Smithsonian music curator James Merle Weaver died on 16 April in Rochester, New York, from complications of COVID-19. He was 82.
Weaver began his lifelong engagement with music as a piano, and later, organ, student in his hometown of Danville, Illinois. While on a high school field trip to Washington, DC, Weaver saw his first harpsichords at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. Sometime during his sophomore year at the University of Illinois, he decided to go to Amsterdam to study harpsichord and the just-developing field of historical performance practice with Dutch organist and harpsichordist Gustav Leonhardt. Returning to Illinois, Weaver completed his bachelor's (1961) and master's (1963) degrees, during which time he "discovered" the late-18th-century fortepiano, an instrument Weaver eventually added to his repertoire of historic keyboards.