Robert Conant
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Robert S. Conant Greenfield Center, NY - Robert Scott Conant passed away in his home on the evening of December 27, 2013 at the age of 85. He died peacefully in his sleep, surrounded by his loving family and cherished cats. He is survived by Nancy J. Conant, his wife of 54 years, daughter Elizabeth Scott Conant, son Andrew Frederick Conant and also his beloved ten year old grandson, Elihu Scott Conant-Haque, all of whom live in Greenfield Center, New York, as well as nephew David Conant of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania; nephew Douglas Conant of Champaign, Illinois; grandnephews Matthew and Gregory Conant and sister-in-law, Jean Conant of Holiday, Florida. He is predeceased by his father, Frederick Banks Conant, mother Bessie (Scott) Conant, brother David and niece Susan. Robert and Nancy Conant were married at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Manhattan on October 10th, 1959, Fr. David Gillespie presiding. Though seven years apart in age, Bob and Nancy shared the same birthday. Robert Conant was born on January 6th, 1928 in Passaic, New Jersey. His father was a judge, his mother a talented pianist. He attended Choate, where on a school trip to Manhattan to hear a concert by the iconic harpsichordist Wanda Landowska, he was first inspired to dedicate himself to the study and performance of the harpsichord. Mr. Conant went on to receive undergraduate and graduate degrees from Yale University, class of ’48 and ’56 respectively, where he would later teach as well as become curator of the Yale Instrument Collection. Mr. Conant made his professional debut at Town Hall in Manhattan in 1951. He later taught at Chicago Musical College of Roosevelt University under Rudolph Ganz, from which he retired in 1986. Mr. Conant performed and recorded with many groups and individuals here and abroad including the American Bach Society, The Collegium Musicum, Robert Shaw Chorale, the Viola da Gamba Trio of Basel with August Wenzinger and Hannelore Mueller, the Alfred Deller Trio, Henryk Szeryng, Fritz Rikko, Paul Doktor, Janos Scholz, Renato Bonacini, Josef Marx and Kenneth Slowik. Mr. Conant was a pioneer of the early music revival of the post World War II years, promoting the use of historically accurate instruments and tunings. Mr. Conant created the Foundation for Baroque Music in 1959, and began to host an annual concert series, The Festival of Baroque Music, the first several of which took place at the Seagle Music Colony in Schroon Lake, NY, and which later moved to its permanent home in The Studio in Greenfield Center, NY, an open-plan concert hall designed for its superb acoustics. The Festival of Baroque Music ran continuously for 52 years, concluding in July of 2011. In addition to his love for early music he was an avid supporter of twentieth century music and commissioned several new compositions for harpsichord. He received a Lifetime Award from Yale University as well as a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Saratoga Arts Council. When appearing before an audience, Robert spoke with masterful eloquence as few can. Bob entertained friends and family with his great talent for hilarious, spot-on impersonations and will be remembered by everyone who knew him for his ever-present sense of humor, cheerful demeanor and endearing smile. Robert loved all things beautiful, sonorous and poetic, and he lives on through our enjoyment of great music and art. The family would like to express their deepest appreciation for the exceptional level of care given by hospice workers. In lieu of flowers, friends may make donations to The Community Hospice of Saratoga, 179 Lawrence St., Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 in Robert’s name. There will be no formal visitation. Arrangements are under the direction of the William J. Burke & Sons/Bussing & Cunniff Funeral Homes of 628 North Broadway, Saratoga Springs (584-5373). Online remembrances may be made at

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Published in The Saratogian from Dec. 30 to Dec. 31, 2013.
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Memories & Condolences
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19 entries
December 23, 2020
At the end of this difficult year one realizes how much music have helped. On this very day, decorating the "tree" I shall now go play my Robert Conan record in honour of him and celebrating Christmas for what it really is!
Jens Hoeg
December 23, 2019
Dear All; I came to know Robert Conant by means of a second hand (but mint condition) old LP featuring Robert playing harpsichords in the YALE collection. It immediately streamed out of the speakers that here was a very special person; a erson to keep in your mind because he gave so much to music and to his friends and all that listened. I am happy to have come to know Robert and the LP is still treasured. Jens Hoeg, Herlev, Denmark
Jens Hoeg
February 28, 2018
I found this obituary page today after searching on Prof. Robert Conant's name. The reason was my listening to an LP in my collection called the "Yale collection of musical instruments Vol 1". Here on this vintage stereo LP Mr. Conant plays a Hass and a Taskin harpsichord. While listening to his playing side B with L. Couperin, F. Couperin and Froberger he almost immediately came to be as a friend, and I almost felt him there with me in the room. Having never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Conant except through this cherished LP, I wish to add my sincere gratitude for the joy he has already given me though his dedication to music. I understand I am far from alone in those feelings. What a fantastic thing that he apperebtly also practised modern music written for the harpsichord!
Sincerely Jens T Hoeg, Herlev, Denmark
Jens Hoeg
May 18, 2016
In 1970 I was a student at Chicago Musical College, and Professor Conant taught an introduction to non-Western musics course, which gave rise to first thoughts of becoming an ethnomusicologist. One day he took me aside and asked what I planned to do after I graduated.

"Whatever graduates do, I suppose," said I.

"I think you should get out of here and go make your own music," said he.

Really? I asked.

Yes, really.

"REALLY?," I asked again.


So I did, and thereby unfolded a decade of critically successful and financially uneven work, writing music for theatre, dance and film in the U.S. and western Europe. I returned to school in 1979, earned B.A. (Music Composition), M.A. (Music Theory) and Ph.D.(Ethnomusicology) degrees from three different campuses of the University of California. I've been privileged to have many musical adventures and roles along the way. Since 1998 I've worked as an applied ethnomusicologist at the national museum's nonprofit record label, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings.

Robert Conant saw something in me that I could not see, and believed in me. I am grateful to him for opening gateways to my deeply satisfying and creative professional life.
D. A. Sonneborn
April 2, 2014
Robert & I were friends - he was with soul - we spend many moments together - between his classes & my responsibilities
as Adm. Sec . to the Dean of CMC. exchanging thoughts & words.
He was a great mind as well as a wonderful artist. J. Hilliard-Hanlon
J. Hilliard-Hanlon
January 4, 2014
So sorry to hear of Mr. Conant's passing. I was a student at Roosevelt in the later years of his tenure. His inspiring performances were the first exposure many of us had to the greatness of early music in the hands of a master. My only class with him, surprisingly, was Music In The 20th Century, which I remember it as a truly delightful experience in which his colloquial style helped me to appreciate modernism more than some teachers who specialized in that era. I keep smiling more with every memory, from our classroom performance of a John Cage piece to his cheerful exam-time admonition to "please leave your shovels outside". All my best to Robert's family and many, many friends.
Elliot Haber
January 3, 2014
Bob kept the community in touch with an important part of its cultural heritage. He did so with intelligence, wit and good humor - not to mention superb scholarship. I miss his celebrations of early music and dance; and I am grateful for his seemingly brief presence among us.
Rolfe Lawson
January 3, 2014
So sorry to hear of Bob's passing. I had an opportunity to meet him as a performer with the Smithsonian Viol Consort on his series. He was so gracious, knowledgeable, selfless and whimsical, and I felt at home immediately in his presence. That brief meeting will always remain vivid in my memory when I think of Bob and his legacy.
Patricia Ann Neely
January 2, 2014
Nancy, Elizabeth, and Andrew this was such sad news. We look back on fondest memories of all those good times at the Studio, around Saratoga, and at your home. Always wonderful music and hospitality. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Ellen G. Scott and Nancy Kern
January 2, 2014
Nancy and family, We are so sorry to hear of Bob's death. He taught our son to love music when Garth worked for him. He still plays his CD's with fond memories. We all enjoyed his Sunday concerts-- Not to mentions that he put Greenfield on the map. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
BJ and Bill Fisher
January 1, 2014
Hi Nancy - so sorry to hear about Bob's passing. I'll never forget the private concerts with he and Frank "at the Farm", very much a part of the memories of our lives. Our condolences. David and Phyllis Lyons
January 1, 2014
Nat and I have such lovely memories of summer concerts performing with Bob- he will be sorely missed.
Kerry Ryer-Parke
December 31, 2013
I am so sorry to read about the loss of your Dad. Thoughts and prayers to you and your family.
Ann Mullaly
December 31, 2013
On behalf of my former colleagues at WRPI, we extend our condolences to Robert's family. He was a great guy, and we recorded his FBM series on many occasions in the 1980s for the radio station
Don Drewecki
December 31, 2013
Bob graced us all with his music, his humor, his laughter, his empathy. His contribution to the landscape of music cannot be overestimated. Thank you Bob for all you were and all you gave.
Sandy Hackney
December 31, 2013
I remember Robert as a dapper dresser and gentle soul, in addition to being dynamite on the keyboard. I will miss his humor and music making!
December 31, 2013
Dear Nancy, Elizabeth and family,
Please accept my condolences on Robert's passing. I fondly remember the days of the Foundation and those fabulous summer concerts. You are in my thoughts.
Mark E. Baker
December 31, 2013
Dear Liz and Family,

I was so saddened to learn of your father's passing. Please know that my heart goes out to all of you during this very difficult time.

I remember meeting your father several times while we were at NTE plus I enjoyed hearing him play the harpsichord. I believe he even came to School to perform for us.

I wish we lived closer so I can give you a big hug.

I'm thinking of you and send my love.
Elizabeth Kretchmer
December 30, 2013
Nancy, Elizabeth and Andrew,
You are all in my thoughts. We so appreciated your hospitality when we came to visit after you moved back east. The first time we visited in 1987 Robert's amusing line of the moment was "gotta get a gig." We suggested playing locally some recent popular songs such as "You give love a bad name." Much hilarity ensued... I also had some great phone conversations with him, most notably when Nancy was in Evanston for Elihu's birth - although I believe Elihu had not yet appeared as anticipated.

My love to you all.
Carol Gordon
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