UT Tower carillon player dies at 93

Elizabeth Hlavinka

The sound of 56 bells has rang through campus daily from the top of the Tower. For the past 64 years, Tom Anderson was the man behind the music.

Anderson, UT’s carillon player, died on Aug. 18 at age 93 due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to the Austin American-Statesman.

In 1952, Anderson began playing the instrument during his time as an undergraduate at the University. After his graduation, he was invited to return to his position in 1967, where he remained until retiring in 2013 due to a decline in his health.

UT’s carillon is the largest in Texas, with each bell ranging from 20 to 7,350 pounds. The instrument is played by striking one’s fist down upon a series of batons and petals.

He often played “The Eyes of Texas” before football games, Christmas carols during the holidays and “Happy Birthday,” upon students’ request.

UT alumnus Austin Ferguson met Anderson as an undergraduate in 2011 while in a carillon practice room. Ferguson said he thinks what Anderson enjoyed the most about his job was interacting with students.

“[He was] somebody who enjoyed his role as a teacher as much as a performer,” Ferguson said. “There was a special glint in his eye when he was teaching and instructing students. He told everybody at one point that getting to spread the bells was the best part about his job.”

Anderson told The Daily Texan in 2011 that he was partial towards international students after working in the International Office after his graduation. He kept a list of the national days of various countries and often played them from the tower as well.

“It’s a wonderful instrument,” Anderson told The Daily Texan in 2011. “It’s a beautiful sound and i just love it.”