Robert Wykes

(b. 19 May 1926, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania – d. 29 June 2021, St. Louis, Missouri).

American composer of mostly orchestral, chamber and choral works that have been performed in the Americas and elsewhere.

Prof. Wykes began studying flute at age 9. He later studied music theory at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where he earned his MMus. He then studied composition with Burrill Phillips and music theory with Hubert Kessler at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1952–55 and there earned his DMA.

Among his honours were the Distinguished Faculty Award from Washington University in St. Louis (1976), an honourable mention for the Kennedy Center Friedheim Award (1980, for A Lyric Symphony), a stint at the Djerassi Artists Residency in Woodside, California (1989), and the National Flute Association Newly Published Music Award (1992, for Three Facets of Friendship: A Divertimento); in addition, he wrote the music for Robert Kennedy Remembered, which won the Academy Award for Best Live Action Short Film (1968). He received commissions from conductor Eleazar de Carvalho, the National Endowment for the Arts, New Music Circle in St. Louis, the Paderewski Foundation in Boston, Massachusetts, the Pro Arte Orchestra in New York, New York, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, flutists Jan Scott and Albert Tipton, Mark Twain Bank in St. Louis, and the University of Chicago. His music has been performed in Brazil, Canada, South Africa, Spain, the UK, and the USA.

He was also active in other positions. He played flute as a child and later served as a flutist in the Toledo Symphony Orchestra in Ohio from 1950–52, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra from 1963–67 and the Studio for New Music in St. Louis from 1966–69.

He taught composition and music theory at Bowling Green State University in Ohio from 1950–52 and music theory at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign from 1952–55. He then taught composition at Washington University in St. Louis from 1955–88, where he was a full professor from 1965–88, later emeritus. He subsequently undertook research as a visiting scholar at Stanford University in 1990–91.

His primary publisher is Fallen Leaf Press.





The Prankster (chamber opera in 1 act, libretto by the composer, after a traditional folk tale from the USA), soprano, baritone, piano, 1951

Music for Dance, piano 4 hands, 1954


Divertimento for Chamber Orchestra, small orchestra, 1949

Sinfonia, 1949

Concertino for Piano and Band, piano, symphonic band, 1958

Density III, 1960

Concertino for Flute, Oboe, Piano, and Strings, flute, oboe, piano, string orchestra, 1963

Wave Forms and Pulses, 1964

Horizons for Small Orchestra, small orchestra, 1964

The Shape of Time, 1965

Locations, percussion, symphonic band, 1967

Resonances, 1971

Towards Time's Receding, 1972

A Shadow of Silence, 1972

Western Wyndes, symphonic band, 1974

Fanfare for Orchestra (Time of the West), 1976

A Lyric Symphony, 1980

Pairs: A Second Symphony, Part I, small orchestra (2 flutes, 2 trumpets, harp, piano, 2 percussion, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass), 1981

Celebration Fanfare, small orchestra (13 brass, timpani, percussion), 2004


Suite for Woodwinds, oboe, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 1949

Six Pieces for Six Players, flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet, trombone, violin, 1950

Trio for Oboe, Clarinet and Bassoon, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 1950

Seven Short Duets for Violins, 2 violins, 1953

Sonata for Flute and Piano, flute, piano, 1955, revised 1982

Concerto for Eleven Instruments, flute, oboe, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, trombone, 2 violins, viola, cello, double bass, 1956

Quintet for Piano and String Quartet, piano, string quartet, 1960

Transforms II, percussion, fixed media (2 tracks), 1962

Density IV, harp, 1968

Cheirality for String Quartet or Fantasy in a Time of War, string quartet, 1969

Fantasy for Solo Flute, flute, 1970

A Winter Song, trombone, 1976

Duo for Violin and Harp, harp, violin, 1982

For Cello, cello, 1982, revised 1988

Three Concert Etudes for Solo Flute, flute, 1989

In Memoriam Oliver Nelson, flute, piano, 1990

Three Facets of Friendship: A Divertimento, flute, clarinet, 1991

Nine Miniatures (Three Sets of Three), violin, cello, piano, 1993

Flourishes and Hymn, 4 trombones, 2001

Colors of Coastal Maine, 4 trumpets, 2002

Four Portraits, 4 flutes, 2003

Three Farewells, violin, 2006

Duo, flute, mandolin, 2008


Ceremony after a Fire-Raid (text by Dylan Thomas), mixed chorus, orchestra, 1955

Letter to the Night (text by Lloyd Frankenberg), mixed chorus, piano, 1956

Four American Indian Lyrics (texts from a Yokuts poem [translated by Mary Hunter Austin], Chippewa poems [translated by Alice Corbin Henderson]), mixed chorus, 1958

Excerpendum (text from syllables), 16 mixed voices, 4 French horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, 1958

Therefore Now Let it Please Thee (text from the Bible), mixed chorus, organ, 1971

Adequate Earth (text by Donald Finkel), baritone, 2 speakers, 3 mixed choruses, orchestra, 1975

Three Choral Miniatures (texts from Chippewa poems [translated by Gerald Vizenor], the composer, after Chippewa poems), mixed chorus, 1992

For You Shall Go Out with Joy (text from the Bible), female chorus, 2 trumpets, harp, organ, 1992

Three Winter Carols (text by the composer), children's chorus, 2012


Suite for Soprano and Three Woodwinds (text by Lloyd Frankenberg), soprano, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 1961

Now Haue Gud Day (text from an anonymous mediaeval poem), alto, tenor, recorder, portative organ, 1961

Letter to an Alto-Man (text by Donald Finkel), speaker, flute, piano, harp, percussion, 1967 (also version for speaker, mixed chorus, orchestra, 1967)

The White-tailed Kite (text by the composer), soprano, piano, 1993

Lake Music (text by the composer), speaker, alto flute/bass flute, 2003


Four Studies, 1958

Fantasy No. 2, 1974

One More than Two Miniatures, 1992 (contribution to anthology Various Leaves)


Transforms I, 1961


Time of the West, 1964 (Richard T. Heffron)

Children Without, 1965 (Charles Guggenheim)

Monument to the Dream, 1967 (Charles Guggenheim)

Robert Kennedy Remembered, 1968 (Charles Guggenheim)

The Journey of Lyndon Johnson, 1974 (Charles Guggenheim)

MoPac Delivers, 1975 (William Schwartz)

The Eye of Jefferson, 1977 (Werner Schumann)

John F. Kennedy: 1917–1963, 1979 (Charles Guggenheim)

Water: The Source of Life, 1984 (Werner Schumann)

The Making of Liberty, 1986 (Charles Guggenheim)