Composer of the Week: Alfred Reed
Alfred Reed was a modern, American band composer who was born in 1921. Reed was born in New York City, and started his musical training by playing the trumpet (starting at age 10). He was such a strong player that he was able to play professionally by high school. However, his interests turned more to composing as he completed school. Afterwards, he worked for the Radio Workshop in New York as a composer. After three years, he joined the newly formed U.S. Air Force, where he served during World War II (which lasted from 1939-1945), playing in the 539th Air Force Band.
After his military service, Reed returned to being a full-time composer and conductor, enrolling at the famous Julliard School of Music. After he earned his degree, he went to work as a composer and arranger for both the NBC and ABC television networks. In 1953, he took a position with Baylor University, where he composed many pieces and instructed college students in conducting, composing, and more. He became interested in writing for school bands and orchestras, and eventually left Baylor to work in the Music Education and Music Theory/Composition departments at the University of Miami.
Alfred Reed wrote more than 200 pieces for band and orchestra. Concert bands, Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles are all similar, and have brass, woodwind and percussion instruments. His most well-known band pieces for these groups include The Hounds of Spring, Armenian Dances, Russian Christmas Music, Celebration Fanfare, and an arrangement of the folk tune Greensleeves. Alfred Reed died in 2005 in Miami, Florida, where he had lived since 1960.