Robert Owens is an artist of diverse gifts and accomplishments. Born in 1925, in Denison, Texas, he grew up in Berkley, California. Emulating his mother, Alpharetta Helm-Owens, a brilliant pianst, he began playing piano at the age of four, composing at eight, and performing publicly at ten. At fifteen years of age, he wrote and performed his First Piano Concerto with Berkeley’s Young Peoples’ Symphony, under Jessica Marcelli. After serving in the military, he continued musical studies in Paris at L’Ècole Normale de Musique under Jules Gentil and the renowned pianist Alfred Cortot, from 1946 - 1950. In 1952, his formal debut as a concert pianist in Copenhagen was met with rave reviews. While continuing to concretize and compose, Owens took Master Classes in Vienna under Professor Grete Hinterhofer from 1953 – 1957.

After a brief teaching stint in the United States, Mr. Owens returned to Europe in 1959 to live and work in Germany. There he combined his work as composer, pianist, and stage actor. In 1970, his first opera, Kultur! Kultur! was performed in the Ulm Opera House (in German), to great acclaim. As an actor, he is much in demand for roles such as the title role in Shakespeare’s Othello, the Professor in Ionescu’s The Lesson, and other major roles in Gardner’s I’m Not Rappaport, Athol Fugard’s Master Harold & the Boys, and Uhry’s Driving Miss Daisy. These he has performed on all the most important stages of Germany.

The songs of Robert Owens are sung with regularity throughout the United States and Europe by such renowned singers as Felicia Weathers and Donnie Ray Albert. The composer has no fewer than 46 of songs on poetry by Langston Hughes, after having met the poet in 1955 and continued correspondence with him for several years. In addition, he has set poems by Emily Dickinson, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Waring Cuney, Joseph von Eichendorf, Hermann Hesse, Countee Cullen, Claude McKay, Edna St. Vincent Millay, William Wordsworth, and Emily Jane Bronte.

Owens continues to compose and collaborate with many fine singers. He has taught at Albany College in Georgia, The University of Michigan, and Southern Methodist University. His works are frequently broadcast on Bavaria Radio and many have been recorded for Naxos, Cinnabar, and Albany record labels.
This biography was most recently edited by...
tennorrman - 7 Sep 2009