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Cantrick Robert B. Cantrick (1917-2006) was born and grew up in Monroe, Michigan. He received his BA in flute from the University of Rochester, his MA in philosophy also from the University of Rochester after graduate study at Harvard, and his PhD in composition from the University of Iowa after study at Oberlin College and the University of Michigan. In 1943 he married Margaret Gesell (1916-2001, also of Monroe), with whom he had six children. During World War II, Cantrick served in the Third Army as both soldier and band conductor in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. After the war, he was active as a conductor for more than a decade, during which time he founded the Greenville Symphony Orchestra (Greenville, South Carolina), studied as an apprentice conductor under George Szell with the Cleveland Orchestra, and served on the conducting staffs of Carnegie Mellon University and the Juilliard School of Music. While at Carnegie Mellon, he located the lost manuscript of Gustav Holst's Hammersmith and restored it to the concert-band repertoire. Subsequently, he taught at Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, and served as dean of fine arts at Wisconsin State University in Stevens Point. In 1967 he became director of arts and humanities at Buffalo State College (Buffalo, New York), where he was also professor of music from 1969 until he retired in 1985. Remaining active professionally after his retirement, he continued research and development of his two-volume scholarly work, Semantics of Music Scholarship, incomplete at the time of his death.

Throughout the years, Cantrick held a number of professional honors: he was a grantee of the Carnegie Foundation, a fellow of the Berkshire Music Center, a Ford Foundation fellow, and a SUNY Research Foundation fellow. His articles appeared in The American Sociological Review, The Journal of General Education, The Quarterly of Film, Radio and Television, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, Music and Letters, and The British Journal of Aesthetics.

As a composer, Cantrick produced symphonic, vocal, and chamber music. He was a pioneer in the development of extended flute techniques, which are showcased in his work Three Mimes for flute and baritone voice. Of the premiere performance of this work in 1994, the New York Times wrote, "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 most frequently performed compositions are Three Mimes, Trio for violin, viola and cello, The Friendly Beasts, a song cycle for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, and E.T.O., Rhapsody for Dance Band and Symphony Orchestra.   E.T.O. was premiered in 1987 by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra under Lukas Foss and was performed twice by the Greenville Symphony Orchestra for the opening of its 60th anniversary season in September 2007.

© 2007 The Robert B. Cantrick Estate
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