Prof. Robert Winter

Distinguished Professor  


Office: 218 Ostin Music Building
Telephone:  (310) 206-8144


Scholar/pianist/media author ROBERT WINTER began his life as a would-be athlete and science student at Coral Gables High School (Florida) and a physics major at Brown University. Following an epiphany at the end of his sophomore year, he earned his B.A. in Music, then an M.F.A. in Piano from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and a Ph. D. in the History & Theory of Music from the University of Chicago. Before joining the UCLA music faculty he spent three years in Europe on Fulbright-Hayes and Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation fellowships performing and researching his doctoral work on the sketches for Beethoven's String Quartet in C-sharp Minor, Op. 131.  

In the first fifteen years of his scholarly career, Winter authored, co-authored, or edited four major books on Beethoven and published a substantial number of influential articles on compositional process, performance practice, and Franz Schubert (he contributed the Schubert article to the 2000 edition of the Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians). The Beethoven Sketchbooks (with Douglas Johnson and Alan Tyson, published by the University of California Press) received the Otto Kinkeldey Award from the American Musicological Society for the best scholarly music book of 1985. Winter's other awards and honors in that same period included a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1983 and, in 1990, the Frances Densmore Prize (for the best article on musical instruments between 1986-89) from the American Musical Instrument Association. He also served a term as an elected member of the American Musicological Society's Board of Directors.

From 1979 on, Winter became widely known to the general musical public for his nationally broadcast 10-week live-music series (host and frequent performer) on Mozart and Beethoven (with the Sequoia Quartet) for American Public Radio, as well as programs in the series Pacific Coast Highway. His audiences for countless live performances and lectures covering a vast range of musical and cultural topics have included the Los Angeles Philharmonic (where he pioneered the pre-concert format over a 15-year period), Los Angeles Opera, the national meetings of the American Symphony Orchestra League, Avery Fisher Hall (New York Philharmonic), the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, national meetings of Chamber Music America (New York), the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Performing Arts Library at Lincoln Center, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the 92nd Street Y Schubertiads, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the National Symphony in Washington, D.C. (PBS Special on Moods and Music), the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, the Opera League of Los Angeles, numerous summer music festivals (including the Aspen Music Festival and Music@Menlo, as well as nine seasons directing a sold-out summer concert series at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California), and a host of colleges, universities, and schools of music.

Winter has also presented his work to international audiences in Japan (on a multimedia tour sponsored by Pioneer); three Intermedia conferences in Mexico City; early Mozart in Calgary, Canada; France (Milia Festival, Cannes); Austria (international Beethoven symposium); Germany (Beethoven sketches in Berlin and Bonn); Prague, Czech Republic (New World interactive DVD), and, since 2010, at numerous music conservatories and universities in China. He has served as official and unofficial coach of numerous string quartets, chamber ensembles, and opera productions. Writing for the Wall Street Journal in 1993, Mark Swed described Winter as "probably the best public explicator of music since Leonard Bernstein."

In 1989 Winter's career took a dramatic turn when he was invited by Bob Stein of the Voyager Company to produce its first original interactive software title—today widely regarded as the first commercial interactive publication. As an instinctively multimedia performer and author, Winter's programs on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring (called "masterly" by the New York Times); Mozart's "Dissonant" Quartet, and Dvorak's New World Symphony have been hailed in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek (where he was profiled as one of "50 to Watch" in cyberspace), U.S. News and World Report, Wired Magazine, People Magazine, and elsewhere as milestones in multimedia publishing.

In addition to his interactive creating and authoring, Winter is an articulate international spokesperson for the role of content and the arts in a digital world. He worked closely with both Apple and Microsoft in developing their early multimedia platforms and strategies. He has been a featured or keynote speaker/performer at many professional conferences, including the Microsoft CD-ROM Conference, Digital World, Stuart Alsop's Agenda '90, the UCLA Multimedia Roundtable, the Japanese National Audio-Visual Conference in Tokyo, MacWorld Expos in the United States and Mexico, Milia (Cannes, France), Intermedia (San Francisco), the Governor's Conference on the Arts & Technology (Santa Clara), the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver, B.C., the Ziff Institute, and keynote addresses for the National Association of Schools of Music.

Winter also recorded a live video music series for RCA Victor that was launched with three titles in February 1995. From 1996-2002 he led for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (the major American presenter organization, based in Washington, D.C.) an annual five-day seminar for arts presenters in Aspen, La Jolla, and New York entitled "Classical Connections" that explored broad issues of understanding and programming classical music with a focus on audience development and community education.

Winter served as Chair of the Music Department in 1992-94 (overseeing the statewide approval of the uniquely structured M.M./D.M.A. program, whose development he spearheaded) and Associate Dean for Technology and Curricular Innovation on the School of the Arts & Architecture from 1995-2000. In 1996 Winter was named to occupy the Presidential Chair in Music and Interactive Arts—the first such chair to be awarded in the arts at UCLA. From 1996-2000 he was the Founder/Director of UCLA's Center for the Digital Arts. Winter is that rare recipient of both of UCLA's two highest awards—the Distinguished Teaching Award in 2006 and the Faculty Research Lectureship in the spring of 2010.

As President of Calliope, a multimedia publishing company devoted to originally authored programs in the arts, humanities, and entertainment, Mr. Winter authored or produced numerous titles—from "Robert Winter's Crazy for Ragtime" (released in May 1996; "Robert Winter has done it again." Newsweek) to "Interactive Perlman" (a program exploring Tchaikovsky's Violin Concerto with renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman) that received wide critical acclaim. In 2003 he was recruited by Carnegie Hall to spearhead their new digital outreach programs. The first project joined forces with the world renowned Emerson String Quartet in an interactive Performer's Guide to the Bartók Quartets, which Carnegie Hall made available online in 2006. Under the leadership of Joseph Horowitz, Winter was the recipient of an NEH grant to vastly expand his earlier program on Dvorák and the New World into an interactive DVD (the first of its kind) that appeared in March of 2008.

During the fall of 2010 Winter embarked on a four-month visit to China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, giving almost fifty lectures, performances, or master classes in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and more than a half dozen universities in Taiwan. In March of 2013 he returned to Shanghai and presented for the first time at both Hangzhou and Fuzhou conservatories. He spent three months back in China during the fall of 2013. Along with keynote addresses at professional conferences and tours to several major cities, he offered six lectures over a one-month period at the Shanghai Conservatory on the life and music of Franz Schubert.

Winter's current and future projects include new interactive programs (Bach Stories–Five Fugal Tales; and How They Played Chopin; How We Play Chopin). He is also involved in upgrading and preparing for release more than thirty media projects and performances—including his now iconic program on the Ninth Symphony, whose history is documented in the newest revision of Processing: A Programming Handbook for Visual Designers and Artists (to appear in 2014 from MIT Press)—for release on laptops, iPads, iPhones, and other digital platforms.

Between June 2014 and March 2015 he will release for international sale Music in the Air—the product of a decade of development and the first completely online history of Western music, incorporating even more of the features and musical experiences for which Winter has become so well known.