Milton Babbitt, renowned American composer and mathematician:
“ Robert Helps is not only the pianist’s pianist and the composer’s composer, but he is the composer’s pianist and the pianist’s composer (…). He long has been a legend in his own time and he deserves it. ”
Bethany Beardslee, American soprano, particularly renowned for her collaborations with major 20th-century composers:
“ If I were to single out one person who knows my musical soul, it is my Bob. He played my songs on the stage with all the care and sensitivity of an equal chamber music partner. And as I sang over his wonderful accompaniments, my voice soared with joy. ”
Judith Bettina, soprano:
“ Robert Helps’ artistry is magical, powerful and always an inspiration. ”
David Del Tredici, renowned American composer (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1980) and pianist:
“ Robert Helps, though not really old enough, is legendary. The extraordinary musical impulse that infuses both his piano playing and his musical compositions inspired me personally from an early age. His effortless-seeming mastery of all aspects of music, laced with uproarious humor and unquenchable zest for life makes him the man that is so loved and admired by all. ”
Margaret Fabrizio, artist, writer, and harpsichordist working in San Francisco:
“ Mercurially poised between spires of alabaster and suspect pools of shade he sits in the center, focused over wood and ivory eliciting music from matter. An eagle who gives flight. ”
Watch: Quilt Unveiling Curves and Triangles dedicated to Robert Helps
Jorja Fleezanis, violinist, concertmaster of the Minnesota Orchestra:
“ Some of us just don’t know any other way than cutting a sharp path toward the passions in our life. Consequently, we plan the events of our lives worrying not about the current fads of the day, but unhesitatingly seeking the next bend in the path, glad for the like thinkers we meet.
I’m awfully glad to have met you, Bob, on the trail to Sessions, Ives, Bartok, Enescu, Helps, Pärt, Kernis, Debussy, Bach - and more, since we have everything to do with it! “
Otto Luening, student of Busoni in the 1920’s, becoming a pioneer of electronic music in the 1950’s, and an influential and respected American composer throughout his long life:
“ The awarding of an honorary degree to Robert Helps is long overdue. This is because Helps never did anything in his long and distinguished career merely for display, but always kept in mind its cultural value in the musical and artistic life of our country. This attitude needs to be recognized now more than ever before since I’ve been active here (which has been since 1920). I always considered Helps a hands-on musician. His basic training was thorough and led him to advanced work at Columbia, Princeton, and Juillard. As a composer, he used his sound basis as a launching pad for studying emerging new systems and producing a formidable body of compositions. As a brilliant pianist, he performed these pieces throughout the United States. In addition, he had a diversified teaching career for almost three decades. Congratulations to Helps for this honor. ”
Garrick Ohlsson, renowned American pianist with and international career since he won the 1970 Chopin International Piano Competition:
“ Composer, pianist, teacher, friend - Bob Helps has excelled in all these roles so well and for so long that by now, we can no longer imagine the world of music without his generous nature and adventurous spirit. ”
Mel Powell, influential jazz musician and renowned American composer:
“ These are not days when the idea of a musician’s musician is held high (the word artist has more or less been abandoned to anyone who has joined any union, and can play two chords on the guitar). All the more reason that we cherish the presence among us of the boundlessly gifted Robert Helps. ”
James Purdy, renowned American author of novels, short stories, poems, and plays:
“ Robert Helps’ genius as a composer and pianist is only equalled by his inexhaustible enthusiasm for life. ”
Gunther Schuller, composer (recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in 1994), horn-player, music publisher, and conductor:
“ Congratulations to you, Bob, and profound gratitude for your splendid, devoted work as a consummate artist-musician through all the years we have known each other. ”
Harvey Sollberger, American flautist, composer, and conductor:
“ Robert Helps is a key member of a select community of musicians spread thinly across the face of the earth. What knowing him and following his work has shown me is that ‘creator’ and ‘collaborator’ can flourish and complement each other in a single musician; that they can do so in ways, moreover, which are beneficial to each. I am pleased to join in honoring him for his dedication and many contributions to our field. ”
Michael Steinberg, musicologist, critic, and teacher; music critic of The Boston Globe for twelve years:
“ You, Bob, newly minted Herr Doktor Helps, were a teenager - and so was I - when I heard you play Roger Sessions’ brand-new Sonata No. 2 at Princeton and when, not long after, we met for a moment in New York at the long-gone and much lamented Blue Ribbon.
Your concert not only began a life-long love affair with Sessions’ music, but was also predictive of what is by now a half-century’s worth of encounters with you as a composer and pianist whose originality, intelligence, fantasy, probity, humor and dazzling skill illuminate whatever you touch.
You make life richer for all, and I am more wowed than ever. ”
Virgil Thomson, eminent American composer and critic:
“ Its execution by Robert Helps was a dream of loving care. ”
New York Herald Tribune, February 24, 1948 (review of Helps’ performance of Sessions’ Piano Sonata No. 2 on an ISCM concert at the Museum of Modern Art, NYC)
Joan Tower, renowned American composer:
“ Bob is one of those extraordinary talents that I met early in my musical life, that I grew to love and listen to with amazement.
He is a rare beam of light that one encounters only now and then in one’s lifetime. ”
Yehudi Wyner, composer, pianist, conductor, and educator.
“ Outstanding pianist, distinguished composer, exemplary collaborator with eminent singers and instrumentalists, Robert Helps has defined and illuminated the essence of being an artist in our time.
He has aspired to the highest standards of the art, resisting commercial interests, ideological pressure groups and other forces which might compromise his individuality. His integrity, refinement, gallantry, gentility, and humor have inspired us all. ”