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Robert B. Cantrick Remembered
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Robert B. Cantrick Remembered


Robert B. Cantrick, composer and professor emeritus of music at Buffalo State College (State University of New York), died on April 7 from complications of a stroke. His scholarly interests combined music, music theory, and philosophy, and he was at work on a book on these topics at the time of his death. Bob was a longstanding and loyal member of the ASA and attended meetings regularly until well after his retirement from teaching. Bob was a flutist and a composer. He composed symphonic, vocal, and chamber music, including Three Mimes, a chamber opera for baritone and flute, of which the New York Times wrote in 1994: “Mr Cantrick tells us among other things that mime is neither speechless nor silent, but simply another way of making conversation. Love stories and personal anguish, he seems to add, can have a coherence even when the words used to utter them don’t.” His other works included E.T.O. Rhapsody for Dance Band and Symphony Orchestra. Written in 1948, it premiered in 1987 with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Lukas Foss. In addition to his musical compositions, Bob contributed numerous articles to scholarly journals about musicology and aesthetics. The combination of music and philosophy represents an early and sustained professional interest. Bob earned a bachelor’s degree in flute and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Rochester. He received his doctorate in music composition from the University of Iowa in 1959. In the early 1950s he was an apprentice conductor under George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra, and he then taught at what is now Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh through 1955. A year before leaving Pittsburgh, he located the lost manuscript of the band version of Gustav Holst’s “Hammersmith” and restored it to the concert-band repertoire. His compositional research led him eventually to the development of the “buzz,” a recognized extended flute technique that is prominently showcased in Three Mimes. Bob taught at several other institutions before coming to Buffalo State College in 1967 as Director of Arts and Humanities. There he was Professor of Music from 1969 until his retirement in 1985. Since retirement, he had devoted himself to refining a theoretical work combining philosophy, logic, and aesthetics in a quest for a universal approach to music scholarship. Bob requested that after his death, his scholarly journals be distributed to libraries in foreign countries. Accordingly, his continuous set of the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism since 1965 has been donated to the Aesthetics Department of the Philosophy Institute of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Bob and his wife, Margaret A. Gesell, were married in 1943. His wife and a daughter, Catherine, both predeceased him. He is survived by four sons, Robert A. of Toronto, Joel W. of Boulder, Anthony G. of Seattle, and Timothy T. of Wilton, Connecticut; a daughter, Susan B. of Paris; and seven grandchildren.

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