Obituary: Robert Staffanson, Springfield Symphony’s second music director, 93

Posted on: May 2, 2019

“On April 27, 2019, the same day the Springfield Symphony Orchestra performed Mahler’s Resurrection Symphony, former SSO Music Director Robert L. Staffanson passed away at the venerable age of 97 in Bozeman, Montana,” writes Clifton Noble Jr. in Wednesday’s (5/1) Republican (Springfield, MA). “The second conductor in the SSO’s 75-year history, Staffanson led the orchestra from 1955 to 1969…. [In] Staffanson’s autobiography, Witness to Spirit, My Life with Cowboys, Mozart, & Indians … published in December 2015 … Staffanson [described] his early years on an open range horse ranch along the Yellowstone River in eastern Montana…. In 1941, he enrolled in the University of Montana Music School [and studied] the violin…. Staffanson founded a symphony orchestra in Billings, Montana, and in 1953 he participated in the first-ever American Conductors Symposium with the Philadelphia Orchestra and its legendary conductor Eugene Ormandy. After Staffanson led the Philadelphia Orchestra string section in Barber’s ‘Adagio,’ Ormandy said, ‘I put my faith in you to become a great conductor.’ … The reviews of the Philadelphia concert steered him to the Springfield Symphony Orchestra.” He later returned to Montana and “went on to co-found the American Indian Institute and become a renowned advocate for Native Americans and indigenous peoples around the world.”

Posted May 2, 2019