Obituary: Iva M. Buff, 91

by | Feb 24, 2024

A renowned musicologist and music librarian

From the Hill Funeral Home Website

Dr. Iva M. Buff of East Greenwich, age 91, passed away on Saturday, Feb. 17, with her loving family by her side. She was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Frank P. Buff, and is survived by her daughter, Susan Buff and son-in-law Ernest Waterman of Sunnyvale, Calif.; daughter Marjorie Murphy, M.D., and son-in-law John Murphy, M.D., of East Greenwich; and grandchildren Michael, Christopher, and Laura Murphy.

Iva was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on Aug. 28, 1932, to Thomas and Iva Moore. She spent her middle school and high school years in North Tarrytown, N.Y. and became an accomplished pianist at an early age. In 1949, she graduated from North Tarrytown High School as valedictorian of her class. She then earned two bachelor’s degrees over the next four years, graduating in 1953 with a bachelor of arts with distinction in music history from the University of Rochester and a bachelor of music with distinction from the U of R’s Eastman School of Music. She went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in music from Smith College, after which she spent a year teaching mathematics at the Brearley School in New York City. She then returned to Rochester, where she earned a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Rochester.

In 1956, Iva met the love of her life, Dr. Frank P. Buff, while waiting in line for lunch at a campus cafeteria at the University of Rochester, where Frank was a professor and theorist in physical chemistry and physics. They shared a love of classical music, art, photography, and literature, and they were married the same year. They each knew six languages and enjoyed traveling throughout Europe during a sabbatical year in the Netherlands. They raised their family in Rochester, enthusiastically encouraging their daughters’ varied hobbies and interests while sharing their own. The family enjoyed summer getaways to nearby Canandaigua Lake and hiking in the Alps on memorable trips to Switzerland and Austria. Iva was a fabulous chef whose elaborate gourmet meals were appreciated by both family and friends. 

Iva spent her career at the Eastman School of Music as a musicologist and a music librarian at the Sibley Music Library, the largest university music library in the U.S., where she served as head of acquisitions and collections development. She was a member of the Mu Phi Epsilon professional music society and, in 1973, she was awarded a fellowship by the American Association of University Women. In 1979, she published a thematic catalog of the works of the Italian composer, Giacomo Carissimi, with reviews lauding it for “breaking new ground in providing thematic access to the sacred works of the most celebrated composer of seventeenth-century Italy” and noting it was “an essential addition to any library or musicology collection.” 

After her husband’s death in 2009, Iva moved to East Greenwich, to be close to her three grandchildren, with whom she had a very close bond. She was a doting grandmother who enjoyed attending their many sporting events, music recitals, talent shows, and graduations. She was an avid reader, participating in several book clubs as well as keeping up on the news of the day online. She completed the New York Times crossword puzzle daily for over 70 years. She also loved bird watching, gardening, watching tennis, basketball, and football, and streaming the latest shows and movies. Above all, she loved her family and was a devoted wife, mother, and grandmother whose unconditional love, warmth, kindness, patience, keen wit, wisdom, positivity, and gentle smile will be deeply missed. 

Per her wishes, there will be no service. Donations in her name may be made to the National Audubon Society.

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EG News Obituary Policy: We post obituaries relevant to our readers. If you would like to share an obituary, send it to [email protected]. Put “obituary” in the subject line. 

Posted 2/24/24

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