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Robert Blocker

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Photo of Dean Robert Blocker.
William Edward Gilbert Professor of Piano Yale School of Music
At YSM Since: 1995
Award(s): Honorary Professor of Piano at the Central Conservatory of Music, Beijing (2006)

Robert Blocker

Described by the Los Angeles Times as an artist of “great skill and accomplishment,” Robert Blocker, the William Edward Gilbert Professor of Piano at Yale, has forged an inspired career as an academic leader, an accomplished pianist, and an impassioned educator. From 1995 to 2023, he served as the Henry and Lucy Moses Dean of Music and Professor of Piano at the Yale School of Music, and as an affiliate Professor of Leadership Strategies at Yale University’s School of Management. An internationally acclaimed concert pianist, Blocker performs throughout the world, appearing in recital and in chamber music and orchestral settings. He appears regularly on national radio and television programs as an artist and commentator and is also active as a consultant to major educational institutions and government agencies worldwide. Blocker is also a member of Connecticut Public Broadcasting’s board of trustees and has been a member of the New Haven Symphony Orchestra’s board of directors since 1995.

Blocker’s administrative work is imbued with the same passion he brings to the concert stage. His academic leadership has consistently elevated public and private institutions to ever-higher plateaus of excellence. During his tenure as Dean, the School of Music’s endowment grew from $29 million to $574 million, including a transformative $100 million gift that made the School tuition-free. As Dean, Blocker also oversaw unprecedented improvements to the entire School of Music campus and forged a coalition between the Yale School of Music, the Yale College Class of 1957, and the New Haven Public Schools to launch the Music in Schools Initiative. He also oversaw the expansion of the School of Music’s jazz offerings. Prior to his appointment at Yale, Blocker was the founding Dean of the UCLA School of the Arts and Architecture, where he held a joint appointment at the Anderson School of Management. He also served as Dean at the University of North Texas College of Music and at Baylor University’s School of Music. In 2005-2006, Blocker served as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas before returning to Yale in 2006.

Blocker began his study of the instrument at age five, presenting his first public recital two years later. Following baccalaureate studies at Furman University, Blocker earned master’s and doctoral degrees in piano performance at the University of North Texas under the tutelage of the eminent American pianist Richard Cass. He also studied with Jorge Bolet. Blocker’s contributions to musical scholarship include The Robert Shaw Reader (Yale University Press, 2004), which he edited, and his forthcoming book, Music: The Currency of Hope.

Beijing Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony, Moscow Chamber Orchestra, Shanghai Symphony, Monterey Philharmonic, Prague Chamber Orchestra, Korean Symphony Orchestra, Daejeon Symphony Orchestra (South Korea)

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3 (2002, Credia Classics), Mozart’s Piano Concertos Nos. 12, 13, and 14 (scored for quartet and piano by the composer; 2009, Naxos), with the Biava Quartet.