Kelly, Robert (1916-2007) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Kelly, Robert (1916-2007)

Historical Note:

Robert Kelly was born September 26, 1916, at Clarksburg, WV and died in 2007 in Urbana, Illinois. He studied violin at an early age and later majored in violin at the Juilliard School of Music under Samuel Gardner. He studied composition with Rosario Scalero at The Curtis Institute of Music where he received his Bachelor of Music Degree in Composition. Much later he continued studies with Herbert Elwell at the Eastman School of Music where he received his Master of Music Degree in Composition.

From 1946-76 he was Professor of Composition and Theory at the University of Illinois School of Music, Urbana, Illinois. Many of his compositions were composed and performed in this period. Notable ones include: Miniature Symphony (Symphony No. 1) premiered by the Austin Symphony, Ezra Rachlin, conductor, and later with Rafael Kubelik conducting this Miniature Symphony on one of the University of Illinois Contemporary Arts Festivals. Later performances include a performance of the Miniature Symphony by the Cleveland Orchestra, George Szell conducting. Kelly's Symphony No. 2 was premiered in Tokyo, Japan by the Japan Philharmonic Orchestra, Akeo Watanabe conducting. The Emancipation Symphony (Symphony No. 3) was premiered in Washington DC by the National Symphony in 1963, the 100th Anniversary Year of the Emancipation Proclamation. Walden Pond, an Environmental Cantata for Mixed Choir, Percussion Ensemble, Flute, Soprano, and Narrator was premiered by the University of Illinois Concert Choir and Percussion Ensemble conducted by Harold Decker.


"Robert Kelly." Sigma Alpha Iota International Music Fraternity. (accessed October 19, 2009)

Kelly, Robert. The Evolution of an American Composer. Urbana, IL: Self-published, 1998.

Note Author: Noah Lenstra

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