By TaShia Hogue Contributing Writer Dr. Malcolm J. Breda, a professor emeritus of music at Xavier University, passed away on January 17, 2023, at theContinue Reading »

By TaShia Hogue
Contributing Writer

Dr. Malcolm J. Breda, a professor emeritus of music at Xavier University, passed away on January 17, 2023, at the age of 89.

Those who knew Breda, a native of Alexandria, La., say he was a man who left a beautiful trail of laughter and memories in the hearts of students, staff and loved ones.

In 1956, Breda graduated from Xavier and went on to become a celebrated alumnus. After teaching at other HBCUs, like Alabama A & M University, he earned his master’s degree at Indiana University in Bloomington and a doctorate degree in 1975 from the University of Southern Mississippi.

“He was [a] teacher and friend,” said Dr. John Ware, a professor of music at Xavier. This relationship extended beyond the walls of the music department,” Ware said.

During his 45 years of service at Xavier, he brought along top musicians like Danny Baker and Ellis Marsalis to further the school’s music credibility. He spent 20 of those years as chair of the music department. During this display of his work ethic and devotion to Xavier he used his platform to push the music department in the direction of becoming accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music which is still reflected in the curriculum and status of the department today.

“When Breda set his mind to do something, he did it,” Ware said of his colleague’s accomplishments at Xavier.

Breda organized annual tours, musical ensembles and choirs, and led a music delegation to Rome in 2000 for St. Katharine Drexel’s canonization. As an accomplished organist, he performed in many cathedrals.

“The department went on tour for 10 days, and Dr. Breda was with us. I sat at the front of the bus with him and the rest of the faculty, and I don’t remember ever having laughed so hard in my life,” recalled Dr. Marcus Ballard, the head of Xavier’s mass communication program.

“Although I didn’t know Malcolm all that well, I remember his sense of humor, his incredible musical gift, and his lifelong dedication to Xavier,” Ballard shared.

Breda was awarded the top African-American educator by the National Association of Negro Musicians at a national convention, here in New Orleans. His academic articles and books about musicians of color continued to be used for teaching in the classroom. He published in the International Dictionary of Black Composers, a source for students who are researching Black composers. His doctoral dissertation is classified as the chief primary source of knowledge on the African-American composer Hale Smith.

“He would push you to learn because he was stubborn, stubborn in terms of making sure the students in the music department got the resources they needed,” Ware said.

Even with his many professional commitments, Breda always found time for community service, he said. Breda was a pianist who freely shared his talents as an influence to aspiring musicians. He was a choir director and organist at St. Dominic Church from 1985-2012, along with being the organist for the New Orleans Black Chorale.

“The music department mourns the loss of such a storied venerated professor, as our hearts go out to his friends and family, we honor his legacy as he goes on to glory,” said sophomore Morgan Crosby, the head of the concert choir at Xavier.

Breda’s home-going memorial services are scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28, 2023, at Xavier’ University’s Chapel.

This article originally published in the January 30, 2023 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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