American conductor and teacher Robert Harold Gutter was born in New York City on 16 June 1938, the son of Jerome Sidney and Matilda Gutter. He studied at New York's High School of Music and Art and then at Yale University's School of Music. He also studied with Franco Ferrara at the Chighiana Academy in Siena.
During his long career, he directed various symphony orchestras and opera companies internationally, including in Buenos Aires, Florence, London, Madrid, Milan, New York, Paris, Stuttgart, Tienjin, Vienna and Washington. He guest conducted productions at Connecticut Grand Opera, Kazakhstan State Opera in Astana, Linz Stadtheater, New Orleans Opera, Teatro Lirico d'Europa, Teatro Massimo Bellini and at Vienna Volksoper.
From 1970 until 1986 he was music director and conductor of the Springfield Symphony (MA), the largest professional orchestra in Massachusetts outside of Boston, building the orchestra into one of the USA's most accomplished regional orchestras and commissioning new works by Ned Rorem, Michael Colgrass and Gunthur Schuller. In 1986 Robert Gutter became the orchestra's conductor emeritus.
From 1993 until 2003 he was conductor and music director of the Fayetteville Symphony, and was later music director of the Greensboro Philharmonic.
He was principal guest conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra of the Ukraine in Kyiv (1996-2000) and was also a principal guest conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra 'Mihail Jora' in Bacau, Romania, and principal tour conductor of the Eastern European Philharmonic.
He was founder (in 1996) and artistic director of the International Institute for Conductors, an international training programme for professional conductors based in Romania, Greece and Bulgaria.
He also taught at a series of American universities - he was assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin (1964-67), associate professor at Drake University (1988) and associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (1988-95), then promoted to professor in 1995, where he was director of orchestral activities for twenty years. He also lectured at Wittenberg University (1969-70) and was a member of the jury at the Silvestri International Instrumental Competition at Tirgu-Mures in Romania (1993).
His students have won numerous awards and hold music directorships with various European and American orchestras and universities.
Robert Gutter died unexpectedly in Moldova on 8 May 2017, aged seventy-eight, whilst travelling abroad teaching and preparing for summer concerts scheduled in Romania and Greece.