Donald Cobb was born in 1936 in Oakland, California. His music-making began in the family home, and at age 15 in a hotel summer band. He studied with composers Richard Donovan and Leon Kirchner at Yale and Darius Milhaud at Mills College. He has taught and led musical ensembles in many schools and colleges, including Mills College, the Athenian School, Wildshaw School in San Francisco and Friendsville Academy in Tennessee. Community and traditional song has been an abiding study. In the 1970’s, he was musical director of the Oakland Museum Spring Concerts, highlighting music of American and California composers.
The composer’s path of finding musical expression through poetic language and the contours of our spoken language led first to the Irish poet, W. B. Yeats, and his Crazy Jane Poems , and followed over years to the possibilities for song in the work of admired American poets, including Walt Whitman, Vachel Lindsay, Robinson Jeffers and Gary Snyder, whose translation of Cold Mountain Poems by Han-shan is the basis of another recent volume, Cold Mountain Songs , scored for high voice, violin and piano.