David Salkowski

To me, the liberal arts stand for the principle that not all learning needs to be instrumentalized, and this is a privilege that I wish more people had.
David, standing in a bell tower at Timios Podromos Monastery near Serres, Greece.

Degree and Class Year



Charleston, South Carolina




Russian studies


Orchestra, wind symphony, Russian Club

Overseas study

St. Petersburg, Russia
What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Caring, creative, idealistic

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

The blend of academic rigor and freedom appealed to me, as well as the type of community students seemed to enjoy outside of the classroom. The idyllic location and Portland’s music scene sure helped, too.

How do you describe the liberal arts?

To me, the liberal arts stand for the principle that not all learning needs to be instrumentalized, and this is a privilege that I wish more people had.

Why did you major in music?

All I ever wanted to do was play and write music. While at L&C I also picked up a love of researching and writing about music.

What was your favorite class? How did it expand your knowledge?

Michael Johanson’s Introduction to Music Composition course. I had no idea how to write so-called classical music before that class. Professor Johanson’s teaching is so thoughtful and his approach is so student-centered that it helped me overcome that barrier. The course showed me techniques and ways of thinking about music that opened up an entire field of expressive possibilities for me.

Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

I had many mentors at L&C! Nora Beck has remained one of my mentors to this day. She showed me the joy of musicology, taught with infectious exuberance, and took care of her students outside of the classroom.

If you studied overseas while at Lewis & Clark, how did you choose your program? What did your overseas study add to your L&C experience?

I studied overseas in St. Petersburg, Russia. I chose St. Petersburg, because I was—and remain—fascinated with Russian culture, and St. Petersburg was at the center of that interest. It made a tremendous difference for the development of my language skills, which allowed me to carry out my senior thesis work and become engaged with the Russian community in Portland. St. Petersburg is still an important part of my life today.

What have you been doing since graduation?

After spending a year working at All Classical Radio and teaching music in Portland, I began a PhD program in musicology at Princeton University. I’m currently in my final year and wrapping up my dissertation on Russian music. In 2018–19, I returned to St. Petersburg to conduct research on a Fulbright Grant.

How did Lewis & Clark prepare you for your job/grad school/volunteer work/whatever you’re up to?

Lewis & Clark prepared me very well for graduate school. The hands-on mentorship I had received from faculty like Nora Beck and Tatiana Osipovich, the thoughtful pedagogy modeled by Michael Johanson and Kathy FitzGibbon, and, of course my classmates at LC—all this gave me a much more holistic preparation for graduate school than I even realized at the time.

Now that you’ve been out of college for a while, what would you say is the most important thing you learned at Lewis & Clark?

Scholarship should be a humane practice.

What are your career goals?

I hope to get a job as a professor of musicology and pass on the kind of education I received at L&C.