The Kennedy Center

Donald Erb


A prominent American composer, conductor and distinguished Professor, Donald Erb was born in Youngstown, Ohio in 1927. His orchestral compositions have been played by major orchestras nationally and internationally. His interest in electronic music at an early age resulted the introduction of live synthesizers and acoustic instruments in chamber music. This was accomplished in his work "Reconnaissance," (1965) which debuted in New York in Music in Our Time with Robert Moog. This was also presented in Montreal Expo '67, thereafter on Monday Evening Concerts in Los Angeles. His work in jazz came from his early experience as jazz trumpeter.

Donald Erb took his Bachelors Degree (B.S.) from Kent University, his Masters (M.M.) from Cleveland Institute of Music and his Doctorate (D.M.) from Indiana University. He is a very renowned and accomplished Professor in Composition at Cleveland Institute of Music, Southern Methodist University and at Melbourne University for more than thirty years. As visiting lecturer, he had given master classes, lectures and concerts in more than 100 colleges and Universities nationally. A recipient of grants and fellowships from well known institutes as Rockefeller, Ford Foundations, Aaron Copland, Guggenheim and many others, including the National Endowment for the Arts, he also served as Composer-in-Residence at several institutes in the United States, Australia, and Rome.

His famous work, The Seventh Trumpet, chosen as the country’s representative to UNESCO in 1970, gathered more than two hundred performances by more than fifty orchestras, nationally and internationally. Major orchestras like The Chicago Symphony, The Cleveland Orchestra, The Baltimore Symphony, St. Louis Symphony and many others, commissioned his work. His orchestral work had been performed by well known artist such as Stuart Dempster, Lyn Harrell and many others. His chamber music has been performed in world renowned series as Darmstadt, Tanglewood and the Group for Contemporary Music, as well as Warsaw Autumn Festival.

Currently he is now a Distinguished Professor of Composition at The Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as Composer-in-Residence with the St. Louis Symphony. He is credited for his major writings on Orchestration for Encyclopedia Britannica.
Donald Erb