ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Famous Concert Band Composers

Updated on November 16, 2018
Reginald Thomas profile image

This author has been an educator, conductor, and trombonist for the past 40 years. His experience qualifies him as an expert in this field.

Famous Concert Band Composers

To quote Arthur Fiedler, (past conductor of the Boston Pops Orchestra) “As music director of the World Symphony Orchestra when it was organized in the fall of 1971, I was faced with the perplexing problem of selecting appropriate program material. I had before me musicians from 66 nations. To recognize the sponsoring country, the United States, I decided to begin the concerts with Aaron Copland’s - Fanfare for the Common Man and end with John Philip Sousa’s The Stars and Stripes Forever.


I begin this article with this famous quote as there are no two finer composers that come to mind when talking about concert band music. Both of these gentleman represent decades of tradition in performances of their music through the performance medium known as the concert band.This article will explore the various types of literature performed by the concert band and the composers that helped build their special niche in the music world.


Original Compositions or Arrangements?

For clarification, it is important to distinguish between original compositions and musical arrangements. A composer creates original music compositions which is performed by various ensembles. A musical arranger is one who takes original material and arranges it in his/her own distinct style. This might mean changing or enhancing the rhythm, harmony, and or the form of the original composition. As an example, George Gershwin composed many original compositions to be arranged by many music arrangers overtime. These arrangements have been written for many types of performance mediums such as: orchestra, symphonic band, choir, jazz ensemble, and so.


What is a Musical Transcription?

A transcription in music is a music composition that was originally written for one type of group such as an Orchestra that has been transcribed or re-orchestrated for let’s say a Concert or Symphonic Band. The transcriber or orchestrator stays within the parameters of the original composition set by the composer. Note for note.
Mozart, Mendelssohn, Tchaikovsky and many other composers from past centuries have had their famous compositions for orchestra transcribed for Brass Band, and Symphonic Band by adapting to the instrumentation giving it a different timbre or tonal quality.

So, to recap, we have - a composition that is original music, an arrangement is an original composition re-written by an arranger, and a transcription is an original composition re - orchestrated for another medium for performance.


Below is a list of some of the most famous concert band composers.

  • Gustav Holst
  • Percy Grainger
  • Ralph Vaughn Williams
  • Robert Russell Bennett
  • James Curnow
  • Philip Sparke
  • Aaron Copland
  • Alfred Reed
  • Clifton Williams
  • Frank Ticheli
  • William Shuman
  • Vincent Persichetti
  • David Holsinger
  • Karel Husa
  • John Barnes Chance
  • Norman Dello Joio
  • Roger Nixon
  • Robert Jager
  • Gunther Schuller
  • Claude T Smith
  • Peter Graham


List of some of the most popular composers of marches

  • John Philip Sousa
  • Henry Fillmore
  • Julius Fucik
  • Edwin Franco Goldman
  • Russell Alexander
  • Robert B Hall
  • Fred Jewel
  • Karl L King
  • W. Paris Chambers
  • William Rimmer


There are hundreds of composers from this medium. I have mentioned but a few to give you an idea of some of the more famous concert band composers and how they differ from orchestral composers

Composer - Gustav Holst

Source

Gustav Holst (1874 - 1934)

Best known for his orchestral piece called The Planets, Gustav Holst was an English composer who had a profound influence on what we know today as the concert band. Two pieces of music that he wrote at the turn of the 20th century ultimately became staples in the literature for the concert band world wide.

First Suite in E flat for Military Band and Second Suite in F for Military Band can be found in just about every high school and college or university music libraries across this country. These two suites are made up of three movements each and based on English folk music. And as they are not extremely difficult to perform they do make ideal choices for teaching the fundamentals of high school and college band performance. Below, is a performance example of the Second Suite in F (my favorite).

Second Suite in F for Military Band, Gustav Holst

John Philip Sousa

The name John Philip Sousa is synonymous with bands worldwide as he was affectionately called the “march king”. Mr. Sousa set the standards for excellence in performance as he was the model many wanted to follow. He was the music director and conductor of the United States Marine Band in Washington DC from 1880 to 1892. During those twelve years Mr. Sousa served presidents Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland, and Harrison. As a conductor Sousa brought the Marine Band to an unprecedented level of excellence.

Mr. Sousa was known mostly by his music. He wrote his music during the late Romantic and early Modern periods of music history. He was one of the most popular figures of the day as he composed in every style, but notably for his marches. Below is a list of the various types of compositions he composed.

  • 15 Operettas
  • 5 Overtures
  • 11 Suites
  • 24 Dances
  • 28 Fantasies
  • 137 Marches

Along with these compositions, Sousa also wrote 322 arrangements of 19th Century Western European Symphonic works.
Today, every band in the world has performed or is performing a March written by Sousa. Below is a short list of some of his more popular ones.

  • Washington Post
  • Semper Fidelis
  • King Cotton
  • The Directorate
  • Hands Across the Sea
  • Fairest of the Fair

The most popular of all of his marches which is now the national march of the United States of America - The Stars & Stripes Forever.


Percy Grainger (1882 - 1961)

Another composer that found a place in the American Band movement was composer. Percy Grainger. He was Australian born and started his career in London, England as a pianist, then composer. He eventually moved to the United States where he spent the rest of his life. Many of his musical pieces were based on folk music. Much of his music was written for both the wind band and later orchestrated for the orchestra. Percy Grainger’s music is unique in that he has a special and most beautiful harmonic style of writing for wind instruments. Through his music and orchestrations he demands the most out of the instrument being played as well as the musician. His use of complex rhythms is challenging for any musician. Below are two compositions by Percy Grainger I am sure you will enjoy. The first is a beautiful ballad called Colonial Song that wrote for the memory of his mother.the second piece is called the Gum - Suckers March. The story behind the title of this delightful and most challenging piece is “gum-suckers” refers to the leaves of the eucalyptus tree. These leaves have a cool refreshing taste to them and people suck on the leaf for the liquid.

Claude T Smith (1932 - 1987)

Another extremely popular composer for the concert band during the 1970s and 80s was Claude T Smith. American born composer who grew up playing the Horn in F and composing an array of very exciting compositions that are still being performed today. His short career and life gave us a fantastic sampling of some great music for this medium. Mr. Smith composed 110 compositions for concert band, 12 orchestral works, and 15 choral works. His unique composing style is full of vitality and fresh new sounds he created with his palette of wind and percussion instruments. His harmonic and rhythmic style was so different from other composers of his period that his music soared with exuberance. Many of his works do challenge the player and conductor, but in the end is a fulfilling experience for musician and audience alike. Below is an audio recording of his Festival Variations that I think you will like.

© 2018 Reginald Thomas

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)