Heard on Ann Delisi's Essential Conversations

Solving Mysteries in Music History With DSO Librarian Robert Stiles

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Image credit: Weston Mackinnon via Unsplash

In this episode of Essential Conversations, Robert Stiles talks about discovering the unknown works of a virtuosic composer, and being the music librarian for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

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Robert Stiles is the music librarian at the Detroit Symphony Orchestra where he finds and secures music rights and scores for the orchestra.

Stiles started out as a double bassist. His passion for the instrument led him to pursue a doctorate in musical arts from University of Texas, Austin.

While working toward that degree, Stiles discovered 29 unknown works from virtuosic double bassist and composer Serge Koussevitzky, who was the music director at the Boston Symphony Orchestra from 1924-1949, and founded the Tanglewood Music Center there in 1940.

For his dissertation, Stiles pieced Koussevitzky’s newly discovered works together and confirmed that five works rumored to be Koussevitzky’s were indeed his.

In 2004, Stiles became the Principal Librarian for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.

In his role as music librarian, Stiles puts his knowledge of music history and U.S. copyright law to work, finding and securing the rights and scores for the symphony’s performances.

In this episode:

  • Robert Stiles on working as the music librarian for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra
  • The pleasures and pitfalls of playing bass
  • Stiles’ discovery of 29 unknown works from Serge Koussevitzky
  • The business side of securing music rights for a symphony orchestra
  • Replacing paper scores with iPads

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Ann Delisi, Host, Ann Delisi’s Essential Music

Ann Delisi hosts Essential Music, the Essential Conversations podcast series and the Essential Cooking broadcast and podcast. Born and raised in the Motor City, Ann is a broadcaster, interviewer, producer, music host, storyteller and proud Detroiter.

anndelisi@wdet.org Follow @anndelisimusic

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