Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989

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Born in Minneapolis, Minn.; died in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1989. Educator, composer of stage, classical and electronic music, collector of folk music, lawyer, and writer. In 1941 became a professor of music and head of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico; later became Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He was instrumental in the establishment of a folk music archive at the University of New Mexico.

From the description of Compositions of J.D. Robb. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 31968056

From the description of Folk music materials. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 31968052

Born in Minneapolis, Minn.; died in Albuquerque, N.M. in 1989. Educator, composer of stage, classical, and electronic music, collector of folk music, lawyer, and writer. In 1941 became a professor of music and head of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico; later became Dean of the College of Fine Arts. He was instrumental in the establishment of a folk music archive at the University of New Mexico.

From the description of Papers, 1915-1989. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 31968039

From the description of Personal and professional papers. (University of New Mexico-Main Campus). WorldCat record id: 31968046

Lawyer, composer, conductor, writer. Born in 1892 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Received law degree from Harvard in 1922, and M.A. in music from Mills College in 1950. Practiced law in New York City for 20 years. Served as Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque from 1946-1957. His musical interests centered around folk music and electronic music.

From the description of Papers, 1957-1970, 1962-1965. (Texas Tech University). WorldCat record id: 23010760

John Donald Robb. Part of the J. D. Robb Pictorial Collection PICT 000-497-0001-0020 (Box 1, Folder 1).

John Donald Robb, professor emeritus of music and dean emeritus of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, was responsible for the growth of fine arts at UNM in the l940s and l950s and, in turn, for the impact that UNM had in the fine arts throughout the state. Robb, a composer of stage, classical, and electronic music, is also known as a collector of folk music. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Robb had a first career as a lawyer. Educated in eastern schools, Robb graduated from Yale University in l9l5. He taught in China for one year and served in the armed forces for two years during World War I (l9l7-l9l9). After completing his legal training at Harvard Law School, Robb practiced law in New York City and in Europe from l922 to l94l. Musical activities and studies, particularly the art of composition, were, however, Robb's constant avocation.

In l941 Robb began his second career as professor of music and head of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico. He became acting dean of the College of Fine Arts in l942, and was appointed dean in l946. He retired from this position in l957. While at UNM, Robb was instrumental in the ultimate building of the Fine Arts Center and the establishment of a folk music archive. He was also active as a composer, while continuing to build support for contemporary music throughout the state.

During his retirement years, Robb was active primarily as a composer and lecturer, although Robb's long-time interest in law and politics prompted him to run for Congress in l960. During l962 and l963, he taught composition as a visiting professor at the National Conservatory of San Salvador under a grant from the Secretary of State, and he also made a music tour of Central America, conducting the national orchestras of Venezuela, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In later years, Robb appeared as guest conductor of various American symphony orchestras, and made several record albums featuring folk and electronic music.

Robb had been intensely interested in music since his teenage years. During his years as a lawyer, he composed music and played the cello, meeting informally with friends every week to play string quartets. He began the study of composition with Nadia Boulanger in l936 and he participated throughout his life in master classes with such leading American and European composers and teachers as Roy Harris, Paul Hindemith, Darius Milhaud, and Horatio Parker. His more than 200 compositions range from solo instrumental and vocal music to music for small and large ensembles, operas, musical plays and dances. He was also a pioneer composer of electronic music, beginning in the l950s.

Always fascinated by folk music, Robb made recordings in the field and transcribed over 3,000 songs and dances from areas as diverse as Nepal, South America, and the American southwest. This collection forms the nucleus of the more than 25,000 items that comprise the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music. One of the most extensive collections of southwestern music and oral histories, the Robb Archive is housed in the University of New Mexico's Center for Southwest Research.

Robb published numerous articles on both legal and music subjects in national and regional journals and newspapers. The first of his two books, Hispanic Folk Songs of New Mexico, was published by the University of New Mexico Press in l954. In l970 he received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation for the preparation of a book of Hispanic folk music of the Southwest. This work resulted in the publication in l980 by the University of Oklahoma Press of Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest -- a Self Portrait of a People.

John Robb received numerous honors in his lifetime. Among them was the Award for Achievement and Excellence in Music bestowed in l975 by the New Mexico Arts Commission. In l980, the UNM Alumni Association, recognizing Robb's legacy, honored him with the Bernard D. Rodey Award. In l986 the University of New Mexico granted him an honorary doctorate degree. The l989 UNM Composers' Symposium was dedicated to the memory of Robb, whose leadership and sponsorship had been in part responsible for the international scope and success of the annual symposium.

John Robb and his wife Harriet Block Robb were married in l92l. Nearly seventy years later, and within ten days of each other, John and Harriet Robb died in January l989. They were survived by three children: Priscilla McDonnell, John Robb, Jr., and Nancy Briggs, and their families.

"He's a man of a hundred hats--adventurer, sportsman..., educator, composer..., folklorist..., lawyer, traveler, writer. John D. Robb has made Albuquerque his home for many decades, but his life stretches out in all directions, both behind him and before him, in time and space like a colorful oriental carpet--refined yet brilliant, refrained and organized, yet exuberant and artistic." Daniel Gibson, Albuquerque Heights Outlook.

From the guide to the J. D. Robb Papers, 1915-1989, (University of New Mexico. Center for Southwest Research.)

John Donald Robb, professor emeritus of music and dean emeritus of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, was responsible for the growth of fine arts at UNM in the l940s and l950s and, in turn, for the impact that UNM had in the fine arts throughout the state. Robb, a composer of stage, classical, and electronic music, is also known as a collector of folk music. He was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and died in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Robb had a first career as a lawyer. Educated in eastern schools, Robb graduated from Yale University in l9l5. He taught in China for one year and served in the armed forces for two years during World War I (l9l7-l9l9). After completing his legal training at Harvard Law School, Robb practiced law in New York City and in Europe from l922 to l94l. Musical activities and studies, particularly the art of composition, were, however, Robb's constant avocation.

In l941 Robb began his second career as professor of music and head of the Department of Music at the University of New Mexico. He became acting dean of the College of Fine Arts in l942, and was appointed dean in l946. He retired from this position in l957. While at UNM, Robb was instrumental in the ultimate building of the Fine Arts Center and the establishment of a folk music archive. He was also active as a composer, while continuing to build support for contemporary music throughout the state.

During his retirement years, Robb was active primarily as a composer and lecturer, although Robb's long-time interest in law and politics prompted him to run for Congress in l960. During l962 and l963, he taught composition as a visiting professor at the National Conservatory of San Salvador under a grant from the Secretary of State, and he also made a music tour of Central America, conducting the national orchestras of Venezuela, Guatemala, and El Salvador. In later years, Robb appeared as guest conductor of various American symphony orchestras, and made several record albums featuring folk and electronic music.

From the guide to the John Donald Robb Photograph Collection, 1950-1990, (University of New Mexico Center for Southwest Research)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Introduction and toccata, [op. 30] / J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Chickenhouse tunes : for piano : [op. 13] / J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Museum of International Folk Art (N.M.). Folk music and drama of the Spanish colonist in New Mexico : field survey, 1962-1978. Museum of New Mexico Library
creatorOf J. D. Robb Papers, 1915-1989 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Personal and professional papers. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn John Donald Robb Musical Trust Records, 1975-2008 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Robb, John Donald. [Pamphlets by John Donald Robb]. Yale University Library
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Psalm ; XXIII : the Lord is my shepherd : for mixed voices and organ or piano / J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Compositions of J.D. Robb. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn Grace Thompson Edmister Photograph Collection, 1890-1980 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf John Donald Robb Photograph Collection, 1950-1990 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Eight songs / by Donald Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Wright, James B. James B. Wright collection of Southwestern Native American and Hispanic music, interviews and literary programs, 1973-1986. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Three impressions : for piano : [op. 15] / J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Folk music materials. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn John Donald Robb Musical Trust. John Donald Robb Musical Trust Records, 1975-2008. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Palomita que vienes herida : madrigal : for mixed chorus with accompaniment for organ (or piano) : based on a New Mexican folk song / J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Edmister, Grace Thompson, 1890-1984. Grace Thompson Edmister Photograph Collection [Picture] University of New Mexico-Main Campus
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Overture and fugue : piano score / by J.D. Robb. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn James B. Wright Collection of Southwestern Native American and Hispanic Music, Interviews and Literary Programs, 1973-1986 The University of New Mexico, University Libraries, Center for SouthwestResearch
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Correspondence with Marian Anderson, 1945. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Papers, 1957-1970, 1962-1965. Texas Tech University Libraries, Academic Library
referencedIn Atkins, Irene Kahn, 1922-. Major figures in American music [M-R] : [oral history]. Yale University Library
creatorOf Robb, J. D. (John Donald), 1892-1989. Papers, 1915-1989. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
referencedIn New Mexico Music Collection, 1868-1993 Fray Angélico Chávez History Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Billy, the Kid person
associatedWith Boulanger, Nadia. person
associatedWith Dance person
associatedWith Edmister, Grace Thompson, 1890-1984. person
associatedWith Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest corporateBody
associatedWith Hispanic Folk Songs of New Mexico corporateBody
associatedWith Hurd, Peter, 1904-1984. person
associatedWith John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music. corporateBody
associatedWith John Donald Robb Musical Trust. corporateBody
associatedWith Mendoza, Vicente T., 1894-1964. person
associatedWith Museum of International Folk Art (N.M.) corporateBody
associatedWith Robb, J. D., 1892- (John Donald). person
associatedWith University of New Mexico. College of Arts and Sciences. corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Mexico. College of Fine Arts. corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Mexico. Dept. of Music corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Mexico. Dept. of Music. corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Mexico. Dept. of Music. corporateBody
associatedWith University of New Mexico University. College of Fine Arts corporateBody
associatedWith Wright, James B. person
associatedWith Wright, James B. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Latin America
Taos Pueblo (N.M.)
New Mexico
Southwest, New
New Mexico
New Mexico
Albuquerque (N.M.)
New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico
Subject
Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with organ
Choruses, Sacred (Mixed voices, 4 parts) with piano
Choruses, Secular (Mixed parts, 5 parts) with organ
Choruses, Secular (Mixed parts, 5 parts) with piano
Composers
Composers
Electronic music
Folk music
Folk songs
Folk songs
Folk songs, Spanish
Folk songs, Spanish
Hispanic American art
Indians of North America
Music
Music
Music
Orchestra
Organ music
Overtures (Piano), Arranged
Piano music
Psalms (Music)
Songs (Medium voice) with piano
Symphony orchestras
Musicians
Musicians
Musicians
Theater
Artists
Canons, fugues, etc. (Piano), Arranged
Occupation
Collector
Composers
Faculty Member, College of University (education)
Musician, Instrumental
Writer, Prose, Fiction and Nonfiction
Activity

Person

Birth 1892

Death 1989-01-06

Spanish; Castilian,

English

Information

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Ark ID: w6z0465r

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