Nelsen Williamsburg

3785 Strawberry Plains Rd., Williamsburg, VA


Carl Richard Dolmetsch Jr.

July 5, 1924June 7, 2019

Dr. Carl Richard Dolmetsch, Jr., 94, educator, author, music journalist, and member of Williamsburg Landing, died Friday, June 7, 2019.

He was born in Vienna on July 5, 1924, the son of a German-Austrian father and an American mother, Margaret Hollister, and brought to this country in 1934. He graduated from Rainelle, WV high school in 1941 and studied at The University of Chicago where his education was interrupted by three years of service in Combat Intelligence with the 8th US Army Air Force in Europe. From 1948 until 1959, he taught in several secondary schools and colleges in the Midwest. He was a John Hay Whitney Fellow at Columbia University in 1953-54.

In 1959, he joined the faculty of the College of William and Mary as an Assistant Professor of English specializing in American literature. He became an Associate in 1966 and Professor in 1968. From 1970 until 1976, he served as Chairman of the W&M English Department. In 1968, he was a Visiting Professor of English at the University of Georgia. In 1964-66, he served as a Fulbright Lecturer at the Institute for American Studies of the Free University of Berlin and in the same position at the University of Erlangen-Nuernberg in 1977, returning to Berlin in 1981-82 as a Visiting Professor. In the summers from 1969-1984, he was a lecturer for the United States Information Agency in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. After retiring in 1987, he taught courses in literature, opera, and social history in the William and Mary adult education program.

Among the 13 books of which he is the author or contributor, his first, The Smart Set: A History & Anthology was a best-seller and his last, “Our Famous Guest”: Mark Twain in Vienna was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won the Austria Prize awarded annually for a book on an Austrian-related subject by a foreigner. It was translated into German and Hungarian and published in both Vienna and Budapest. He also published more than 300 articles on literature and music.

A trained violinist with a degree in musicology, he was director of William & Mary’s classical music concert series for several seasons in the 1960’s and served on the board of directors of the Chamber Music Society of Williamsburg and annotated their concert programs from 1995 until 2001. He reviewed concerts from 1974 until 1993 for The Virginia Gazette and continued thereafter to review opera performances for international journals.

In 1948, he married Joan Downing, of Munster, Indiana who was a nationally-known art historian and a Curator of Graphic Arts & Maps with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation before her early retirement for health reasons. She predeceased him on 1993. Their oldest son, Carl Richard III died in 2016.

He survived by a second son, Dr. Christopher Dolmetsch, a retired professor of German at Marshall University and his wife, Nona Tapscot Dolmetsch; widowed daughter-in-law, Debra Cosner Dolmetsch of Charlottesville; a granddaughter, Alicia Dolmetsch Welch and her husband, Andrew Welch; and a great-granddaughter, Brenna Welch, also of Charlottesville.

Memorial arrangements are incomplete. His ashes and those of his wife will be interred in Austria.

Online condolences may be shared at www.nelsenwilliamsburg. com.


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