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Robert M. Palmer

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Robert M. Palmer Obituary
ROBERT M.
PALMER

ITHACA - Cornell University Profesor Emeritus, Robert M. Palmer passed away peacefully at Beechtree Care Center in Ithaca, NY at 9:35 PM on Saturday, July 3rd, 2010. He was 95 years old. Robert formerly resided at 108 Valley Rd. in Ithaca, NY
Robert M. Palmer was born on June 2, 1915 in Syracuse, NY. He married his loving wife of 60 years, Alice Westcott Palmer, also of Syracuse, on May 25, 1940. Robert is survived by his daughter and son-in-law, Anne and David Plaine of Ithaca; grandchildren, Corinna Plaine and Gabriel Plaine of Ithaca; great-granddaughter, Sofia Diorio, also of Ithaca; brother, Gordon Palmer of Rochester, NY; and sister, Claire Carpenter of Syracuse. He was predeceased by his loving wife, Alice Westcott Palmer (d. 2000); his daughter, Alison Heinicke (d. 1989); and his brother, Richard Palmer.
Robert M. Palmer received both Bacelors and Masters degrees in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester. He studied with notable American composers, Bernard Rogers, Howard Hanson, Roy Harris, and Aaron Copland. His first teaching job was at the University of Kansas where he taught Theory, Piano and Composition from 1940 - 1943. From 1943 to his retirement in 1980, Professor Palmer taught Music Composition and Theory at Cornell University at the Graduate School level where he influenced several generations of important American composers who have taken positions in universities across the world. In 1976 he became the Given Foundation Professor of Music Composition.
Professor Palmer was a prolific composer of modern American music, composing over 90 pieces in his lifetime, ranging from expressive Piano Epigrams to fully orchestrated Symphonies. His works have been performed all over the world and many have been recorded. His body of work now resides in the Cornell Music Department Library and is preserved in the Cornell University Archives at Olin Library. Palmer's principal works include 3 Piano Sonatas, Sonatas for Violin, Viola, Cello, Trumpet, Flute and Piano, 5 String Quartets, 2 Quartets for Piano and Strings, 2 Symphonies, a Piano Concerto, and an Oratorio for Male Chorus and Symphonic Brass called "Nabuchodonosor". Among his Vocal Works are 2 Cycles for voices and chamber ensembles.
Professor Palmer was honored with many awards and fellowships, including the National Academy of Arts and Letters in 1946, The Guggenheim Fellowship in 1952 and 1960, The Fulbright Senior Research Grant for Italy in 1960, and the National Endowment for the Arts in 1980. His many Commissions include CBS- 1940, Koussevitsky Foundation- 1942, Minneapolis Orchestra- 1946, Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge Foundation- 1950, Quincy Illinois Society of Fine Arts- 1962, Stanley Foundation of the University of Michigan- 1954, Fromm Foundation- 1956, National Association of Educational Broadcasters- 1959, Grinell College- 1960, Trinity Cathedral of Cleveland- 1962, Cornell Wind Ensemble- 1968, Galzio Quartet of Caracas, Venezuela- 1973, Ramon Salvatore- 1979, and the Kindler Foundation of Washington DC- 1983.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday July 24, 2010 at 11:00AM at Bangs Funeral Home in Ithaca, NY. For more information please call David Plaine at 814-525-9582. Please send Flowers to the Funeral Home, or a Donation to: The Foundation of Light, 391 Turkey Hill Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850.

Published in Ithaca Journal from July 5 to July 7, 2010
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