Robert Maxym was born in New York, and received his B.A. in History from Swarthmore College in 1969. He received musical training at the Manhattan School of Music in New York (1972-1974) [B. Mus. Composition], continuing immediately thereafter at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Musicales in Montreux, Switzerland (conducting with Rudolf Kempe) and the Hochschule fuer Musik in Munich. He was a Conducting Fellow at Tanglewood in 1980, receiving masterclass instruction from Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Sir Colin Davis, Klaus Tennstedt, and Andre Previn. As conductor, Maxym has held numerous positions, including First Conductor at the State Theatre of Lower Saxony in Hannover (1980-84), and Associate Music Director, then Music Director of the Essen Opera (1985-1991). He was Founder and Chairman of the International Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari Society in Duesseldorf, Germany, (1985-1993).
Guest conducting engagements have taken him all over the world, and have included the opera theatres of Cologne, St. Petersburg, Bremen, Poznan, Sao Paulo, and Pretoria, symphony and radio concerts with the RSO Berlin, Kirov Academic Orchestra St. Petersburg, Guerzenich Orchestra Cologne, Essen Philharmonic, RSO Luxembourg, Orchestra A. Scarlatti della RAI Naples, and the variously-named South African Orchestras in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and Capetown, to name but a few.
Since 1993, Robert Maxym has made South Africa his home, attaining permanent residency in 2000. In addition to his continuing conducting activities, he has also worked towards educational and cultural upliftment through music in many ways among the disadvantaged communities of the Gauteng area. As an orchestrator and composer, his epic collaboration with Mzilikazi Khumalo and Themba Msimang on the orchestration of “UShaka” (1994-99) has been followed by two other major projects, the orchestration of three choruses by Todd Matshikiza (1996-98), on the initiative of the composer’s son, John, and the musicological reconciliation and orchestral enhancement of Jacqueline Martens’ 1955 opera, “Children of Africa” (2000-02) at the urging of the composer’s grandson and prominent South African cellist, Peter Martens. The first international tour of “UShaka” to Europe took place in April and May of 2004 as part of the South African Government’s “10 Years of Democracy” celebrations. “Ushaka” premiered in the USA at the Ravinia Festival in June, 2006.
Maxym completed the composition of his“Concerto for Didjeridu and Orchestra” in collaboration with soloist Stephen Kent of California, USA in late 2007.
"Siyakhulekela", dramatic narrative for Zulu praise poet and orchestra: text - CT Msimang.