Robert Avalon

Robert Avalon, artistic portrait at the piano. painting by Austin artist Phillip Wade

Robert Avalon, artistic portrait at the piano, painting by Austin artist Phillip Wade, ca. 1980. 

Admirers of contemporary music now have the opportunity to rediscover the legacy of Texas-born composer Robert Avalon, who tragically passed away at the height of his career.

Avalon (1955-2004), who lived the last 15 years of his life in Houston, established himself here as both a prolific composer, brilliant teacher, concertizing pianist, and ardent advocate of contemporary music. His compositions represent an important chapter in the development of a thriving modern music scene in Texas, especially in Houston, during the 1980s and 1990s.

Born Robert White, Avalon was the younger brother of Bill White, the former mayor of Houston. He was not only an accomplished performer and composer but also a mentor to many students, some of whom now have distinguished musical careers. For several years, he also directed the locally based Foundation for Modern Music, which continues to promote the works of living composers.

Robert Avalon composed in many different genres and styles of music, from orchestral pieces and chamber works to solo voice and piano compositions, all housed in the newly created archive.

Generously donated by Gloria White and her family, the collection features unpublished compositions including scores and musical parts. In addition to the musical works, there also is an extensive collection of materials related to the composer’s unfinished opera Carlota, inspired by the tragic life of the widow of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. The collection also contains concert reviews, program notes, and audio and video recordings of performances, which have now been digitized and catalogued for long-term preservation.

This web exhibit highlights some of the materials housed in the collection. We hope this exhibit will inspire musicians, musicologists, and composers to explore the creative accomplishments of the late Robert Avalon.

Robert Avalon