Discipline: Music Composition

Robert Stern

Discipline: Music Composition
Region: Amherst, MA
MacDowell Fellowships: 1967, 1969, 1972, 1974, 1977, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1991, 1994, 2005
Robert Stern (1934-2018) was a composer and professor emeritus of music theory and composition. He developed an early love of music when his mother brought him to classical music concerts, and his musical talent was recognized during his elementary school years. He received bachelor degrees from both the Eastman School of Music and the University of Rochester, after which he entered the Army and was assigned to the award-winning Third Army Band as a music arranger. He loved playing piano with his combo, the “Mood Masters,” at officers’ club and bars. Upon discharge from the army, he attended UCLA to study with Lukas Foss, whose music he had found compelling and who remained an important mentor. Stern returned to Eastman for his Ph.D. in composition. Stern was recruited to teach composition and theory in the department of music and dance at UMass Amherst in 1964 by then-department chair Philip Bezanson, and he remained with the department until his retirement in 2002. Over the years, he delighted in making music with and writing music for his many close colleagues. In February 2018, the department honored him with a special performance, during which he was lauded by friends and colleagues as a brilliant educator, composer, and “the personification of sensitivity and respectfulness.” Stern’s music has been performed throughout the U.S. as well as in Europe, China, South America, Japan and Israel by such prominent ensembles and artists as the Beaux Arts String Quartet, Collage, the Da Capo Chamber Players, the Contemporary Chamber Players at the University of Chicago, the Eastman Musica Nova, Yehudi Wyner, Joel Smirnoff, Gilbert Kalish, Marni Nixon, Jan Opalach, Joel Krosnick and the Gregg Smith Singers.


Irving Fine

Robert Stern worked in the Irving Fine studio.

Youngstown Studio was given to MacDowell by friends of Miss Myra McKeown in Youngstown, OH, where she promoted both art and music. It was renamed Irving Fine Studio in 1972 in honor of Irving Fine, a distinguished composer, conductor, and teacher who was a MacDowell Fellow during the 1940s and 1950s. The simple interior of the studio…

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