The UNM John Donald Robb Musical Trust was established at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1989 by John D. and Harriet Robb.
MSC 04-2570, College Of Fine Arts, 1 University Of New Mexico
John Donald Robb (1892-1989) led a rich and varied life as an attorney, composer, arts educator, and folk song collector and preservationist. He composed an impressive body of work including symphonies, concertos, sonatas, chamber and other instrumental music, choral works, songs, and arrangements of folk songs, two operas, including Little Jo, a musical comedy, Joy Comes to Deadhorse, and more than sixty-five electronic works. Robb’s orchestral works have been played by many major orchestras in the United States and abroad under noted conductors, such as Hans Lange, Maurice Bonney, Maurice Abravanel, Leonard Slatkin, Gilberto Orellano, Yoshimi Takeda, Guillermo Figueroa, and James Richards. During his two decades as an international lawyer in New York, Robb studied composition with Horatio Parker, Darius Milhaud, Roy Harris, Paul Hindemith and Nadia Boulanger. In 1941, at the age of 49, Robb left his law career to become head of the Music Department at the University of New Mexico and served as Dean of the College of Fine Arts from 1942-57. During his tenure at UNM, Robb’s fascination with Hispanic folk music led to his recording of over 3,000 traditional Hispanic folk songs and dances from the American Southwest, and South America which formed the nucleus of the John Donald Robb Archive of Southwestern Music at the University of New Mexico. He wrote two books on the subject, including Hispanic Folk Songs of New Mexico (1954; revised edition by UNM Press, 2008) and his authoritative book Hispanic Folk Music of New Mexico and the Southwest: A Self Portrait of a People (1980). Robb received numerous honors and grants including the honorary Doctor of Music from the University of New Mexico.
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