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John Donald Robb
John Donald Robb Biography
John Donald Robb (1892-1989) was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and led a rich and varied life as an attorney, composer, arts administrator, and ethno-musicologist. During his long and fruitful life, Robb composed an impressive body of work including symphonies, concertos for viola and piano, sonatas, chamber and other instrumental music, choral works, songs and arrangements of folk songs, two operas and a musical comedy and more than sixty-five electronic works.

For a CD containing recordings of Robbs electronic works, please go to http://www.locustmusic.com/jdrobb.html

Robb's orchestral works have been played by many major orchestras in the U.S. and abroad and under noted conductors, such as Hans Lange, Maurice Abravenel, Leonard Slatkin, Gilberto Orellana, Yoshimi Takeda, Guy Frazer Harison, Victor Alexander, Eleazar de Carvalho, Souza Lima, Maurice Bonney, and Ricardo del Carmen.

During the two decades he worked as an international lawyer in New York, Robb also studied with leading composers Horatio Parker, Darius Milhaud, Roy Harris, Paul Hindemith and Nadia Boulanger.

In 1941, at the age of 49, Robb decided to leave his law career to become head of the music department at the University of New Mexico. He served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts from 1942-57 and was responsible for starting the UNM Symphony, as well as many other educational initiatives.

During his tenure at UNM, Robb's fascination with Hispanic Folk Music led to his collection of 3,000 field recordings of traditional songs and dances from Nepal, South America and the American Southwest, which formed the nucleus of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music at the University of New Mexico. He subsequently wrote two books on the subject, including, Hispanic Folk Songs of New Mexico (1954) and his authoritative book, Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: A Self Portrait of the People (1980).

John Donald Robb was also the recipient of numerous honors and grants, including the honorary degree of Doctor of Music by the University of New Mexico and an honorary membership on the Board of Directors of the New Mexico Symphony.

A number of Robb's works have been recorded, including the most recent recordings with the Polish National Radio Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of David Oberg, Music Director of the Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. These recordings include Robb's Concerto for Viola and Orchestra, Elegy for Our War Dead (the second movement from his Symphony #1), the full Symphony #1 for Strings, Scenes from a New Mexico Mountain Village, and the Concerto for Piano and Orchestra. All are available on Opus One Recordings, Inc.

A CD entitled, Pictures of New Mexico, featuring Robb's piano works and performed by pianist Tatiana Vetrinskaya, was released on the John Donald Robb Musical Trust's own Triangulum record label in 1999.

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