The Passing of Dr. Ken Keaton

Ken Keaton

by P. Burks | Thursday, Jul 18, 2019

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Dr. Ken Keaton, a dedicated and inspiring professor in the Department of Music. He passed away on July 15, 2019.

Keaton taught music history, classical guitar and chamber music. He was the director of the undergraduate honors program for the Department of Music, and served as associate dean of The Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters from 1993 to 2008. He was an active performer for many years, with a particular interest in chamber music and works for voice and guitar. He presented concerts throughout southern Florida, the eastern United States, and in Europe.

Keaton studied at the University of Miami with Juan Mercadal, earning his MA and later doctorate there in 1980. This was only the second time the Doctor of Musical Arts degree had been awarded to a guitarist at a U.S. institution. Subsequent study included master classes with Pepe Romero, Sharon Isbin and David Russell. His publications include editions of the works of Napoleon Coste and transcriptions of the works of John Dowland (for Warner Bros. Publications), and he was the Guitar Forum Editor for ”American String Teacher” from 1993 through 1995. He wrote as a music critic, reviewing recordings for “American Record Guide” and live performances for “The Palm Beach Daily News.” He was a member of the Music Critics Association of North America, and wrote for their on-line site, “Classical Voice North America.”

Keaton once had a student who suffered brain damage in an accident. As his professor, he found a way to uncover the young man's talent and tap into his determination to succeed. Now a doctor of musical arts himself, the former student is living his dream. This was just one of the many students on whom Keaton had a profound effect. 

Dr. Keaton expressly wished that students who need assistance to attend FAU get the financial support they deserve because of their talent. If you would like to make a gift in memory of Dr. Keaton, visit, indicate “Tribute Gift” and “In Memory of Ken Keaton”so that new music majors can realize their dream of becoming accomplished musicians.

The Department of Music invites the FAU community and friends to a free concert to be presented by the Classical Guitar Society Remembrance and Celebration of Dr. Ken Keaton, on Sunday, April 19, 2020, 3pm at the University Theatre. The members of the Classical Guitar Society will featured in extraordinary performances in tribute to Dr. Ken Keaton, the founder of the Society. This concert will feature some of his favorite works for classical guitar in solo and chamber ensemble settings, as performed by his former students and FAU alums.

“No me pueden quitar lo que he bailado” 
(Spanish proverb: They cannot take away from me that which I have danced)