Alfred Reed on his 100th birthday

On 25 January, Alfred Reed would have celebrated his 100th birthday. Reason enough to commemorate the composer, arranger, conductor and publisher. Dr Alfred Reed’s life was intertwined with music almost from the beginning of his life. His parents loved good music and they made it part of their daily lives; therefore, the standard repertoire of symphonic and operatic music was already known to him when he was still in primary school.

He began playing the trumpet at the age of 10 and was already playing professionally when he was still in high school. Shortly after, he began the serious study of harmony and counterpoint as a precursor to composition, in which he had more ambition and interest than in playing. After working for three years at the Radio Workshop in New York, he spent the next three years serving in World War II. There his interest in concert band and his music was greatly aroused as a member of the Air Force Band. After discharge, he enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music to study under Vittorio Giannini. He then became a composer and arranger at NBC and at ABC in 1948, writing and arranging music for radio, TV, records and films.

In 1953 he resumed his academic work (interrupted by his work at NBC) and became conductor of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra while studying at Baylor University in Texas. His work “Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra” won the Luria Prize. Two years later he accepted the position of publisher in a music publishing company and for the next 11 years he became involved with the problems of educational music at all levels. In 1966, he joined the Faculty of the School of Music at the University of Miami, where he developed the first 4-year music industry programme.

In 1980, after his long-time friend and colleague Dr. Frederick Fennell retired, he was appointed music director and conductor of the “University of Miami Symphonic Wind Ensemble”.
With over 200 published works in all media, some of which have been on the desired performance list for over 25 years, Dr. Reed is one of the world’s greatest composers and his compositions are among the most performed works.

In addition to winning the Luria Prize in 1959, he received over 60 other recognitions. His work as a guest conductor has taken him to 49 states in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Australia and South America. He was the first “foreign” conductor to be invited by the world famous Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra and today he is the most performed foreign composer in Japan. Alfred Reed died on 17 September 2005 in Miami, Floria.

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