Donald Erb, American composer, was born in Youngstown, Ohio, in 1927. Donald Erb earned his Bachelor of Science in trumpet degree in 1950 at Kent State University where he studied with his teacher Marcel Dick. He then earned his Master of Music degree in 1953 at the Cleveland Institute of Music and studied briefly with Nadia Boulanger in Paris. He also received his Doctorate in Music in 1964 at Indiana University, where he studied with Bernard Heiden. Erb also served the US Navy during World War II before he received his degrees. He was appointed to the composition and theory faculty (1953-61), was composer-in-residence (1966-81), Distinguished Professor of Composition (1987-96) and became professor emeritus in 1996 at the Cleveland Institute; he was also composer-in-residence with the Dallas SO (1968-9) and professor of composition at Indiana University (1975-6, 1984-7) and Southern Methodist University, Dallas (1981-4). (GroveMusic.com) .
In the 1960s, he developed his mature style based on exploring the sound capabilities of traditional instruments and electronically synthesized sound. Such works as Fallout (1964), Kyrie (1965), Fission (1968) and The Purple-Roofed Ethical Suicide Parlor (1972) reflect his response to the Cold War and the Vietnam conflict, and contain violent sonorous explosions. Reconnaissance (1967) was one of the first compositions of its day to utilize the interaction of real-time performance with electronically generated sounds. Also, it was premiered on Music in Our Time in New York with Robert Moog operating the synthesizer. .
The Dallas Symphony presented the premiere of Erb's The Seventh Trumpet.
(1969) and recorded his Symphony of Overtures (1964), his doctoral dissertation. These and Christmas music (1967) were large, richly textured works that constituted a watershed for the composer, pointing to new directions his music would follow. In 1976 Erb worked with Dempster, on the Trombone Concerto, which received its premiere with Dempster and the Saint Louis Symphony.