Past Music Director & Conductor
On March 25, 2008, Richard Gerstenberger passed away. His friendship, leadership,
and kind and generous spirit will be greatly missed by all who knew him.
Memorial contributions have been received by the orchestra in Richard's
memory, and the DMCO Board of Directors has made arrangements to have Linda
Robbins Coleman write new music to honor Richard. The composition will make
its world premiere at the DMCO Winter Concert on February 28, 2010.
If you would like to make a financial contribution to help support this memorial
commission, and to honor Richard, please mail your check to:
Des Moines Community Orchestra
P.O. Box 1796
Des Moines, Iowa 50306
(please make check to "DMCO - Gerstenberger memorial")
Gerstenberger became the Music Director and Conductor of the Des Moines
Community Orchestra in 1989.
Maestro Gerstenberger is a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music,
and Boston University. He has played horn professionally with the Boston Pops
under Arthur Fiedler, as well as the Boston Symphony under Charles Munch. and
the New England Opera Theater under Boris Goldovsky. He was also Director of
Bands at Rutgers University.
After moving to Des Moines, Richard taught music
at Drake University (Des Moines, Iowa), at Simpson College (Indianola, Iowa),
and in the Des Moines Public Schools. Mr. Gerstenberger played horn with the Des
Moines Symphony for 20 years, and co-founded the Des Moines Horn Club in 1970.
In "retirement" he became Music Director and Conductor of the Des
Moines Community Orchestra from 1989 through 2002.
2005, Richard and
his wife, Martha Gerstenberger, long-time principal cellist of DMCO,
moved to New Hampshire, where they have family roots. The photo at right was
taken a few days before their departure for New Hampshire.
The orchestra thanks
the Gerstenbergers for the enormous contributions they have made to the musical
arts in Iowa.
obituary appeared in the Des Moines Register on April 9, 2008:
RICHARD (DICK) CARL GERSTENBERGER
Richard (Dick) Carl Gerstenberger, 84, died March 25, 2008 in Windham, New
Hampshire, after a brief illness. Beloved husband of Martha (Field)
Gerstenberger for 53 years, Richard died peacefully at the home of his son and
daughter-in-law. Richard was born in Lawrence, Massachusetts, on September 21,
1923 and was educated in the Lawrence Massachusetts School System.
He spent one year at the New England Conservatory before enlisting into the
Army to serve in the European Theater during W W II in the 106th Infantry
Division. He was also stationed in the Ardennes Forest near St. Vith, Belgium
just before the commencement of the Battle of the Bulge. After an honorable
discharge, Richard went back to the Conservatory for his Bachelor's Degree and
proceeded to Boston University for his Master's Degree in music.
He went on to become a music Professor and Teacher as well as a
professional French Horn Player. His musical career included playing in an
orchestra at Wentworth-by-the-Sea in Newcastle, New Hampshire and Hampton
Beach as well as stints with the Boston Symphony and Boston Pops under the
late Arthur Fiedler of Boston, Massachusetts.
Richard's family relocated to Des Moines, Iowa, in 1967 where he taught
music in the Des Moines Public School System, and played with the Des Moines
Symphony. In his spare time, Richard was an accomplished carpenter and
woodworker, producing numerous pieces of furniture, and more recently
"Limber Jacks," or dancing figures. After his retirement, he spent
nine years as the Conductor of the Des Moines Community Orchestra. Richard's
family has enjoyed summers at the cottage on Cobbett's Pond in Windham, New
Hampshire, since 1938.
Richard "PAPA" is survived by his beloved family including his
wife, Martha, a son, Peter, and daughter-in-law, Susan, and grandsons,
Jonathan Richard and Colin Charles of Windham, New Hampshire, a son Karl, and
daughter-in-law Vicky, and granddaughter Romy Eliza of Norridgewock, Maine, a
sister, Arlene Jones, of Princeton, New Jersey, as well as nieces, nephews and
A Memorial Service will be held in Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting, 4211
Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA, May 17, at 2 o'clock, to which friends are
respectfully invited. There will be no calling hours.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Des Moines Community Orchestra,
P.O. Box 1796, Des Moines, IA 50306, or the Des Moines Valley Friends Meeting,
4211 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, IA 50312.