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Body Identified as B.U. Prof., Schumann Scholar

By Faryl Ury, Crimson Staff Writer

BOSTON—A body found floating in the Charles River Monday was identified yesterday as John J. Daverio, a Boston University music professor who had been missing for almost a month.

Daverio, who was 49, was last seen leaving his Commonwealth Avenue office on March 16 around 8:40 p.m.

His body was found by a local crew team Monday night.

After completing an autopsy yesterday, the State Medical Examiner’s office ruled that the cause of death was drowning, but the manner of death remains undetermined, according to Middlesex District Attorney spokesperson Emily LaGrassa.

Investigators used dental records to identify the body, LaGrassa said.

In a press conference yesterday, Boston police officials said no trauma to the body was found during the autopsy, and that there was no evidence that Daverio was the victim of foul play.

Accident and suicide are being investigated as possible causes of death, said Boston Police Captain William Evans.

Daverio, one of the world’s leading scholars on the work of composer Robert Schumann, arrived at Boston University as a student 32 years ago and spent the past 20 years on its faculty. He became chair of the school’s department of musicology in 2002.

Daverio’s latest book, Crossing Paths: Schubert, Schumann, and Brahms—which explored the lives and work of these three 19th century composers—was released last fall.

University officials and colleagues noted that Daverio was both a theoretical scholar and a talented musician—a rare and valuable combination.

“He was a distinguished, provocative, fine, scintillating teacher,” said Andre de Quadros, director of the School of Music at the College of Fine Arts. “He is one of the most distinguished musical scholars that has graced these portals.”

Walt C. Meissner, interim dean of the College of Fine Arts, described Daverio as the school’s “most respected faculty member” who was “always thoughtful, always kind.”

Daverio’s death was “shocking and devastating” to the university community, he said.

At the press conference, Quadros noted that Daverio had been depressed and concerned about his elderly parents who were ailing.

He had visited his parents, who live in Pennsylvania, just before his disappearance, said Quadros.

A single witness, a BU affiliate saw Daverio leaving his office March 16, said BU Police Captain Robert E. Molloy.

Surveillance camera records shows him leaving the building with a white plastic bag.

After leaving his office, police officials said Daverio walked east toward the BU Bridge. Daverio’s wallet was found in his office, Molloy said.

His body was found near the DeWolfe BU Boathouse on Memorial Drive by a local crew team at around 7:30 p.m. Monday.

Molloy said that Daverio was wearing the same clothes when found that he had had on when last seen.

Colleagues doubt the possibility that Daverio committed suicide.

Schumann, the composer Daverio studied and wrote about extensively, attempted to kill himself by throwing himself in the Rhine in 1854. He died two years later.

Molloy told the Associated Press that investigators were aware of the coincidence, but didn’t think it played a role in Daverio’s death.

—Staff writer Faryl W. Ury can be reached at ury@fas.harvard.edu.

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