About

Robert Maxym

Maestro Robert Maxym

R

obert 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), earning a B. Mus. in Composition, continuing immediately thereafter at the Institute des Hautes Etudes Musicales in Montreux, Switzerland (studying conducting with Rudolf Kempe) and at the Hochschule für Musik in Munich. He was a conducting fellow at Tanglewood in 1980, receiving masterclass instruction from Leonard Bernstein, Seiji Ozawa, Andre Previn, Colin Davis, and Klaus Tennstedt. 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 (1983-1993).

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 orchestras in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Durban, and Cape Town, to name but a few.

Since 1993 Maxym has made South Africa his home, attaining permanent residency in 2000. In addition to his 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”, 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/May of 2004 as part of the South African government’s “10 Years of Democracy” celebrations. UShaka premiered in the USA at the Rivonia 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 2008. “Siyakhulekela” (We are Pleading), a dramatic narrative for Zulu praise poet and orchestra, to poetry by Themba Msimang, had its world premiere in Durban in 2010. He is currently working on a Concerto for Violin, Violoncello, and Orchestra.

Robert Maxym