Born in Jamestown, New York, in 1945, Theodore Albrecht grew up in San Antonio, Texas. After studying oboe with Charles Veasey and conducting with George Yaeger (both of the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra), he received his bachelor's degree in music education from St. Mary's University there in 1967. Albrecht's graduate studies at North Texas State University included conducting under Anshel Brusilow, as well as musicology under Dika Newlin, Helen Hewitt and Michael Collins, and led to a Ph.D. in musicology in 1975. Meanwhile, he spent 1970-1972 in the U.S. Army, living in Frankfurt, Germany, and attending performances in Vienna, Rome, Munich and Bayreuth. He has also participated in post-doctoral seminars at Harvard University, Indiana University and Yale University, as well as the Herbert Blomstedt Conducting Institute.
Albrecht has taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina (1975-76), where he organized a summer orchestra; Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland (1976-80); and Park College in Kansas City, Missouri (1980-92).
At Park College, he was music director of the college-community Northland Symphony Orchestra (1980-87), reorganized as the Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City (1987-92). With this orchestra, he conducted a wide symphonic and "pops" repertoire. He also gave U.S. premieres of works by Gottfried von Einem and Hans Pfitzner, as well as regional and local premieres of works by Barber, Shostakovich, Hindemith and Mahler. Over the years, they became the first orchestra and conductor in the United States to perform all nine symphonies by Antonin Dvorak, and merited congratulations from the famed Czech conductors Viclav Neumann and Rafael Kubelik.
In 1992, Albrecht joined the faculty of Kent State University, where he teaches musicology and music history. His classroom presentations are informative, but with an air of informality and spontaneity, laced with current topical allusions and humor. His free-hand maps of locations associated with music history prompt endless mirth and moans among Kent's students. Albrecht's graduate seminars rely heavily upon student preparation, all with lively comments and questions from the other participants.
Under Albrecht's guidance the graduate program in musicology has grown to twenty students. Still in the early stages of their careers, these Kent scholars have variously presented papers to the Allegheny and Midwest Chapters of the American Musicological Society, have become recognized nationally for their work (especially in the field of Beethoven studies), and have published internationally.
Albrecht is widely known for his work in Classical and Romantic music, the early Twentieth Century and American music. His path-breaking research into Scott Joplin's youthful years in Texarkana was published in 1979; and his translations of Felix Weingartner's classic guides to conducting the symphonies of Mozart, Schubert and Schumann were serialized in the Journal of the Conductor's Guild (1986). His 1989 edition of A.W. Thayer's Salieri, Rival of Mozart earned enthusiastic reviews in the United States, England and Germany.
Today, Albrecht is perhaps best known as a Beethoven specialist. His three-volume Letters to Beethoven (a collection of over 500 documents, dozens never before available in any language) was published by the University of Nebraska Press in 1996. In the BBC Music Magazine (May, 1997), Barry Cooper hailed it as "the largest and most important collection of Beethoven source materials to be published in English for many years." Albrecht's Beethoven Research Guide (an annotated bibliography of roughly 5,000 articles and books about the composer) will appear in 2001.
Albrecht is a popular pre-concert lecturer for The Cleveland Orchestra and Akron's Tuesday Musical Club, and also appears regularly on the Cleveland Opera's lecture series. His wife, Carol Padgham Albrecht, is assistant professor of oboe and music history at the University of Idaho; on the whole, they live in Kent.