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Robert Marek was born in Wisconsin on January 20, 1915. He began his music career at age nine when he began studying the violin. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and he received his bachelor's degree in music education from Kansas State College in Emporia. His graduate degrees in music theory were from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in New York. He studied with Bernard Rogers and Wayne Barlow at the Eastman School. He taught in Wisconsin, Kansas and Colorado prior to becoming a faculty member at the University of South Dakota in 1957. At USD he taught music theory, composition and counterpoint and was named Emeritus Professor in 1982. Marek died in 1995.
In a television biography, broadcast on South Dakota Public Television as a part of the South Dakota Composers series, Dr. Marek described his music as having a "…total chromatic tonal basis, with superimposed layers and lines of melody and a mixture of metric and non-metric rhythmic structures" He commented that, "Pitch textures are usually tonal, but may also be serially controlled or developed by set relationships." He said that "…There is always and expressive element underlying the music. Dramatic gestures are frequently involved in giving the music its direction and form". Marek believed that the teaching of music theory and the analysis of music for his students and classes had been an important element in shaping his style. Performing in orchestras and other ensembles, and conducting and arranging for such groups, provided background and skills in handling instruments and voices. His interest in creativity and in using and manipulating sounds were the basic factors contributing to his list of works and in his process of music composition.
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