The State University of New York at Potsdam and it’s Crane School of Music has reported the passing of Brother Robert Washburn, Theta Iota (SUNY-Potsdam) ’67. Brother Washburn earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Crane, joined its faculty in 1954, and served as its Dean from 1982 to 1985. He earned a Ph.D. in composition at the Eastman School of Music, where he worked with Howard Hanson, Bernard Rogers, and Alan Hovhaness. Additional studies in composition were with Nadia Boulanger and Darius Milhaud. His legacy consists of over 150 works, including music for the opening ceremonies at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York. He was also an expert on the music of Africa and Asia, for which he took a number of field study trips funded by the Fulbright Senior Fellowship and the African Comparative Cross-Culture Study Program. Dr. Washburn was commissioned by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia in 1972 to write a suite of “Five Songs for Male Voices” (From Heavenly Harmony; A Lament; Music, When Soft Voices Die; Hymn of Thanks; and Let the Toast Pass) for inclusion in the Diamond Anniversary Songbook, published in 1973, and was also commissioned by the Fraternity in 1977 to write the piece Sinfonia per Sinfonia, a unique piece for variable combinations of instruments and voices, which was performed at the 1978 Regional Conventions.
Click here for additional details on his life and contributions. The Fraternity extends its condolences to Brother Washburn’s friends and family, while we celebrate his significant contributions to Sinfonia, American music, and education.