Mrs. Eugene McDermott’s donation created the chair in August 2000, and Rodríguez was appointed in September 2007. The chair supports the scholarly, educational, artistic, university and community services activities.
Rodríguez has recorded 13 albums featuring his own compositions, which earned him a Grammy nomination in 1999. His catalogue of more than 100 compositions is published by G. Schirmer. He has been a composer in residence with the San Antonio Symphony and Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
I was among the first arts and humanities faculty at UT Dallas in 1975. My students and colleagues have brought me many joys, especially the former students who have kept in touch over the past 36 years. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity to make music on campus with my Musica Nova ensemble and to have several of my works performed and sometimes premiered here. After the next 36 years, I will be 101, at which point I hope I can afford to retire.
Music by Dr. Robert Xavier Rodríguez has been featured in more than 2,000 performances in recent seasons by such musical organizations as the New York City Opera, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, and the Boston and Chicago symphony orchestras. Rodríguez received his early musical education in San Antonio, Austin (UT), Los Angeles (USC), Lenox (Tanglewood), Fontainebleau (Conservatoire Américain) and Paris.
Rodríguez first gained international recognition in 1971 when he was awarded the Prix de Composition Musicale Prince Pierre de Monaco by Prince Rainier and Princess Grace at the Palais Princier in Monte Carlo. Other honors include the Prix Lili Boulanger, a Guggenheim Fellowship, awards from The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, five National Education Association grants and the Goddard Lieberson Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. Most recently, Rodríguez received the Aaron Copland Award for a 2012 residency at Copland’s National Historic Landmark house in New York’s Hudson Valley.
Rodríguez has been called “one of the major American composers of his generation” by Texas Monthly. His music has been described as “romantically dramatic” by the Washington Post, “richly lyrical” by Musical America and “glowing with a physical animation and delicate balance of moods that combine seductively with his all-encompassing sense of humor” by the Los Angeles Times. His most recent commission is jointly from the Dallas Symphony and Carnegie Hall for an orchestral version of his multi-media chamber work “The Dot and the Line,” based on Norton Juster’s classic children’s book. The DSO will give the world premiere with Jamie Bernstein as narrator. The program will also include Rodríguez’s “A Colorful Symphony,” set to a text from Juster’s The Phantom Tollbooth.
Rodríguez earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music from UT Austin. He has a doctorate in musician arts from University of Southern California.