George List was an esteemed ethnomusicologist renowned for his groundbreaking research and preservation of traditional music. He is widely credited as being one of the first academics to combine ethnomusicologist and folklorist roles, as well as having a major role in setting up US sound archives.
In the 1960s, he traveled to Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region and recorded over 120 open reel tapes with music, interviews, and folk tales from communities with strong indigenous and Afro-Colombian heritage. These recordings have become an invaluable resource for researchers studying Colombian traditional music.
Early Life and Education
At an early age, George List began studying agriculture and working on various farms and ranches while saving money to attend colleges and universities.
His success in developing a coal mine near Tamaqua and building the Little Schuylkill Railroad in 1831 made him wealthy. Plans to open markets abroad for American coal and construct railroads in Europe led him to France in 1830.
At that time, he was renowned for his theories on economic development and protectionism. He published several works such as Outlines of American Political Economy (1827), which ultimately led Congress to pass the “Tariff of Abominations.”
George List’s twenty-two years as director of the Archives of Traditional Music (ADMM) at Indiana University marked a turning point in American ethnomusicology. His research focused on indigenous peoples of North America, particularly the Hopi tribes of northern Arizona and Colombia’s Caribbean coastal region.
He was the pioneering figure in unifying ethnomusicologist and folklorist roles, publishing several groundbreaking articles that remain essential reading for students of this field. He is widely credited with turning the ADMM from a collection of miscellaneous items into an accessible public resource for researchers and communities, setting high standards in conservation and cataloguing practices that would become foundational foundations for subsequent US ethnographic sound archives.
Achievements and Honors
George List has earned a number of awards and distinctions throughout his career. These include a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.
He was a professor of transportation systems and networks at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC and an active member of both the American Society of Civil Engineers and Transport Research Board.
He served as an officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, earning him numerous accolades for his research into transport systems and networks.
George List was raised in a poor family and always found ways to entertain himself. He earned the title of “funniest boy” at his high school and eventually pursued acting professionally.
He had a thriving career in television, appearing on popular series such as The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry R.F.D.
He had a distinguished professional career as an ethnomusicologist, folklorist and archivist. For twenty-two years (1954-1976) at Indiana University he served as director of the Archives of Traditional Music; transforming it from a small collection into an accessible public resource for researchers and communities alike. Additionally, he oversaw its relocation into permanent facilities while developing rigorous standards for conservation and cataloguing procedures applicable to subsequent US ethnographic sound archives.
Forbes magazine recently named George List one of the wealthiest people in the world. He is a television host, record producer, author, and owner of multiple properties.
He boasts a net worth of $5 billion, placing him among other notable individuals such as media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Hollywood director Steven Spielberg and NBA star Michael Jordan.
This Boston-born businessman has built and acquired many renowned landmarks, such as Millennium Tower, Encore Boston Harbor and Four Seasons One Dalton Street.
He generously donates his money to various charities and local causes, while owning a substantial estate on Nantucket. Furthermore, he has invested in numerous technology firms; his latest venture Moderna recently brought a COVID-19 vaccine onto the market.