Robert Di Domenica

Robert Di Domenica (March 4, 1927, New York City-May 20, 2013, Needham, Massachusetts) received a degree in music education from New York University in 1951 and continued private study in composition with Wallingford Riegger and Josef Schmid. He studied the flute under Harold Bennett.

As a flutist he has performed with the New York City Opera, the New York Philharmonic, the Modern Jazz Quartet and the Bach Aria Group, among others. As a teacher he has taught the flute privately and has served on the faculties of the Greenwich House Music School and the Henry Street Settlement. In 1969 he joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music and eventually became dean.

Mr. Di Domenica, a meticulous and daily composer, began composing after he served in the Navy in World War II. His first serious work, Sonata for Flute and Piano, was written in 1957. He has produced a wide variety of works. His opera The Balcony premiered at the Bolshoi, with Sarah Caldwell conducting. Among his awards are a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1972, and commissions from the Goethe Institute of Boston and the Plymouth Symphony. His Symphony 1961 has been conducted by champions of his music, Gunther Schuller and James Levine. Boston Globe critic Richard Dyer wrote in 1999 that all of his music “is marked by precision of ear, clarity of musical logic, discipline and ingenuity, and perpetual surprise. This is a composer who writes nothing for effect, who stops when he’s done, but whose music leaves an indelible impression because of its seriousness, humor, inevitability, and utter integrity.”

In 1951 he married Leona Knopf, a gifted pianist. She has been the interpreter of her husband’s piano works. She has also collaborated with him in his work, including the piano-vocal scores of The Balcony and The Scarlet Letter.  After Leona Knopf passed away in 1998, he eventually remarried to Ellen Bender, a composer, flutist and teacher.

Robert Di Domenica obituary (The Boston Globe)