Curator, Special Collections in Performing Arts (SCPA)
Type: Scores, recordings, and information files on the American Bandmasters Association's Ostwald Award.
Collection dates: 1956-current
Description: This collection contains information files as well as recordings and scores of the pieces that have been awarded the Sousa/Ostwald Ostwald Award of the American Bandmasters Association.
History: The Ostwald family became interested in band music in 1936, when Ernest Ostwald (pictured at right) offered to finance for one year the New York magazine, School Music News. Together with his younger brother Adolph, Ernest immigrated to America after the First World War and became involved in the business of manufacturing chauffeur, livery, and other types of uniforms.
The Ostwald uniform manufacturing company continued to develop, and by the mid-1930s the Ostwalds started to focus on band uniforms. Together with the J.C. Penney network of stores, the Ostwalds were able to expand nationally and provide a wide selection of band uniforms to schools, universities, and various groups of amateurs or professionals interested in performing band music. While many uniform companies turned to military uniforms during World War II, the Ostwald name came to dominate the band uniform market. The Ostwalds capitalized on this success and built their own factory on Staten Island.
In 1951, the Ostwalds joined the American Bandmasters Association as one of their associate members and suppliers. Together they established the ABA/Ostwald Award, which is given to the best band composition written in the preceding year. Ernest Ostwald died in 1956, before the first award was presented in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Since the mid-1950s, the Ostwald Award has grown in importance and prestige, and has attained a position of national and international prominence. A foundation was created to assure continued funding for the future, and today the ABA/Ostwald Award is among the most prestigious composition prizes in the United States. The Sousa Foundation has joined with the ABA Foundation to financially support the former Ostwald Award, which has been renamed the Sousa/ABA/Ostwald Award.
This guide allows you to listen to excerpts of the winning music and meet the winners through a comprehensive collection of biographies and photographs.
A digital exhibit about the history of the Sousa/ABA/Ostwald and SCPA's collection is online at https://exhibitions.lib.umd.edu/ostwald. The exhibit highlights the Sousa/ABA/Ostwald Award from its initial conception to the latest winners. Visitors to the site can find a short biography and photo of each winning composer, descriptions of many compositions, and several sound recordings. Other visual memorabilia on display include score excerpts, album covers, programs from ABA conventions, announcements about the award, and historical photos of the Uniform by Ostwald factory.
Biographical information on the winners and information on the compositions, including some recordings, can be found on the following pages of this guide. More information is available on the SCPA website and the ABA website.
Photo: The first Ostwald Award, 1956. Left to right: Adolph Ostwald, Clifton Williams, and Lt. Col. William F. Santelmann.