In Memory of:
Robert Davine
Professor of Accordion and Music Theory
photo of Robert DavineAs Professor of Accordion and Theory at the Lamont School of Music of the University of Denver, Robert Davine founded the school's accordion department in the late 1950s and was still an active professor at Lamont when he died at age 77 on November 25, 2001.

At the university he developed what was to be one of the three major academic programs in accordion study in the US. These distinguished programs were available at the University of Houston under Bill Palmer and Bill Hughes, the University of Missouri at Kansas City directed by Joan Cochran Sommers and the University of Denver under Robert Davine. The course was titled "Artist Dimploma in Concert Accordion Performance" and information about the course that was offered can be seen from a 1998 internet page about the course.

As a renowned teacher, Davine influenced the lives of countless music students, some of whom went on to fame in their own right as music educators and performers. He was viewed as a master teacher of critical analytical thinking, who encouraged his students to look beyond the notes on the page. He was an adamant supporter of all styles of music.

“He proved himself to be one of the world’s greatest accordionists” said William Popp, the US Air Force accordionist who studied his instrument with Davine at the University of Denver. “Never an elitist, he taught popular accordion as well as the concert accordion,” according to Anne Culver, former director of DU’s Lamont School of Music.

Davine was “a master musician and a superb instructor,” says Dr. David Lindsey, music educator at North Texas State University. Lindsey began study with Davine when he was only 12 and continued as his student until he earned his master’s at DU.

Robert Davine was awarded DU’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999, at which time he was lauded for “his musicianship, his dedication and his ability to relate to students through several generations.” In 1997, he was the recipient of a certificate of Distinguished Alumnus from Northwestern University.

As the People’s Republic of China broadened its program of music for the accordion, it sought out master musicians within the accordion field and in 1984, Robert Davine was invited to present Master Classes. He was one of the first western music authorities to influence the development of accordionists in China and many Chinese students eventually came to Denver to study music with him and other professors at DU.

Joan Cochran Sommers, President of the Accordionists and Teachers Guild, says that “Davine’s death leaves a void in the educational field of both the accordion and the area of music theory. His work raised the level of accordion playing in the US and, also, in China through his influence with his Chinese students. He was a thorough musician as evidenced in all his performances as a soloist or member of various chamber groups and orchestras.”

He never ceased to enjoy his work, and while most people are eager to retire in their mid-60s, Davine was still dynamic at 77, with no plans to slow down. When illness struck, he weathered surgery and critical procedures, and returned to the work he loved.

American Accordionists’ Association President Dr. Carmelo Pino notes that “Robert Davine was a professor with great pedagogic skills and an accordionist of virtuoso level. He will be remembered and admired as a man of great character, beloved and respected by students and peers for his positive influences.”

Davine’s career as an educator ran parallel to his many performance achievements. Thus, Bill Scanlon of The Rocky Mountain News wrote in Davine’s obituary, “Colorado’s unofficial accordion laureate is dead. Robert Davine coaxed sweet subtleties out of the instrument in a career that bridged Carnegie Hall and the Aspen Music Festival, the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and Chinese music palaces.” He distinguished himself as a soloist with the Denver Symphony, the Denver Chamber Orchestra, the Mantovani Orchestra, the Flagstaff (Arizona) Festival Orchestra, the Lake Superior (Minnesota) Chamber Orchestra, the Norwegian Broadcasting Company and others.

“Mr. Davine stayed true to the rare concert accordion,” said Glenn Giffin. His performances reinforced the instrument’s early elevation and its introduction to the orchestral venue. Davine was one of the first to recognize that the accordion’s voice should be interwoven with those of other musical instruments and he worked with chamber ensembles and quartets in a never-ending array of concerts premiering new works by modern composers such as Normand Lockwood (who wrote 11 compositions for him), Max Di Julio, Dick Boyell and others here mentioned.

Davine had four recordings to his credit, including a current CD titled “The Concert Accordion Artistry of Robert Davine,” in which he performed with the Lamont Chamber Players (Crystal Records), featuring works by Hans Lang, Cecil Effinger, Paul Creston, Ted Zarlengo, Adamo Volpi, Normand Lockwood, John Gart, Carmelo Pino, David Diamond and Matyas Seiber. At the time of his death, he had just completed a CD with the Da Vinci String Quartet, in residence at CU.

Davine enjoyed international acclaim for his musical accomplishments, in both the classical and popular arenas of music. Faithe Deffner, accordion exponent and American Accordionists’ Association past president, whose friendship with Bob Davine spanned more than 40 years, referred to him as “A warm, unassuming person whose great modesty stood in sharp contrast to his virtuosity and musical achievements. Bob was a skilled and dedicated musician whose accordion performances always showed the instrument at its best. His musicality influenced a number of contemporary composers to expand the accordion’s literature for ensembles and that is an important legacy for the whole accordion community.”

He was born Aubrey Robert Davine April 5, 1924. As a youngster, Davine first encountered the accordion in the 30s in Denver where he heard it played as accompaniment for a Spanish dance troupe. From this early exposure grew his life-long fascination with the instrument which proved to be his personal vehicle to fame and accomplishment. He followed his passion and earned both Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University, receiving most of his professional training in Chicago. His private teachers were Joseph Biviano, Andrew Rizzo, John Kirtland, Joseph Mann and Anthony Pennetti.

He was a genuine, yet unassuming virtuoso, as well as a tireless researcher and a life-long advocate for the accordion. An avid researcher of the tango, Davine was at work on an annotated bibliography of accordion composers and their work when he passed away.

“There are performers, professors and deans, all of whom owe a debt of gratitude to Robert Davine,” said Robert Yekovich, dean of the school of music at the North Carolina School of the Arts, and one of Devine's students who chose music as his career. Over the course of many decades as an educator and a musician, Davine’s imprint on the accordion world is significantly far reaching and certain to sustain itself long into the future.

He is survived by his wife Jacqueline whom he married in 1954, and his children Greg and Lynn, their spouses and four grandchildren.

This site is sponsored by the Titano Accordion Company in honour of all that Robert Davine has done to further the development of the accordion over many years. Robert Davine played Titano instruments exclusively for almost 50 years.

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