Robert Armbruster

John Robert Sommers Armbruster (October 9, 1897 – June 20, 1994) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. An American composer, conductor, pianist and songwriter, he also recorded piano rolls under the pseudonyms of: Henri Bergman, Edwin Gabriel, Robert Romayne, Robert Summers.[1]

Robert Armbruster
Robert Armbruster 1937.jpg
BornOctober 9, 1897
DiedJune 20, 1994
OccupationComposer, conductor, and pianist

When he was 8 years old, Armbruster began performing professionally in Philadelphia.[2]

After studying with Constantin von Sternberg he became a concert pianist, then branched out into conducting and a composing for radio, then television and film. He debuted as a pianist with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the age of eight. In his teenage years, he started recording piano rolls for the Aeolian Company's Duo-Art reproducing pianos and turned out hundreds of classical and salon-type performances for them. He attracted particular notice as orchestra leader of The Voice of Firestone, the songs "Cuddle Up" and "High Barbaree" and his compositions "Western Ballet" and "Variations in Miniature on Chopsticks".

During the 1940s, Armbruster was the conductor of the NBC Hollywood Orchestra for many charitable specials.[citation needed] Other radio programs on which he worked included Blue Ribbon Time,[3] Blue Ribbon Town,[3]:47 The Cass Daley Show,[3]:67 Cavalcade of America,[3]:67 The Charlie McCarthy Show,[3]:72 Coronet on the Air,[3]:83 Cousin Willie,[3]:84-85, The Cuckoo Hour,[3]:88 A Day in the Life of Dennis Day,[3]:94 The Electric Hour,[3]:108 The Great Gildersleeve,[3]:136-138 The Groucho Marx Show,[3]:139 Hawthorne TBA,[3]:147 The Kraft Music Hall,[3]:191 The Nelson Eddy Show,[3]:254 The Old Gold Program,[3]:259 Red Ryder,[3]:282 Sara's Private Caper,[3]:294 and Western Caravan.[3]:350

In 1948, Armbruster was musical director, conductor and solo pianist for the Kraft Music Hall program starring Nelson Eddy. A fine pianist, he was featured each week in classical piano solos. The program had an excellent orchestra of about 35. Regular arrangers included Billy May and Nelson Riddle. In the sixties, Armbruster was head of the music department at MGM Studios.

He died in Santa Monica, California on June 20, 1994., at age 97.[2]


  1. ^ The Billings Rollography: Pianists Ginny Billings, Bob Billings - 1990 p36 "Henri Bergman, Edwin Gabriel, Robert Romayne, Robert Summers (Rolls listed under pseudonyms) Robert Armbruster was born in Philadelphia in 1896, and received his ..."
  2. ^ a b "Robert Armbruster; Conductor, Composer". The Los Angeles Times. California, Los Angeles. June 25, 1994. Archived from the original on March 11, 2020. Retrieved March 11, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Terrace, Vincent (1999). Radio Programs, 1924-1984: A Catalog of More Than 1800 Shows. McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 46. ISBN 978-0-7864-4513-4.

External linksEdit

  • DeLong, Thomas A. (1996). Radio Stars: An Illustrated Biographical Dictionary of 953 Performers, 1920 through 1960. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. p. 15, entry 36.