August 30, 1915
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Died||October 25, 2003(aged 88)|
Robert Strassburg (August 30, 1915 - October 25, 2003) was a leading American conductor, composer, musicologist and music educator of the twentieth century. His studies in music were completed under the supervision of such leading composers as Igor Stravinsky, Walter Piston and Paul Hindemith, with whom he studied at Tanglewood. His formal academic studies were completed at the New England Conservatory of Music and Harvard University, where he obtained a fellowship in composition. He also completed a doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. As a musicologist, Dr. Strassburg is regarded as a leading authority on the compositions of the composer Ernest Bloch.
Robert Strassburg's contributions to the advancement of music education within the United States of America were far ranging and comprehensive in nature. After serving as a lecturer at Brooklyn College (1947-1950), he obtained a position as artist in residence at the Brandeis Arts Institute in California (1951-1955). During his years in Miami, he founded the All-Miami Youth Symphony in 1958 and was conductor until 1961. Today it is known as the Greater Miami Youth Symphony  and is one of the oldest youth symphonies in continuous existence in Florida. Additional contributions were made as the Assistant Dean for the School of Fine Arts at the University of Judaism (now the American Jewish University) in Los Angeles (1961-1966). This culminated in an appointment as professor of Music at the California State University at Los Angeles in 1966.
Dr. Strassburg's contributions as a composer were also undertaken during the course of an extended fifty-year period. An early composition titled Lost was completed as early as 1945 and received critical acclaim. As music director for various synagogues he expressed a keen interest in Jewish liturgical music and completed several sacred compositions. Many secular compositions also emerged during the ensuing years including over thirty musical settings of the poetry of Walt Whitman. In later years, a monumental choral symphony in ten movements was also completed in honor of the poet Walt Whitman titled Leaves of Grass (1992). Dr. Strassburg also contributed to a variety of film scores as well as incidental music for such theatrical productions as: King Lear, The Rose Tattoo, Anne of the Thousand Days and The House I Live In.
Robert Strassburg inspired several generations of young and aspiring musicians in his capacity as an instructor of advanced composition, a university professor and an orchestral conductor. His patient style of instruction and enthusiastic dedication to excellence struck a resounding chord with all of his pupils. Several of his early students from the 1940s and 1950s emerged in later years as acclaimed instrumentalists, soloists and orchestral composers. Included among this group was John Serry, Sr., a noted concert accordionist, arranger/composer, as well as the orchestral composer Yehudi Wyner.
Robert Strassburg is also noteworthy as the author of the critically acclaimed biography of Ernest Bloch titled Ernest Bloch: Voice in the Wilderness. The research materials associated with this publication along with Dr. Strassburg's written insights are accessible at the Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts. The collection is archived for research purposes at the University of Florida at Gainesville.
Strassburg enjoyed close contact with several other composers of his era including: