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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.

About the Sousa/Ostwald Award Archives

Ernest OstwaldType: 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 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.

Sousa/Ostwald Award Winners

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.

  • 1956: J. Clifton Williams, Fanfare and Allegro
  • 1957: J. Clifton Williams, Symphonic Suite
  • 1958: James Mark Quinn, Portrait of the Land
  • 1959: Maurice Weed, Introduction and Scherzo
  • 1960: Florian Mueller, Overture in G
  • 1961: Joseph Willcox Jenkins, Cumberland Gap Overture
  • 1962: Fritz Velke, Concertino for Band
  • 1963: Frederic H. Ashe, Concert Suite
  • 1964: Robert E. Jager, Symphony for Band
  • 1965: Frederick Beyer, Overture for Band
  • 1966: John Barnes Chance, Variations on a Korean Folk Song
  • 1967: Lawrence Weiner, Daedalic Symphony
  • 1968: Robert E. Jager, Diamond Variations
  • 1969: Richard Willis, Aria and Toccata
  • 1970: Fisher Tull, Toccata
  • 1971: Karl Kroeger, Divertimento for Concert Band
  • 1972: Robert E. Jager, Sinfonietta
  • 1973: Roger Nixon, Festival Fanfare March
  • 1974: James S. Sclater, Visions
  • 1975: Robert M. Panerio Sr., Jubiloso
  • 1976: Loretta Jankowski, Todesband
  • 1977: William H. Hill, Danses Sacred and Profane
  • 1978: James Barnes, Symphony, Opus 35
  • 1979: No Winner Chosen
  • 1980: James E. Curnow, Mutanza
  • 1981: James Barnes, Visions Macabre
  • 1982: David R. Holsinger, Armies of the Omnipresent Otserf
  • 1983: Martin Mailman, Exaltations
  • 1984: James E. Curnow, Symphonic Variants for Euphonium and Band
  • 1985: Joseph H. Downing, Symphony for Winds and Percussion
  • 1986: David R. Holsinger, In the Spring, at the Time When the Kings Go Off to War
  • 1987: David Sartor, Synergistic Parable
  • 1988: Dana Wilson, Piece of Mind
  • 1989: Martin Mailman, For Precious Friends Hid in Death's Dateless Night
  • 1990: Gregory Youtz, Fire Works
  • 1991: Timothy Mahr, The Soaring Hawk
  • 1992: Timothy Mahr, Endurance - Commission
  • 1993: Ron Nelson, Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H)
  • 1994: Ron Nelson, Chaconne (In Memoriam) - Commission
  • 1995: Anthony Iannaccone, Sea Drift
  • 1996: Anthony Iannaccone, Psalms For A Great Country - Commission
  • 1997: Dan Welcher, Zion
  • 1998: Dan Welcher, Circular Marches - Commission
  • 1999: Donald Grantham, Fantasy Variations
  • 2000: Donald Grantham, Southern Harmony
  • 2001: No Winner Chosen
  • 2002: Peter Graham, Harrison's Dream
  • 2003: No Contest Held
  • 2004: No Contest Held
  • 2005: John Mackey, Redline Tango
  • 2006: No Contest Held
  • 2007: Michael Daugherty, Raise the Roof
  • 2009: John Mackey, Aurora Awakes
  • 2011: Yo Goto, Songs for Wind Ensemble
  • 2012: Michael Gandolfi, Flourishes and Meditations on a Renaissance Theme
  • 2013: Aaron Perrine, Pale Blue on Deep
  • 2014: Steven Bryant, Concerto for Alto Saxophone
  • 2015: Aaron Perrine, Only Light
  • 2016: Paul Dooley, Masks and Machines
  • 2017: Christopher Lowry, A Cypress Prelude
  • 2018: James Stephenson, Symphony No. 2- "Voices"
  • 2019: David Biedenbender, Unquiet Hours
  • 2020: Erik Santos - The Seer
  • 2021: Peter Meechan - Perpetua
  • 2022: Zhou Tian - Sinfonia
  • 2023: Andrew David Perkins - Tuebor Suite