By Paige Fogarty '00
Frederick S. Mirliani was a music
prodigy from the age of seven when he excelled at the violin.
He was able to play almost every instrument during
his lifetime, and often said, "Music
is my life." His extraordinary gift led him to Holy Cross where he graduated
in 1932 with a bachelor's degree in both English and music. While at Holy Cross,
Mirliani was chosen as the best musician in the College.
Mirliani's talent was recognized by many professionals
in the music industry, including Glenn Miller who invited Mirliani to join
his dance band. He turned Miller down in 1938 in order to pursue studies
in music education which would become his life's work. "I like to share what
I know," he once said. "I could play with any band in the country. I'm that
confident, but I want to teach."
Mirliani would do just that, receiving his master's degree in music education
from Boston University. He went to work at New Britain High School in Connecticut
where he earned the nickname "Doc" as the students saw him as a doctor of notes.
He was largely responsible for the success of its band and chorus. While there,
he was selected to represent the eastern United States at the National Music
Education Association Festival in 1946.
His success in New Britain led him back to his alma mater where he served for
19 years. During his time at Holy Cross, the music department flourished, As
director, Mirliani developed bands and expanded the vocal department
to three glee clubs and many smaller groups. His most important contribution
to the College was the reintroduction of academic classes in music.
Mirliani continued to pursue his interest in music education and performance
after he left Holy Cross. During the 1960s, he pioneered a music program in
the state community college system in Massachusetts. At the age of 78, Mirliani
was still conducting a jazz group. Throughout his career, he could always be
found imparting the joy of music and using his extraordinary gift for arranging
and conducting. "I know music," he said. "There's a certain sound I get
from my groups."
"Doc" passed away in April of 1996 at the age of 86, but to those he taught and
conducted, that sound will always be remembered.