and the Night Visitors, Carmina Burana, and the Verdi Requiem. His final performance prior to his retirement was Honneger’s King David.
He served as chairman of the Music Department from 1963 to 1976. Also, as chairman of the Fine Arts Division for 10 years, Dr. Dunn was actively involved in the planning of the new Drama/ Music Complex, and the James R. Garvin Memorial Theatre. He was particularly concerned that the beauty of the natural setting of the building be incorporated into the architect’s plans.
Selected by colleagues and students as the Faculty Lecturer of the Year in 1982, Dr. Dunn spoke on “Aesthetic Poverty in an Affluent Society”.
His faculty responsibilities included membership on the Representative Council of the Academic Senate, chairmanship of the Committee on Instructional Reorganization, and on the Committee for General Education Requirements.
Serving music education more broadly, Dr. Dunn served on the Board of the Southern California Music Educators Conference. In 1964, he organized a state convention on the SBCC campus for all California music educators.
As of June, 1983, Dr. Dunn officially retired, but continued at the College as part-time instructor.
Dr. Dunn was a member of the Santa Barbara Musicians Union, and a member of the Santa Barbara Symphony for many years. He was married to the former Phyllis Magnuson, who enjoyed an outstanding career in music education in Berkeley, California.