Howard T. Glasser Biography

About Howard T. Glasser

For nearly 40 years Howard T. Glasser arranged informal gatherings, concerts and the festivals of traditional music on three college campuses. Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1930, he grew to become an avid folk music enthusiast, just in time for the folk revival of the early 1960s. Howard Glasser taught part time at Cooper Union, and then full time at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, where he was an instructor in art from 1961-1968. The latter provided the setting and inspiration for his informal Ceilidhs (pronounced Kay-Lees); a Ceilidh is defined as a gathering or party to make music. He was fresh from a 3-month sojourn through Scotland where he collected recordings and interviewed local musicians who performed traditional songs for their own entertainment at informal family and community gatherings. Under the auspices of the Carnegie Celidhl Folk Song Society and the Pittsburgh Folklore Society, Howard produced a series of annual concerts featuring the likes of Pete Seeger, Arthur Argo and Frank Warner. When he left Carnegie in 1968 for the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI, Howard introduced Ceilidhs to a new audience. In Rhode Island they were held once a month. In 1970 Howard started teaching design at Southeastern Massachusetts University (SMU) in Dartmouth, Massachusetts (now UMass Dartmouth), where he took the tradition. The weekly Ceilidhs grew into the Eisteddfod Festival of Traditional Music in 1972. “Eisteddfod” is a Welsh word translated as a “coming together and sitting down of bards and minstrels.” Under Glasser’s guidance the SMU Eisteddfod flourished for 24 years on this campus, and in addition to a series of evening and afternoon concerts on each of the two or three days festivals, it included workshops, exhibitions, seminars and craft vendors and craft demonstrations.

By profession, Howard Glasser was an internationally-renowned graphic artist, calligrapher and teacher. His striking art infused the folk music ephemera, where he lent his skill to creating posters, logos, programs, advertisements, tickets, and banners. He spent 30 years of his career at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth before retiring in 2001. He died in 2017.

For more information, see

"Howard Glasser:  preserving art and tradition," by David A. Warren, The Torch, April 30, 1982.

A conversation with Howard T. Glasser, Eisteddfod guru," by Maeve Hickok, 1991 Eisteddfod Festival program.