Robert Baker

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Robert “Bob” Baker, 69, of Belleville, IL, born March 19, 1954, in Bronxville, NY, died Saturday, November 25, 2023, at his residence.

Bob was a very talented symphonic conductor and music director. He graduated Harvard University, Cambridge, MA. Bob then attended Yale University, New Haven, CT, and went on to receive two master’s degrees and a Doctorate in Musical Arts. He also received an Artist Diploma of Mozarteum in Austria, and an honorary doctorate from York College, York, PA.

Music was his life. Bob toured the world living out his dream as a conductor. He worked for many orchestras throughout the years. His primary positions included the York Symphony Orchestra, which he was a music director and conductor for over thirty years, Conductor Emeritus with the Asheville Symphony Orchestra, Asheville, NC, and Principal Guest Conductor with Asheville Lyric Opera, Asheville, NC. Since 1982 he served as conductor and music director with the St. Louis Philharmonic Orchestra, St. Louis, MO, and most recently as a conductor and music director with the Belleville Philharmonic Society, Belleville, IL. Bob enjoyed spending time with his dear wife, Barbra, and always offered a helping hand to help take care of her horses. He was also a very devoted uncle and adored his nieces and nephews.

Bob was preceded in death by his parents, Lee and Jeanne, nee Sacher, Baker.

Surviving are his loving wife of 34 years, Barbra Duvall Baker, nee Trankle; a sister-in-law, Katherine Trankle; a brother-in-law, Joseph (Kathy Mueller) Trankle; his nieces, Evelyn Elizabeth Thomas, Kari Trankle, and Krystal Trankle (Eric) Mauer; his nephew, Darrell Trankle; and a great-nephew, Christopher Joseph Thomas.

Memorials may be made to the Belleville Philharmonic Society. Condolences may be expressed to the family online at

Visitation: Friends may visit from 9 to 11 a.m. Friday, December 8, 2023, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.

Funeral:  Memorial Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday, December 8, 2023, at George Renner & Sons Funeral Home, Belleville, IL.


11 Comments on Robert Baker

R. Rosenbaum said : Guest Report Jan 29, 2024 at 2:19 PM

See ya!

  • NYC
  • NY
Kevin McKee said : Guest Report Dec 09, 2023 at 10:56 AM

Bob's dedication to music was obvious for all to see. His interest in sharing his knowledge, experiences, and advice with others was much appreciated. In my brief association with him, I feel that I have grown as a musician. He will be missed.

  • Troy
  • Illinois
Kevin Korsyn said : Guest Report Dec 09, 2023 at 10:45 AM

I knew Bob when we were students at Yale. He was a brilliant musician and a person of great integrity, kindness, and humor. His passion for music was unmatched, and I will never forget the performances that he conducted of an opera by Haydn. I also knew Bob's late parents, who cherished him and devoted their lives to nurturing his remarkable talent.

  • Ann Arbor
  • MI
Celia Jelley said : Guest Report Dec 08, 2023 at 6:46 AM

Condolences to Bob's wife and the two families. Bob was a true gentleman with a willingness beyond compare to share his musical knowledge and experience with others. He will be missed and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to have known him. A true loss.

  • Charlotte
  • NC
Melanie A Halley said : Guest Report Dec 06, 2023 at 9:32 AM

I joined the Philharmonic about two years after Dr. Baker. I always enjoyed playing music under his conduction. Melanie Halley, Cello

  • University City
  • MO
Nelle Bailey said : Guest Report Dec 06, 2023 at 7:43 AM

My sympathies to Barb and family. I was so saddened to hear about Dr. Baker's passing. He is much beloved in York, PA. Bob always knew what was needed for the musicians and brought out the very best in us. He was super knowledgeable about the repertoire and it was a delight to work with him. May he now enjoy the heavenly concert!! Nelle Bailey York, PA

  • Parkton
  • MD
Martha Campbell Roberts said : Guest Report Dec 05, 2023 at 7:30 PM

We have lost a great man, a true gentleman, full of wisdom, talent, amazing stories of his experiences, who was willing to share his gifts with musicians around the world. He could do all this with never a hint of boasting, just including us in his experiences. Oh how I wish we had more people like him! Many prayers for Barb as she adapts to this devastating loss. I am so glad that these 2 beautiful souls found each other.

  • Alton
  • Il
Jeff Peterson said : Guest Report Dec 05, 2023 at 6:36 PM

I am sorry for your loss, Barbra. Bob was one of the most musically knowledgeable people I have met and greatly contributed to the Belleville Philharmonic in his short time with the orchestra.

  • Freeburg
  • IL
Laura Veach said : Guest Report Dec 04, 2023 at 11:21 AM

Deepest condolences and God's blessings to you, Barbra and family. Bob was a sweet man, very talented, and always had wonderful, entertaining anecdotes to share. He will be fondly remembered and sadly missed.

  • IL
John M. Samet said : Guest Report Dec 03, 2023 at 8:44 PM

I was greatly saddened by his passing. He was a great conductor, had an excellent ear for the "correct notes", and a good sense of how to balance the sections of the orchestra. His anecdotes about the composers were memorable. Most importantly , he had a good sense of humor , and was never over bearing. I will miss him. John M. Samet MD

  • Clayton
  • Mo
Kathryn Bowman said : Guest Report Dec 02, 2023 at 11:18 AM

It is heart breaking to lose our wonderful conductor, music director and dear friend. May God bless his family at this sad time.

  • O'Fallon
  • Illinois

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