Wykes’ broad range of experience as a composer, performer and teacher are evident in his compositions which include symphonic and chamber music, documentary film scores and works for band, chorus, theater, modern dance, small ensemble and solo instrument. His versatility was recognized by Frank Peters, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, who observed that “Wykes, because he can do so many things well, is St. Louis’ most sought-after composer.”
Wykes, himself says, “However much the surface characteristics of my music might change, its substance has been and will remain my subjective, non-verbal thoughts about sound, silence and a myriad of personal experiences wrestled into an objective, self-sufficient work – a composition. This process of making my subjective thoughts into a verifiable object is the means by which I can best understand music, which remains for me one of humankind’s most enchanting mysteries.”
Wykes (b. 1926 in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania) began his early music training at age nine as a flutist. As a teenager, he won a Pittsburgh Young Artist’s Audition and appeared with the Pittsburgh Little Symphony as flute soloist. After military service in WWII as a combat infantryman, he attended the Eastman School of Music and completed a Master’s Degree in Music Theory. He taught at Bowling Green State University from 1950 – 1952 and played flute with the Toledo (Ohio) Symphony. He studied and taught at the University of Illinois in Urbana from 1952 –1955 and earned a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree there in 1955.
He was appointed to the music faculty of Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri in 1955 and was awarded full professorship in 1965; he received an Alumni Distinguished Faculty Award in 1976. He played flute with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1963 – 1967 and with the Studio for New Music from 1966 – 1969
Since Wykes’ retirement from teaching in 1988, he was appointed a composer-in-residence at the Djerassi Foundation in Woodside, California in 1989. He was a Visiting Scholar at the Computer Center for Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA) at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California in 1991. He continues to compose; his music is published by Fallen Leaf Press, Berkeley, California.
New CD: Flourishes and Hymn for Trombone Quartet, The Trombones of the St Louis Symphony. CONNECTIONS/ Gerry Pagano, St Louis Brass Collective. Film Music News: The classic documentary Monument to the Dream has been re-edited to the original stereo sound track, digitized and made ready to show on the IMAX screen in the theater under the St Louis Arch. The National Archives choose the film John F. Kennedy 1917-1963 for the 6th Annual Charles Guggenheim Tribute Program at the William G. McGowan Theater in Washington, D.C. Sept. 27, 2012. Both music scores are by Robert Wykes.
Three Facets of Friendship for flute and clarinet Is on CDs by the SIlverwind Duo as well as the Scott-Garrison Duo.
Celebrations, a new CD by the St. Louis Symphony Trombone Quartet includes the first recording of Flourishes and Hymn by Robert Wykes.
Flourishes and Hymn, trombone quartet; Lake Music for solo bass flute; Nine Miniatures for piano trio; For Cello for solo cello; Three Facets of Friendship for flute and clarinet; Quintet for Piano and String Quartet on Eighty-fifth Birthday Concert, sponsored by Washington University in St. Louis on 2/10.
Three Facets of Friendship, a divertimento for flute and clarinet by The Silverwind Duo, American Kaleidoscope, Emeritus, Nicole McPherson and Andrew Seigel.
Flourishes and Hymn was presented May 5, 2009, by the Saint Louis (MO) Symphony Trombone Quartet, at Washington University, Saint Louis, MO; the ensemble performed the same work later in the month at the School of Music, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, and again in November at the Danforth Center, Washington University, Saint Louis.
Three Facets of Friendship: a divertimento, for flute and clarinet; Leonard Garrison, flute and Shannon Scott, clarinet; Centaur Records.
New works by Robert Wykes include Duo for flute and mandolin and Three Winter Carols for children’s choir. Several films of the late Charles Guggenheim, with scores by Wykes, are now on deposit at the National Archives, Washington, DC. They will be shown in the Guggenheim Theater for Documentary Films on a regular schedule. Among those with music by Wykes are Robert Kennedy Remembered (1968 Academy Award), Monument to the Dream (1967 Mercuro d’Oro Venice Film Festival), and John F. Kennedy 1916-1963. DVDs are available from gpifilms.com.
Three Farewells for soloviolin was introduced May 31, 2007, by Anthony Sabberton, Royal Academy of Music,
Three Facets of Friendship, flute and clarinet; Duo AirFare. Logan, UT 2007.