John Evarts

John Evarts, Black Mountain College Faculty Photo. Courtesy of the Western Regional Archives.Fig. 1

Beginning his career at Black Mountain College (BMC) in 1933, John Evarts joined the experimental college as an instructor of music. Evarts was trained on the violin and piano.[1] While at the college Evarts gained a reputation for being a wonderful colleague and great teacher of music. He also served as an advisor for some students. Among these students was Derek Bovingdon, a young student who lost his life in a bomber crash during the war.

A letter requesting Evarts’ draft selection be deferred, from Rector Robert Wunch and Secretary Frederick Mangold summarizes Professor John Evarts’ history with and contributions to Black Mountain College. Courtesy of Western Regional ArchivesFig. 2

After joining the college, Evarts played a key role in raising funds for BMC.[2] BMC rector Robert Wunsch even requested that Evarts’ Selective Service draft be deferred due to his importance to the college.[3] Nevertheless, Evarts willingly joined the Armed Forces in October of 1942. The faculty and students of BMC were sad to see Evarts go. The school bade a farewell to the instructor of music with a concert on October 24, 1942.[4] While stationed in Germany, Evarts remained in contact with many of his colleagues at BMC. Among these contacts is Heinrich Jalowetz and his wife Joanna. It was evident through correspondences that the Jalowetz’s were quite close to Evarts and missed him very much when he left to join war efforts.[5]

Evarts still supported the college as much as he could while he was in the military, authorizing funds to be sent to Ted Dreier at BMC.[6] He was also very active in life on the military base. The “Interceptor,” a newspaper put out by the 116th Signal Radio Intelligence Company in Scheyern, Germany, Evarts is listed as participating in a concert on base.[7] Although Evarts intended to return to BMC after the war, he eventually decided to stay in Germany a little longer than expected. Convinced that his work in Germany contributed to “Winning the Peace,” Evarts requested an extension to his leave of absence so that he could help reconstruct peace after the war had ended.[8] Evarts never returned to the school he’d helped to build, but it continued to have a special place in his heart. After the war Evarts stayed on in Germany to help rebuild the nation’s cultural identity. As late as the 1970s Evarts was working in West Berlin as Director of the International Institute for Comparative Music studies.[9]


[1] John Evarts to John Rice, September 7, 1933, John Evarts Faculty File, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 2, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[2] Faculty Minutes May 19, 1941, Black Mountain College Collection, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[3] Robert Wunsch and Fredrick Mangold, Requesting John Evarts’ Draft Deferment, John Evarts Faculty File, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty Files, Box 2, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[4] Black Mountain College Community Bulletin, October 14, 1942, Black Mountain College Papers, Box 8, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[5] Heinrich Jalowetz to John Evarts, November 12, 1942, Black Mountain College Research Project, Box 6, Evarts Folder 1, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[6] Authorization of Class B Allotment for Purchase of War Savings Bonds, John Evarts Military Documents, Black Mountain College Research Project, Box 6, Evarts Folder 5, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[7] Interceptor, 116th Signal Radio Intelligence Company, Vol. I, No. 4, July 6, 1945, John Evarts Faculty File, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty File,. Box ,. Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[8] John Evarts to Board of Fellows of Black Mountain College, June 29, 1943, John Evarts Faculty File, Black Mountain College Papers, Faculty File,. Box 2, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

[9] Danse Macabre (1938): Music by John Evarts for a ballet by Xanti Schawinsky, Black Mountain College Research Project, Box 6, Evarts Folder 8, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 1 John Evarts Portrait, Black Mountain College Faculty Photos, Box 2, Folder 31, Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina.

Fig. 2 Robert Wunsch and Fredrick Mangold, Request for John Evarts’ Draft Deferment.

 

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