Robert Wykes (1926-2021) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Robert Wykes (1926-2021)

Historical Note:

Robert Wykes was an American composer and flutist born May 19, 1926 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania. He began playing the flute at age 9 and appeared with the Pittsburgh Little Symphony as a teenager. After serving in the United States Army during World War II, Wykes attended the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York to study music theory, earning his Master's degree in 1950. From 1950-1952, he was on faculty at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and played flute with the Toledo Symphony Orchestra. From 1952-1955, he continued his studies at the Univeristy of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, earning hist Doctor of Musical Arts in 1955. In adddition to studying music composition with Burrill Phillips and music theory with Hubert Kessler, Wykes also taught music theory during his time at UIUC.

In 1955, he joined the music faculty at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, where he taught until his retirement in 1988. Some of his students included Oliver Nelson, Jocy de Oliveira, Rhian Samuel, and Olly Wilson. From 1963-1967, Wykes played flute with the St. Louis Symphony and with the Studio for New Music from 1966-1969. From 1990-1991, he undertook research as a visiting scholar at Stanford Univerisity. Additional achievements of Wykes' include having his orchestral works performed throughout the country, scoring several films, and recieving awards and honors including the Distinguished Faculty Award from Washington University in 1976. Wykes died in St. Louis, Missouri on June 29, 2021.


Otten, Liam. “Obituary: Robert Wykes, Professor Emeritus of Music, 95: Celebrated Composer Scored ‘Monument to the Dream.’” Washington University in St. Louis - The Source - The Record, July 19, 2021.

“The Music Makers: 75 Years of Composition and Performance, with a Tribute to Robert Wykes.” Washington University in St. Louis - Arts & Sciences - Department of Music, August 25, 2023.

Note Author: Sandy Kroeker

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