Robert W. Smith Biography
Robert W. Smith is an American composer, arranger, and teacher. He was born in the small town of Daleville, Alabama in 1958. He attended high school in Daleville under the direction of Clifford "Ski" Winter, for whom he would later compose, under commission, Through the Vulcan's Eye. After high school, Smith attended Troy State University, where he played lead trumpet in the Sound of the South Marching Band, under the direction of Dr. John M. Long. While at Troy, he studied composition with Dr. Paul Yoder.
Upon his graduation from Troy State with a Bachelor of Music Education degree, Smith pursued his musical career in South Florida, particularly in Miami, where he earned the Master's degree in Media Writing and Production from the University of Miami, while studying with Dr. Alfred Reed. His talents as an arranger and composer were soon recognized by Columbia Pictures Publications and later Warner Bros./Belwin Publications. Smith's career with Warner Bros. continued until 2005, when Warner Bros. Publications was bought out by Alfred Publications.
In 1997, Smith arrived in Troy, Alabama once again, this time to become the Director of Bands at Troy State University, following the full retirement of his old band director, Dr. Long. Smith would remain at Troy for four years, directing the Sound of the South Marching Band and the Symphony Band. In 2001, he left Troy to take a more full-time position with Warner Brothers Publications. His position with Warner since leaving Troy has taken him all over the world, acting as guest conductor and clinician with many of the world's finest ensembles.
Currently, Smith has over 600 published works, including two symphonies. Symphony No. 1, The Divine Comedy, was inspired by Dante's epic, which Smith studied while at Troy. Symphony No. 2, The Odyssey, was inspired by Homer's epic, which he also studied at Troy.
The story behind The Divine Comedy is particularly interesting. The fourth movement, entitled Paradiso, has as its theme the melody to a certain chorale warmup that Smith first played in the band program at Troy. Dr. Paul Yoder was a frequent visitor to Troy, and he had written a series of exercises for bands to play. Each exercise was titled by letter of the alphabet, and letter "I" was a short, yet beautiful, chorale. Smith decided that the tune was a fitting way to pay tribute to the school at which he first encountered Dante's Divine Comedy, and so it became the basis for the horn choir in the beginning of the Paradiso movement of Symphony No. 1.
Among Smith's most highly-acclaimed works is 12 Seconds to the Moon, which depicts man's dream and ultimate reality of conquering flight. In ten minutues of brilliant fanfares, lush chorales, and even a portrayal of the Wright brothers' workshop, the listener is taken from the beginnings of flight up to the rocket age of space travel.
Smith has also composed two works dedicated to solo instruments – contemporary concertos for the flute family, and the euphonium. These are Gemeinhardt Suite, and Willson Suite respectively. They aren’t some of his well-known works, but are still large in scope, and high in difficulty.
Perhaps Smith's best known piece however is the famous "Into The Storm," which was written to commemorate the great 1993 winter storm that brutalized the eastern United States. This piece is often worked into various themes and reset in different ensembles such as a version played by an orchestra, substituting the flute ostinato as a violin part; or otherwise used as a part of a marching band show (See Sandy Creek Marching Band).
In addition to composing for bands, Smith has enjoyed much success writing for the drum and bugle corps. His first great success came in the mid-1980s while he was writing for the Suncoast Sound, from Clearwater, Florida -- a tenure which included Suncoast's 1985 program, "A Florida Suite," the first completely original musical program ever done by a drum corps. He would later go on to write for Magic of Orlando for several years. He currently writes for the Glassmen Drum and Bugle Corps, of Toledo, Ohio. Around 2002, Robert and his wife Susan L. Smith began to work on a new project. Susan has long wanted to write a fully integrated music curriculum that would begin in elementary school and take students all the way through high school. A design team of several of the best music educators was assembled, and the result was Music Expressions.