Robert W. Smith obituary: American composer passes away after complications with cardiac surgery

In a somber moment for the world of music and education, the esteemed American composer, arranger, and educator, Robert W. Smith, passed away today at the age of 64. His death was a result of complications arising from cardiac surgery. Robert, born on October 24, 1958, in Daleville, Alabama, had left an indelible mark on the hearts and minds of those fortunate enough to know him.

Robert W. Smith’s contributions to the world of music and academia were unparalleled. He was not only a musical genius but also a dedicated husband and father. His impact extended far beyond his musical prowess; he was an exceptional human being known for his professionalism and gentlemanly demeanor.

Smith’s journey into the world of music began in Daleville, Alabama, where he graduated from high school. He pursued his passion further at Troy State University, where he played a pivotal role as the principal trumpet in the Sound of the South Marching Band. Under the mentorship of Paul Yoder, he honed his skills in composition.

In 1997, Robert W. Smith returned to his alma mater, Troy State University, as the Director of Bands, succeeding Dr. Long, his former band director who had retired. His tenure at Troy lasted for four remarkable years, during which he conducted the Sound of the South Marching Band and Symphony Band.

However, in 2001, Smith embarked on a new journey when he joined Warner Brothers Publications full-time. His role as a guest conductor and clinician took him to various corners of the globe, including a memorable engagement with the New Mexico All-State Small School band. His passion for music education and composition shone through in every endeavor he undertook.

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Scott McCormick shared  his sorrow on the death of  his colleague. He stated in his post that:

I have been in my hotel room in Atlanta for the past 10 hours trying to wrap my head and heart around the profound loss the music world has experienced with the passing of Robert W. Smith yesterday. My colleagues and I had literally just left Troy University where we originally were to be meeting with Robert and Susan about an upcoming project. He shared with me over the weekend about the medical procedure and in only Robert’s way he had gone ahead and made arrangements for us to still meet with the correct people on campus.We had just talked on the phone last week and were reminiscing about how long we had known one another. Back to his days teaching high school in Florida and having his band at the 1st fall Bands of America Grand Nationals in Jacksonville in 1980! Time goes by so fast and we need to treasure all those relationships that are so important to us.Thank you Robert for all you have done for so many, for your contributions to our profession on all levels and for being incredibly committed to your family! Rest in Peace friend! Kris and my hearts go out to Susan L. Smith, Madison W. Smith and Savannah for your profound loss. Covering you in prayer today for peace and comfort! 🙏🙏🙏

Calvin Kirby Scott also shared condulances on the reath of Roobert W. Smith:

I don’t even know where to begin. But I can say this, I am Calvin Kirby Scott because of the influence Robert W. Smith has had on my life. As a freshmen at Troy State, he saw the gift of music and singing and, literally, pulled it out of me! He put me on stage in front of thousands to use the gift of singing. And as a conductor and Drum Major, my former high school band director, John M. Hillsman and Robert, those were two of the guys I mimicked.As my band took the field for our halftime performance tonight, my phone started ringing and text messages started coming in. I was floored! My assistants, staff, and students noticed the change in my demeanor, and unfortunately, I feel that it affected our performance this evening. However, WE GOT THROUGH IT! The WORLD has lost a GIANT of a music educator! I mean a GIANT! He inspired so many of us in many ways, not just band. For years, I call him “Mr. Smith.” That was until I saw he a few years ago walking out of the University’s bookstore and I call him that, and he said “We’re colleagues, it’s Robert.” It was hard to make the transition, but he became Robert. He never treated a person or made them feel less because of who he was. He made you feel important. And for that, I’m grateful. Any time I saw him we would reminisce on my singing days with the Troy State Symphony Band. He always told me how proud of me he was, and I always fought back tears, because that was coming from “Mr. Smith,” my first college director.My heart goes out to Susan L. Smith, Savannah Cole, and Madison W. Smith and the many lives he touched. This one IS HARD!! So hard! And it hurts! But, this too, shall pass. Thank God for the many memories, music he’s written that will cause his memory and legacy to live on! Troy U will never be the same. 😢Rest Well, My Dear Friend, Robert!💙💙🤟🏾We will keep striving for the highest!

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Robert W. Smith’s influence extended beyond music, as he also held key positions in the music industry. He served as the coordinator of the Music Industry program at Troy University and held the position of Vice-President of Product Development for the C. L. Barnhouse Company and Walking Frog Records.

In 2005, Robert’s contract with Warner Bros. was terminated by Alfred Music Publishing. Despite this setback, his commitment to the world of music remained unwavering.

Today, as we bid farewell to Robert W. Smith, we remember him not only as a prolific composer and educator but as a warm-hearted individual who touched the lives of many. His legacy will continue to inspire future generations in the world of music and education.

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