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ABA Sousa/Ostwald Award

A history of the American Bandmasters Association's annual Sousa/Ostwald Award for best new composition for symphonic band.

J. Clifton Williams (1956, 1957)

1956: J. Clifton Williams, Fanfare and Allegro

1957: J. Clifton Williams, Symphonic Suite

James Clifton Williams, Jr. (1923–1976), was one of America's leading wind ensemble composers and a virtuoso hornist with the San Antonio and New Orleans Symphony Orchestras.

Williams received his BM from Louisiana State University in 1947, where he studied with Helen M. Gunderson, and his MM from the Eastman School of Music in 1949, where he studied with Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson. He then served as composition faculty at the University of Texas School of Music and at the University of Miami School of Music, where he was chair of the theory and composition department until his death in 1976.

Williams won the first ABA Ostwald Award in 1956 for his Fanfare and Allegro and won the award the following year for his Symphonic Suite. Both pieces remain staples in the concert band repertoire.

Selected recordings at SCPA

Fanfare and Allegro

  • ABA CD (1992), University of Maryland Symphonic Wind Ensemble, American Sounds 4 - Russians East Europe +2
  • ABA CD, US Marine Corps Band "President's Own," Bicentennial Collection
  • ABA CD, US Army Band, 67th Annual ABA Convention, 2001

Symphonic Suite

  • ABA CD (1999), Tara Winds, 65th ABA Convention, 1999
  • ABAR28 LP, The Music Man Band, ABA76

James Mark Quinn (1958)

1958: James Mark Quinn, Portrait of the Land

James Mark Quinn (b. 1936) is an award-winning composer of works for theater, television, and the concert stage. His chamber music, songs, and other works in various media have earned him over 44 consecutive awards from the Popular Awards Panel of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

Quinn worked as composer/librettist on the Emmy Award–winning and Blue Ribbon Citation Award–winning opera-ballet Requiem for a Slave and as the principal composer and associate lyricist of the musical Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?, which holds performance records in Chicago, Detroit, and Philadelphia.

Quinn remains the youngest composer ever to have won the ABA Ostwald Award, which he received for Portrait of the Land in 1958, written when he was just 21.

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR256 LP, Fourth All American Band Masters Band, 1958
  • MENC873 LP (Morlan subcollection), New York All-State High School Band, 1959 NYSSMA Festival Concert

Maurice Weed (1959)

1959: Maurice Weed, Introduction and Scherzo for Band

Maurice Weed (1912–2005) received a bachelor of arts in composition from Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, where he studied with H. Owen Reed, and an MM and PhD in composition from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Edward Royce, Burrill Phillips, Bernard Rogers, and Howard Hanson.

Weed taught music and served as supervisor of instrumental music for the public schools of Iona, Michigan, from 1934 to 1936, and for Three Rivers, Michigan, from 1937 to 1943. He served as faculty at Ripon College, the Eastman School of Music, Northern Illinois University (where he was head of the music department until 1974), and Western Carolina University.

His compositions have been performed in many notable venues including the concert hall of the Eastman School of Music, Carnegie Hall in New York, and Constitution Hall in Washington, DC. Weed has won many notable awards including the National Symphony Orchestra's 25th anniversary award in 1956, first prize in the competition MacDowell Fellowship in 1961, the J. Fisher & Bro. Centennial Award in 1964, and the Pedro Paz Award in 1966.

Weed won the ABA Ostwald Award in 1959 for his Introduction and Scherzo for Band.

Recordings at SCPA

  • ABAD3103 CD, Brigham Young University Concert Band, [December 1, 1960]
  • ABA Greg Randall tape 19, Las Cruces High School Symphonic Band

Florian Mueller (1960)

1960: Florian Mueller, Overture in G

Florian F. Mueller (1909–1983) was principal oboist of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and a major developer of the American school of oboe playing. He performed under Frederick Stock, Artur Rodzinsky, Rafael Kubelik, and Fritz Reiner, and guest composer-conductors Maurice Ravel, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Igor Stravinsky, and Zoltan Kodaly. As a composer he heard some of his works performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

Mueller left the CSO to serve on the faculty at the University of Michigan, where he taught oboe and played in the faculty woodwind quintet and baroque trio.

Mueller also served on the faculty at Roosevelt University, where he was professor of oboe and music theory, conductor of the university orchestra, and a member of the university senate.

Mueller’s Overture in G, which won the 1960 Ostwald Award, is a piece in sonata-allegro form containing a fugue based on a hymn tune by Thomas Tallis.

Recordings at SCPA

  • Midwest LP no. 7, 1973, LaSalle-Peru Township HS Band

Joseph Willcox Jenkins (1961)

1961: Joseph Willcox Jenkins, Cumberland Gap Overture

Joseph Willcox Jenkins (1928–2014) was an American composer and professor of music. Jenkins served as faculty at the Mary Pappert School of Music, at Duquesne University, where he served as head of the theory and composition department and taught music theory, orchestration, and composition, and ended his career as Professor Emeritus.

Jenkins studied pre-law at Saint Joseph's University (then St. Joseph's College) in Philadelphia. During this time he also studied composition and counterpoint with Vincent Persichetti at the Philadelphia Conservatory. Jenkins received a master of music degree from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied under Thomas Canning, Howard Barlow, Bernard Rogers, and Howard Hanson, among others, and he received his doctorate from Catholic University, where he studied with William L. Graves and Conrad Bernier.

During his military service, Jenkins was the arranger for the United States Army Field Band and the Armed Forces Radio Network, as well as chief arranger and assistant conductor of the United States Army Chorus.

In addition to his university teaching, Jenkins worked in Pittsburgh as the organist and orchestra director at St. Edmund's Academy and composed works for the orchestra at the Ellis School. He composed works for other elementary and secondary schools, including the Holy Innocents High School of Pittsburgh and the Marlborough School of Los Angeles.

Jenkins won the 1961 Ostwald Award for his Cumberland Gap Overture, inspired by the Cumberland region of the Appalachians between Kentucky and Tennessee.

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR56 LP, Duke Concert Band, ABA117
  • ABAR468 LP, Alabama All State Blue Band and White Band, 1963

Fritz Velke (1962)

1962: Fritz Velke, Concertino for Band 

John Arthur "Fritz" Velke II (1930–2005) was a Fairfax County (Virginia) music teacher and conductor of the National Concert Band of America until his retirement in 1997. He received a bachelor's degree in 1953 and a master's degree in 1955, both in music, from Catholic University and was president and chief executive of Velke Publishing Co.

Velke was born Washington, DC, and grew up in Alexandria. As a child he studied piano, violin, and trombone. He played several seasons as a violinist in the Fairfax Symphony Orchestra and as a trombonist in the U.S. Air Force Band. In 1986, he began performing with Windjammers Unlimited and in 1991 became a member of the guest conductor staff.

Velke taught music in Fairfax County Schools for 29 years. His ensembles included elementary school and high school bands, high school chorus, elementary strings, and middle and high school orchestra including his award-winning orchestra at West Springfield High School. He also conducted several community bands, including the Alexandria Citizens' Band and the Falls Church Civic Band.

Velke won the ABA Ostwald Award in 1962 for his Concertino for Band.

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR931 LP (Michalski), Clarion State College Marching and Symphonic Bands, 1976-1977
  • ABAR388 LP, Clemson University Concert Band, 1971 Season Excerpts
  • ABAR236 LP, 1967 All-Maryland High School Band

Frederic H. Ashe (1963)

1963: Frederic Ashe, Concert Suite

Frederic Ashe (1917–1968) began piano studies at the age of eight with graduates of the Peabody Conservatory and played cornet in his high school band in Pennsylvania. Ashe received a bachelor of music degree and master of music degree from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida.

During World War II, Ashe served in the 24th Infantry Division Band as a trumpeter, arranger, and dance band leader. In 1948, he joined the faculty at the University of Miami School of Music where he taught theory, orchestration, and composition, served as chairman of the theory department, and was a member of the School of Music council.

Winner of the 1963 Ostwald Award, Ashe’s Concert Suite contains three movements: Fanfare and Scherzo, Andante Religioso, and Allegro Vivace.

Selected recordings at SCPA

  • ABAR126 LP, Alabama All State Blue Band and White Band, 1964
  • ABAR127 LP, Colorado State College Symphonic Winds, 1964
  • ABAR63 LP, ABAR2755 LP, Purdue Symphony Band, 1964 Concert Highlights, Vol. 2