Youngstown-born American composer Donald Erb died last week. Erb, distinguished professor emeritus of composition at the Cleveland Institute of Music, was 81.
Erb was one of the pioneers of electronic music and was especially noted for his works combining electronics with traditional instruments. He played trumpet in high school and was a jazz trumpet player in the years after World War II. Many of his later works employed brass instruments. He had an intense and visceral reaction to the Cold War and Vietnam conflict, as evidenced in such works as Fallout (1964), Fission (1968), and The Purple-Roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor (1972).
Erb attended Kent State University, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in 1950. He then studied composition with Marcel Dick at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He also studied with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Bernhard Heiden at Indiana University, Bloomington. He received his Doctorate from Indiana in 1964.
Donald Erb was appointed to the CIM faculty in 1952. He was composer in residence there from 1966 to 1981, became distinguished professor of composition in 1987, and moved to emeritus status in 1996.
That same year, Erb suffered cardiac arrest. He had not been active as a composer since.
Erb leaves his wife of 58 years, Lucille; daughter Christine Hoell and son Matthew, both of Columbus; daughter Stephanie Erb of Los Angeles; daughter Janet Carroll of Rockaway, NJ; and nine grandchildren.