Victor Rittenband, 2009
For 22 years Victor Rittenband and his wife Nancy Gustafsson-Rittenband performed Hawaiian music and hula outside the Reef Hotel in Waikīkī, much to the pleasure of visitors and residents alike. Hailed as tireless promoters of the Aloha Spirit and all things Hawaiian, they wrote and recorded countless songs and traveled the world as cultural ambassadors. Two of their most popular songs were Ukulele Tree and Swedish Hula.
While they are no longer with us, they continue to make a profound impact on the music of Hawaiʻi through their philanthropy.
In 2006 Victor Rittenband worked with the Office of Estate and Gift Planning team at the UH Foundation to set in motion a legacy to perpetuate Hawaiian culture and music. Today, thanks to the Rittenbands' generosity and foresight, students and faculty at UH Mānoa's Department of Music are benefitting from their $1 million bequest gift.
Named in honor of his wife who died in 2005, the Nancy Gustafsson-Rittenband and Victor Rittenband Endowed Fund provides scholarships to qualified students who are pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in music, with an emphasis on Hawaiian music, dance and chant.
"We are very grateful that Victor honored us with this bequest. These students will take their place in the community as performers, producers, historians, and storytellers, and will help shape Hawaiian music for years to come," said Tom Bingham, dean, College of Arts and Humanities.
The second endowment, the Nancy Gustafsson-Rittenband and Victor Rittenband Endowment for Hawaiian Music, supports the Hawaiian Music program in the Music Department. This fund fuels master classes, workshops, performances and research into Hawaiian music, dance and chant.
"This generous and thoughtful donation will infuse a much needed financial boost to our growing emphasis in Hawaiian Music in our Music Department. The use of these funds will support a growth in our ability to expand our Hawaiian Music course offerings and insure our Hawaiian ensembles with a renewed security of purpose and expansion," said Laurence Paxton, chair, Department of Music.
Originally from New Jersey, Victor Rittenband came to Hawaiʻi to work for First Insurance Co. in 1964. His wife Nancy, originally from Denmark and Sweden, moved to Hawaiʻi in 1959 after a visit in 1952. Victor and Nancy were introduced by mutual acquaintances in 1967 and married in 1969. They shared a passion for Hawaiian music and hula and used their earnings to record Hawaiian music, and support charities.
They planned this bequest because of their belief that culture is perpetuated through language and music. With this legacy, the music they loved so dearly will flourish for years to come.
To learn more about how you can support the Department of Music, please contact Lori Admiral at Lori.Admiral@uhfoundation.org or (808) 956-5747.