Appointed Principal Librarian in September 2004, Robert Stiles began his career with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as a Librarian in July 1999. A musician and a scholar, he maintains active connections to both areas of his professional life.
Stiles earned a Doctor of Musical Arts in Double Bass in 2003 from the University of Texas at Austin. In his dissertation, “Serge Koussevitzky: Recently Discovered Compositions for Double Bass and for Large Ensembles within the Context of His Life and Career,” Stiles presented his discovery and evidence of 29 new compositions or arrangements by Koussevitzky, the great Russian 20th century double bass virtuoso, founder of the Tanglewood Music Center and conductor of the Boston Symphony from 1924–1949. The documentation of these works is significant as it provides proof that Koussevitzky was an active composer and confirms the five works attributed to him, including his own concerto, were his own and not the work of others. Stiles was featured on a BBC broadcast in 2003 discussing his findings. Other publications include his master’s thesis “Lass uns das Lied des Schiller: Musical and Philosophical Unities in Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony,” which examines the concept that the famous “Ode to Joy” melody is the basis for every thematic area in this work and served as a unifying force not only in the ninth symphony but also in every aspect of Beethoven’s later years.
Musically, Stiles is a composer and arranger and maintains an active performing career as a double bassist. His arrangements have been performed by the DSO as well as the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. In 2000 he was commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania to create and arrange music for a Broadway-style review that ran in Philadelphia and New York. As a double bassist, Stiles has made appearances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Grand Opera, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. He also takes pleasure in sharing his love of music with his double bass students.
Stiles's professional career began at the age of 15 when he began performing in his hometown of San Angelo, Texas with the San Angelo Symphony. During his early career as a performer, he played with many orchestras throughout Texas as well as the Louisiana Philharmonic and the Albuquerque Symphony. In addition, he performed with the Spoleto Festival in Spoleto, Italy and was a solo performer at the American String Teachers Association convention in Stavanger, Norway in 1997.
As an orchestra librarian, Stiles’s career began in 1997 while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Within a year, he was offered a position with the Florida West Coast Symphony, where he served as Principal Librarian of both the Florida West Coast Symphony and the Sarasota Music Festival prior to his appointment with the DSO. In the summer of 2000, he was appointed Principal Librarian of the Grand Teton Music Festival in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where he enjoyed spending his free time running up and down mountains, kayaking, and basking in the splendor of nature.
With the DSO, Stiles designed the new orchestra library in the Max M. & Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center after extensive research and travels to numerous orchestra libraries. In addition, he has led a reorganization of the orchestra’s vast collection of music and in the process re-discovered over 500 works donated to the orchestra from the Works Progress Administration. Using technology, a sense of history, and his academic and musical background, he is reconstructing the orchestra’s musical history and creating a model orchestra library.
Stiles’s hobbies include hiking, biking, and skiing. He lives in Huntington Woods with his wife Gwen, a speech pathologist.