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The American Wind Band: A Cultural History


1952


  • International Events:

    • Congress passes Immigration Act

    • Truman signs “GI Bill of Rights” for Korean War veterans

    • General Eisenhower and Senator Richard Nixon are elected president and vice president

  • Music in the United States:

    • First American tape-music concert is presented at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City by two Columbia University composers, Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky

    • Gail Kubik receives Pulitzer prize for Symphony Concertante.

    • Robert Russell Bennett orchestrates Richard Rogers’ music for the TV documentary series Victory at Sea

    • Elliot Carter’s Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello, and Harpsichord is considered one of his masterpieces.

    • Copland composes Piano Fantasy (1952-1957) with a rigid ten-note row. He publishes Music and Imagination.

    • August 29, pianist David Tudor presents premiere of John Cage’s 4’33, a study in silence

    • Riegger composes one movement Woodwind Quintet, op. 51, with peppery energy, idiomatic writing, serial chromaticism and rigorous canons.

    • Earle Brown composes Folio, a series of compositions based upon artistic concepts in the sculptures of Alexander Calder and paintings of Jackson Pollock

    • Peter Mennin composes Concertato: Moby Dickfor orchestra

    • “Big Mama” Thornton’s version of “Hound Dog” is Elvis Presley’s model; later she is model for Janis Joplin

  • American Wind Band Music:
    • Fennell sends out 400 letters to composers in summer inviting them to compose for the new ensemble he has in mind


    • On Sept 20 Frederick Fennell founds Eastman Wind Ensemble.

    • Stravinsky revises his Octet for Winds

    • Four symphonies are premiered by Commanding Officer and Conductor Francis E. Resta for West Point Sesquicentennial Celebration: Darius Milhaud’s West Point Symphony, Morton Gould’s Symphony no. 4 “West Point”, Robert Dvorak’s West Point Symphony op. 311, and Roy Harris’ West Point Symphony.

    • Charles Cushing composes Angel Campfor West Point Sesquicentennial commissioning project

    • Vincent Persichetti composes Psalm for band

    • Stravinsky composes Concertino and Tango (1953) for miscellaneous bands of winds and strings.

    • National Association of Secondary School Principals makes statement of support for music ensembles rehearsing and offering private lessons during the school day.

1953

  • International Events:

    • President Eisenhower announces U.S. will not interfere in affairs of countries behind the “Iron Curtain.”

    • Federal jury in New York convicts thirteen communists of conspiring to teach overthrow of U.S. government

  • Music in the United States:

    • Martinu’s opera The Marriage opens in New York

    • Henry Cowell composes what many consider to be his greatest music, Seven Rituals of Music

    • Chou Wen-chung, former pupil of Varese, combines modern American ideas with ancient Oriental ones in orchestral works All in the Spring Wind and And the Fallen Petals
    • Sessions uses row technique in Sonata for Violin Solo


    • Warren Benson organizes first continuous percussion ensemble at Ithaca College

    • William Schuman writes a baseball opera, The Mighty Casey

    • Persichetti writes Symphony for Strings (Symphony no. 5)

    • Stravinsky composes ballet Agnon

    • Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond record witty version of Perdido, quoting several popular and classical tunes in improvisation at Oberlin College concert.

    • Bill Haley and the Comets top charts with rock and roll for the first time with “Crazy Man Crazy”

  • American Wind Band Music:

    • On June 22, a Jubilee Concert commemorating Goldman Band’s 2,000th performance occurs on the mall in New York’s Central Park. Conducting their own compositions are Copland, Gould, Persichetti, and Grainger

    • Fennell describes historic fist concert of Eastman Wind Ensemble in March issue of American Music Teacher.

    • Percy Grainger composes The Power of Rome and the Christian Heart for wind ensemble and organ.

    • Vincent Persichetti writes Pageant, a sequel to Psalm for Band

    • Paul Creston composes Celebration Overture

    • American School Band Directors Association is founded. National Catholic Bandmasters Association is also established.

    • Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma, national band fraternity and sorority commission original works.

1954

  • International Events:

    • In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka U.S. Supreme Court rules segregation unlawful and orders schools to admit African American children in “all deliberate speed”
  • Music in the United States:


    • Menotti composes Pulitzer Prize-winning opera Saint of Bleeker Street

    • Toscanini retires as conductor of NBC Orchestra

    • Karel Husa arrives in U.S. becoming faculty member at Cornell University

    • Quincy Porter wins Pulitzer Prize for Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra.

    • Stravinsky composes Septet, Three Songs of Shakespeare, In Memoriam Dylan Thomas, and Three Russian Peasant Songs

    • Haley’s “Shake Rattle and Roll” is smash hit

    • Nearly 200 record companies are established in the U.S.

    • Elvis Presley’s career erupts with landmark recording session of “That’s Alright” at Sun Records in Memphis

    • Charles Ives dies in New York City

    • Leonard Bernstein makes his first appearance on television with Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony as part of the program Omnibus

  • American Wind Band Music:

    • LeBlanc Publications issues Fennell’s Time and the Winds

    • Bernard Rogers sets Three Japanese Dances written earlier for orchestra

    • Hanson composes Chorale and Alleluia based on Swedish hymn by commission from Goldman Band for ABA convention at West Point

    • Warren Benson composes Concertino (for solo alto saxophone) for Sigurd Rascher

    • Edgar Varese creates Deserts for winds, piano and percussion instruments alternating with “organized sound” on tape in large-arch sound.

    • Morton Gould composes Mini-Suite for young band.

    • E. F. Goldman visits and works with 103 school and college bands

1955

  • International Events:
    • Blacks boycott segregated Montgomery bus line after Rosa Parks refuses to move from her seat for a white man.


    • Congress authorizes president to use force if necessary to protect Nationalist China against Communist China

  • Music in the United States:

    • Marian Anderson becomes the first black woman to sing with Metropolitan Opera

    • Survey reveals 100 radio stations broadcast a weekly total of 13,795 hours of “concert music”

    • Alan Hovhaness composes Symphony no. 2: Mysterious Mountain

    • Bill Haley and the Comets establish rock and roll as hit music with “Rock Around the Clock,” which becomes theme music for movie Blackboard Jungle, and connects rock with youthful rebellion

    • Lawrence Welk begins first weekly TV show with musical format.

    • Menotti’s opera The Saint of Bleeker Street receives the Pulitzer Prize in Music, his second.

    • Schuller writes Tribute to Duke Ellington

  • American Wind Band Music

    • Battisti commissions more than twenty new works by important composers for Ithaca High School Band from 1955-1967, including Persichetti, Husa, Benson, Wilder, Ward, Bassett, Hartley, and Childs

    • Frank Erikson composes Toccata for Band, which is accessible for school bands

    • Joseph Willcox Jenkinds composes American Overture for Band

    • Clare Grundman sets early American tunes in Kentucky 1800 for school band

1956

  • International Events:
    • Southern congressmen call on states to resist Supreme Court ruling on segregation. Virginia challenges ruling by permitting public funds to be used for private schools.


    • Eisenhower and Nixon are reelected.

  • Music in the United States

    • Bernstein produces musical comedy Candide

    • Elvis Presley achieves national stardom with “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Hound Doug,” “Don’t Be Cruel,” and “Love Me Tender.”

    • Moore’s opera The Ballad of Baby Doe premieres at Central City’s historic opera house in Colorado.

    • Immigrant composer Ernest Toch receives Pulitzer prize for Symphony no. 3.

    • William Bolcum sets forty-six poems of Blake in Songs of Innocence and Experience (1956-1984)

    • Henry Brant composes The Grand Universal Circus.

    • Lerner and Lowe collaborate on musical My Fair Lady, based on Pygmalion.

    • Dizzy Gillespie and band are sent by U.S. State Department on goodwill tour.

    • “Hard bop” or “funk” emerges in jazz.

    • Schuman completes New England Triptych, based on tunes of William Billings; it is later recast for concert band (1956-1975)

  • American Wind Band Music

    • Ostwald Uniform Company establishes contest for best composition submitted to American Band Association jury.

    • Vincent Persichetti completes Symphony no. 6 for Band, op. 69 on commission from Washington University in St. Louis.

    • Aaron Copland sets Variations on a Shaker Melody from Appalachian Spring for band.

    • Clifton Williams writes Fanfare and Allegro, winning first Ostwald award.

    • William Latham sets Three Chorale Preludes.
    • E. F. Goldman dies February 21. Richard Franko assumes leadership of Goldman Band and commissions Bergsma, Giannini, and Moore.


    • J. J. Richardson dies; he was conductor of Long Beach Muinicipal and Ringling Brothers Circus Bands, president of ABA, and composer of 120 band works.

    • Gould writes Santa Fe Saga for concert band.

1957

  • International Events

    • U.S. occupation forces leave Japan

    • Congress enacts Civil Rights Act prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin. (First Civil Rights legislation since the Reconstruction of 1866-1877).

    • 9 black students enter Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, guarded by federal troops.

  • Music in the United States

    • Norman Dello Joio wins Pulitzer Prize for Meditations on Ecclesiastes.

    • Gunther Schuller coins term “third stream music” for amalgam of jazz and classical music.

    • Edgar Varese composes Poem electronique working with architect Le Corbusier for Brussels World’s Fair Pavilion of Philips Corporation evoking spatial sound as living matter.

    • Leonard Bernstein produces musical West Side Story in New York.

    • Babbitt composes progressive jazz All Set for Brandeis University Jazz Festival, scoring it for seven instruments.

    • Persichetti writs Symphony no. 7, Liturgic on St. Louis Symphony’s eightieth anniversary, drawing upon his Hymns and Responses of the Church Year (1955).

  • American Wind Band Music
    • Robert Boudreau founds American Wind Symphony as professional ensemble in Pittsburgh. Ned Rorem composes Sinfonia for 15 Wind Instruments on commission from group.


    • William Schuman composes Chester (Overture for Band) from his New England Trypitich for orchestra.

    • Clifton Williams writes Symphonic Suite and receives ABA/Ostwald Award.

    • Howard Hanson transcribes Song of Democracy for band and chorus based on poetry of Walt Whitman.

    • Ford Foundation investigates relationship between arts and society.

    • Walter Harley composes Concerto for 23 Winds. William Latham sets sixteenth-century dances and airs with A Court Festival.

    • Vaclav Nelhybel emigrates to U.S. and writes more than sixty works for band.

1958

  • International Events

    • Arkansas Governor Faubus defies Supreme Court ruling by closing four high schools and reopening them as private schools.

    • Soviets launch Sputnik 3, gathering much scientific information from the unmanned satellite.

  • Music in the United States

    • Barber’s opera Vanessa wins Pulitzer Prize in Music.

    • Babbit likens himself to theoretical mathematicians.

    • John Cage’s Concert for Piano and Orchestra in New York draws riotous response.

    • Rodgers and Hammerstein produce musical Flower Drum Song.

    • Stravinsky writes his first thoroughly serial composition, Threni: id est Lamentationes Jeremiae Prophetae, for soloists, chorus, and orchestra.

    • Duke Ellington composes Satin Doll.
    • Leonard Bernstein succeeds Dmitri Mitropoulos as conductor of New York Philharmonic Orchestra, a position he holds until 1969. He is the first American-born comductor to hold this position and introduces thematic programming, televised Young People’s Concerts, and his survey of Mahler symphonies.


    • Congress approves specific version of “The Star Spangled Banner” as official national anthem

    • Hindemith writes Pittsburgh Symphony.

    • Schuller publishes Early Jazz: Its Roots and Development.

  • American Wind Band Music

    • Vittorio Giannini composes Symphony no. 3 on commission from Duke University.

    • Willaim Schuman sets “When Jesus Wept” from New England Tryptich, and the Goldman Band premieres work.

    • Alan Hovhannes composes Symphony no. 4, op. 165 for wind orchestra.

    • Robert Russell Bennett composes Symphonic Songs and Concerto Grosso fro Woodwind Quintet.

    • Ron Nelson composes Mayflower Overture for Fennell and Eastman Wind Ensemble.

    • John Barnes Chance serves Eighth U.S. Army Band during Korean War.

1959

  • International Events:

    • Alaska and Hawaii become 49th and 50th states.

    • Desegregation of schools in Norfolk and Arlington, Virginia begins.

    • Vice president Nixon engages in famous “kitchen debate” with Soviet Premier Khrushchev in Moscow.

  • Music in the United States

    • Alan Berg’s opera Wozzeck is revived in New York; it was originally premiered in Berlin in 1934.

    • Gunther Schuller composes Seven Studies on Themes of Paul Klee for the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra, one of his best known works.
    • Richard Rodgers produces musical Sound of Music based on World War II in Austria.


    • Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue is a landmark recording selling millions world-wide and becoming jazz musicians “bible.”

    • John La Montaine’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra wins Pulitzer Prize.

    • Musical Fiorello! Receives Pulitzer Prize for musical drama.

  • American Wind Band Music

    • Vittorio Giannini composes Symphony no. 3.

    • Ithaca High School commissions Warren Benson’s first work for winds, Night Song

    • Norman Dello Joio implements Young Composers Project funded by Ford Foundation administered by National Music Council (1959-1973).

    • Charles Carter composes Overture for Winds for school bands.

    • Eleven Pulitzer Prize composers have written at least one work for wind band: Schuman, Hanson, Copland, Sowerby, Ives, Piston, Thomson, Moore, Porter, Toch, and Barber.

1960

  • International Events:

    • African Americans stage sit-ins in South to force desegregation in public places.

    • Fidel Castro confiscates U.S. property in Cuba.

    • Senators Kennedy and Johnson are elected and vice president repectively. Kennedy at 43 is youngest in history and first Roman Catholic.

  • Music in the United States

    • Elliot Carter is awarded Pulitzer Prize for Stringg Quartet no. 2.

    • Minimalism movement in American music comes to fore.

    • Igor Stravinsky composes The Flood, a musical play broadcast on CBS television.

    • Vittorio Giannini composes The Medead for orchestra and chorus in an intensely Romantic style.
    • Karel Husa experiments with serial technique in Mosaiques for orchestra.


    • Most popular musicals include The Fantasticks, Oliver!, Bye Bye Birdie, and Camelot

    • Copland publishes Copland on Music.

  • American Wind Band Music:

    • National Band Association is founded by Traugott Rohner, publisher of The Instrumentalist. It becomes the largest band association in U.S.

    • By 1960 there is a great increase in original wind band works written, but they are rarely programmed in performances.

    • Roger Nixon composes Fiesta del Pacifico.

    • Walter Beeler transcribes Bernstein’s Overture to Candide for band.

1961

  • International Events:

    • U.S. breaks diplomatic relations with Cuba, calling it “Soviet satellite.” Cuban exiles trained by U.S. make unsuccessful attempt to overthrow Castro in “Bay of Pigs.”

    • President Kennedy establishes Peace Corps.

    • Alan Sheperd is America’s first man in space. Kennedy states U.S. goal to “land America on the moon in a decade” and proposes $1.8 billion ten-year space program.

  • Music in the United States

    • Walter Piston is awarded Pulitzer Prize for Symphony no. 7.

    • Folk singer Pete Seeger composes “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”

    • Film Breakfast at Tiffany’s features song Moon River by Henery Mancini and Johnny Mercer.

    • Benjamin Lees composes Visions of Poets, a large-scale dramatic cantata for the opening of the Seattle Opera House.

    • Vincent Persichetti writes textbook Twentieth Century Harmony.


  • American Wind Band Music

    • R.F. Goldman states, “The wind ensemble is the realization of what a concert band aims for in its most musically serious moments.”

    • Western and Northwestern Divisions of CBDNA commission Ingolf Dahl to write Singonietta for Band.

    • John Barnes Chance composes Incantation and Dance.

    • Elizabeth Lutyens composes Symphonies for Solo Piano, Winds, Harp and Percussion, op. 46

    • Dahl’s imaginative Sinfonetta for concert band shows his unabashed indebtedness to Stravinsky.

1962

  • International Events:

    • President Kennedy demands Soviet removal of missile installations in Cuba and orders blockade. Khrushchev agrees to dismantle bases in intense fourteen day of world drama.

    • Supreme Court rules public schools cannot require recitation of prayers.

  • Music in the United States

    • Robert Ward produces opera The Crucible and is awarded Pulitzer Prize.

    • Samuel Barber receives Pulitzer Prize for Piano Concerto.

    • Lincoln Center opens with Bernstein conducting New York Philharmonic.

    • Lou Harrison composes A Joyous Procession and A Solemn Procession each based on a hepatonic mode and just intonation.

    • Paul Hindemith composes and conducts Organ Concerto with the New York Philharmonic.

    • Bob Dylan achieves recognition with song “Blowin’ in the Wind.”

    • Norman Dello Joio produces opera Blood Moon.

    • Gunther Shuman stops performing to compose, write, teach, administer, and broadcast. His book Horn Technique remains a standard reference (second edition 1992).

  • American Wind Band Music


    • Norman Dello Joio composes Variants on a Medieval Tune for Duke University.

    • Goldman sets Grainger’s Handel on the Strand (1912).

    • Samuel Adler pens Southwestern Sketches.

    • Vincent Persichetti continues to write for band with Bagatelles.

    • Clifton Williams composes Variation Overture for school bands, dedicating it to Frederick Fennell.

    • Francis McBeth composes Chant and Jubilo for school bands.

    • The Twenty-sixth North Carolina and First Wisconsin Brigade Bands are resurrected for Civil War Centennial.

    • Frederick Fennell is awarded Congressional Centennial Committee Medal of Honor for his contributions to preserving Civil War music in his Project Union.

    • Fennell is invited to guest-conduct Minnesota Orchestra in Civil War uprising concert.


1963

  • International Events

    • Dr. King leads massive March on Washington in support of equal rights for African Americans delivering one of most powerful speeches in American history, “I Have a Dream”

    • President Kennedy assassinated November 22 in Dallas while riding in motorcade. Vice President Johnson is sworn in as president, as nation mourns its fallen leader.

    • U.S. aid to South Vietnam continues.

  • Music in the United States

    • Gunther Schuller conducts Twentieth Century Innovations concert series in New York, programs of new music sponsored by Carnegie Foundation until 1965.
    • Schuller begins distinguished tenure teaching at Tanglewood (1963-1984).


    • New Rorem composes symphonic poem Lions in pop-style of Billie Holliday and swing era.

    • Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, and Pete Seeger lead singing of “We Shall Overcome” in final concert of Newport Folk Festival.

    • Samuel Barber’s Piano Concerto no. 1 wins the Pulitzer Prize in Music, his second.

    • Bernstien writes Symphony no. 3, Kaddish.



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