Bob Lutt was born in 1929 in small-town Nebraska. He attended the local public schools, graduating from high school in 1946 at the age of 15. His love of music started at home.
"I was very lucky to have a mother who was a magnificent singer. In the little town I grew up in there was a very good school band and she put a lot of effort into getting me involved with it. My first instrument was the trombone -- I started when I was twelve."
He entered Wayne State College in the fall of 1946, the first person in his extended family to attend college. His first love while in high school was football, but he also performed as a drum major with the marching band at halftime of his games. Although he intended to be a sports major at college a serious injury forced him to change his plans and he became a music major instead. He graduated with a degree in music and a teaching certificate in 1950.
Wayne State was also where he met a beautiful young woman named Beth Hart who received her teaching credential in 1949. Bob and Beth were married right after his graduation in 1950.
In 1950, Bob began his first teaching job at Oakland High School in Oakland, Nebraska, a town only 15 miles south east of where he had grown up. He immediately restarted the band and choral programs; these programs went on to win several superior awards at Nebraska music festivals and in 1954, Bob was selected as the Nebraska Band Director of the Year.
Bob went on to receive his Master's Degree from the University of Colorado and in 1954 he was offered the job of Director of Bands at Berkeley High School in Berkeley, California, quite a change from small-town Nebraska. He and Beth moved to the big city which was to be their home for the next 57 years.
At Berkeley High, Bob went to work expanding and improving the band program. During his 20 year tenure at Berkeley High School his bands participated in the Winter Olympic Games at Squaw Valley, the World Expo in Seattle, the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, were invited to participate at Disneyland 10 times and had 15 years of straight superior ratings at California music educators festivals. His marching band appeared annually at University of California at Berkeley football games and in 1960 he was named Berkeley Young Man of the Year.
It was during this time, in 1957, that Bob created the second true love of his life, Cazadero Music Camp. It was somewhat serendipitous, he and Beth were both working incredibly hard but at some point they needed a break; here's how Bob describes it:
I asked the principal where my wife and I could go for the weekend affordably and he mentioned a small camp in the redwoods. We went and we fell in love with the trees and creek. When I was in high school, I loved music camp, and Berkeley didn't have one. Since the city owned the land, I asked if I could start a camp.
After some hard work getting the rundown campsite habitable, Cazadero Music Camp began.
In the summer of 1957 I took my band to Cazadero for the first time. It was an immediate success! I had friends in the San Francisco Orchestra, and although I couldn't pay them, I could provide them and their families with a good time. They were the teachers, and more and more came. Then the Symphony changed the contract from nine months a year to twelve. So we got teachers from everywhere -- they'd come for a week. We've had some very fine ones. We had 65 students the first year and after about eight years there were 800 kids coming each summer. We've had about 100,000 campers now total.
In 1975, after over 20 years with Berkeley High, Bob took a job with San Francisco State University as director of the concert band and music education departments. Here, he designed a program with the San Francisco Foundation to allow university music students to teach at Cazadero Music Camp each summer for a salary and college credits; Mr. Lutt retired in 1985 after 35 years of teaching.
Though he was done teaching professionally, he continued his life's work of bringing great opportunities into the lives of young people through music. His next project was with his son William; they started a music production company called World Projects. The Lutts found festivals and projects the world over that were in need of musical content, bands of young people. Their first project was the 1988 World Expo in Brisbane, Australia with more than 4,800 students participating in the event. The Lutts then created festivals in Hawaii, the Sydney Opera House, Carnegie Hall, Japan, Singapore, London, San Francisco, New Orleans, Washington D.C. and designed worldwide performance tours for numerous high school and university music groups. In the year 2000, World Projects assembled 2,000 international students for a marching band for the opening ceremonies at the summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia
Bob retired from World Projects in 2005. He has been honored by the National Conference of Music Educators for Outstanding Achievement in 2010 as well as by the California Association for Music Education with the Hall of Fame Award honoring lifetime achievement in music education in 2009. In 2010, he was the local recipient of the Jefferson Award, in recognition of his outstanding service to his community by bringing music into the lives of thousands of young people. In 2000, the performance stage at Cazadero Music Camp was officially named The Lutt Family Amphitheater, and in 2009, with a new roof overhead, it was officially dedicated with a ribbon cutting ceremony; that same summer, Bob turned 80 and Bob and Beth celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary.
Bob has touched thousands of lives, inspiring them with music and love.
When I walk down Solano Avenue now, I constantly see people whom I taught. I see young people on the street who come up to me and talk about how good a time they've had at camp. I've had an incredible amount of help from my family. My wife's been very active and all three of my children are musicians." He sees his camp as a "sort of legacy that we can leave for future generations. It's lasted fifty years and I hope it continues for another fifty!"
It was Bob's wish that an endowment fund be created at Cazadero Music Camp in his honor. Contributions can be made online via the link below, by calling the Caz office at (510) 527-7500, or by mail to Cazadero Music Camp, P.O. Box 7908, Berkeley, CA 94707.
When I was eleven or so, being taught alto sax by Bob ($10 a lesson, as I remember) I was brought to tears when he insisted that I should also play clarinet. My reluctantly following that advice made it so I never had to have a Real Job, unless you count being a councilor for many years at Caz., which I don't. I think I stopped crying somewhere during the second year of being taught the clarinet, briefly starting again when I was forced to play bass clarinet in the orchestra at BHS.... Ultimately, Bob got me on the right track before I knew it was The Right Track... My thoughts, for what they're worth , are with All the B's in the Lutt Family.
My husband Mike Collins and I (Pat Warren at the time) met Bob in the band room at Berkeley High in the 1956. Bob acted as a matchmaker for Mike and I, and we have been married for almost 54 years. He is also our first born's namesake and Godfather. We were with Bob the first year at Cazadero Music Camp and it was a wonderful experience. We will miss Bob very much and our deepest condolences are with Beth and the rest of the family.
A profound loss indeed, for the Cazadero family. How doubly fortunate I now feel, to have been able to see and embrace Bob and Beth, together with my mother Onnie in 2009 after a good 50 years since being a camp brat with my faculty parents, and 39 years since being a camper.
I worked at Caz as a U-Boy in the summers of 1966 and 1967. I have no musical talents , but Bob Lutt gave me my first job from Berkeley High. I met my good friend, Kris Bell at Caz and the environment Bob promoted encouraged a lifetime of memories and friendships. In my mind his legacy can be seen in the faces of all the men and women in the many generations who have had the honor to share his humor, wit and dedication to music and youth.
Thanks to Bob Lutt for creating a wonderful venue, under the redwoods, where young people can discover all that music has for them. Bob truly changed lives.
My son attended camp several times and Mr. Lutt was always his favorite guy. He loved to hold his cane when he guest conducted.
Without Bob Lutt, none of us would have had the magical experience of Caz. Thank you for everything.
Thanks, Bob Lutt, for creating a musical Utopia.
Bob was very influential in my development as a teacher and particularly as a person. His love of Caz and kids was beyond belief. Throughout the years, thousands of people benefited from the experience of knowing and working with Bob. Being at Caz, in any capacity, was a great thing for all. The spirit of Bob Lutt will live on and on through his wonderful family and loved ones. I feel fortunate for being his friend for over 50 years.
When I think of how much of a role music has played in my life, the first person I think of is "Mr. Lutt". I think of how much Bob brought to my life through the examples he set: passion, humor, community, courage to take on the big projects - and so many other nuances. He gave us Cazadero, and the life opportunity to "pay it forward" for the next generations of young musicians. He taught us how to inspire young people, and has given the baton to so many of us. It's up to us now to again give "instruments up"...and a downbeat.
Mr. Lutt, you were the reason music was as big a part of my life as it was. I can never thank you enough and you will certainly be missed! Everyone who knew you loved you because you were that amazing of a person!
I was very privileged to come and learn music at your establishment from the other side of the world, a truly amazing experience I will treasure for many years to come. May your Soul rest in peace and ambitions continue to prosper and educate young musicians for future generations to come. You will be dearly missed!
Mr. Lutt, I always strive to have a Really Big Sound. Thank you for everything and creating a place that is so good and positive.
I will miss him terribly, but he lives on in every note that is played at Caz!
Even though I was only a Caz camper for a year, Bob Lutt has forever changed my life by affirming my love of music and of people. I know that many others must share this feeling toward him. He truly was an inspiration to me, so thank you Bob Lutt, I'll never forget how much you did for me.
Thinking of the many wonderful ways Cazadero impacted my music experiences growing up, and my children's more recent time at Cazadero. Having Bob at the concerts or at the bus send off with his elephantine memory of people added another special aspect to the wonderful entity that is Cazadero Music Camp. You will be missed Bob. We will listen extra carefully in the redwoods this summer for the angel band that will be playing under your direction.
- Leslie Blackie
He was a force of nature, Bob was.? So much of what I loved about working for Caz had to do with hanging out with him.??? What a presence -- what a visionary!
I am in Istanbul right now and while walking a busy street, stopped to listen to a musician who was getting much attention.? He was playing a didgeridoo and really giving a fun performance while teaching the crowd about the instrument.? I immediately thought of Bob.....since he often told me that if I would take up playing the didgeridoo he would have let me play in one of his bands.
And just now I've? told my fellow travelers all about Bob, Beth and Cazadero......how they connected us around the world and in our hearts.