The International Trombone Association has announced that Robert Marsteller has received the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognizes people, living or deceased, for their excellence in trombone profession over a long period of time. Marsteller, now deceased, was the principal trombonist for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra for 25 years. Upon his retirement, he became a full professor and head of the department of music at the University of Southern California.
Several years ago, the International Trombone Association established a Marsteller Scholarship that is awarded yearly to an outstanding trombonist. There is also a Marsteller Scholarship Award presented at the honors convocation at USC. Additionally, an annual brass award in his name is presented to a graduating senior at La Cañada High School.
After graduating from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY, Marsteller played trombone in the Washington, DC Symphony Orchestra, then served two years in the Navy Band in San Diego and Adak Island, Alaska during the war. When the war ended, he auditioned for Alfred Wallenstein for the first trombone position with the Los Angeles Symphony Orchestra. Wallenstein commissioned Paul Creston to compose the “Fantasy for Trombone” for Marsteller. He soloed frequently with this composition, as well as other solos with bands and orchestras.
He loved to help out at music camps and most every year taught at Idyllwild Music Camp. He travelled around the world for nine weeks with the Los Angeles Philharmonic with Zubin Mehta as conductor. As a Hollywood studio musician, Marsteller played trombone for many motion picture shows, such as “Ben Hur,” “The Ten Commandments,” “Spartacus” and many others.
In addition to being an accomplished musician and teacher, he wrote and published two method books for
Marsteller died at the age of 56. There were 48 brass musicians who attended his funeral at the La Cañada Presbyterian Church.
He is survived by his wife, Lorraine; son Loren, a professional musician who teaches and performs regularly; daughter Marlys, flutist, teacher, and founder and director of the Foothill Summer Musical Theatre; and son Duane, who continues to play with the Caltech Concert Band.
After Marsteller’s death, Dr. Richard Bing composed a requiem in his memory, which was later performed in Pasadena.
For the new prayer chapel at the La Cañada Presbyterian Church, Lorraine Marsteller donated and made a request that a new piano be purchased in memory of her husband Robert. With the help of the Clipper Club of the Church, a memorial piano will be installed.