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You're listening to the music of Don give us. This is done get us again. And as usual I'm wearing many hats as I act as composer conductor writer and commentator for this new series presented by the National Educational broadcasting network devoted to my music. I hastily add that I'm also a listener to the series so I hope you'll join me as we hear three works for a band on this record broadcast. Writing music for bands is not a new accomplishment for composers but the 20th century band is indeed a new instrument for all of us composers to use particularly the band developed here in our own country. But what was once a handful of ill assorted brass woodwind and percussion relegated to marches and pocas and operatic
Popery has been skilfully polished into a performing unit of tremendous artistic power blessed with almost unlimited tonal and color possibilities and capable of giving exquisite performances. The band in the hands of a great leader rivals a symphony orchestra in the potential of its artistic achievement. And I for one I'm thankful to the pioneers of music education who have painstakingly built this unit for us to use in composition. And not only that I'm also grateful that the band unlike the symphony orchestra field generally seems eager to accept new works written especially for it. Perhaps that is why I along with so many of my colleagues have written for a band. Or perhaps it is also because we grew up within the framework of a band oriented school system and have the sound of it in our blood so to speak from having played in it or known it intimately through most of our lives. For me my music education started when I became a student of Professor Wu Tracey director of the Cameron Missouri municipal band and my playing career started in a
band formed by the Cameron Rotary Club. During college days I wrote arrangements for the Texas Christian band and some of my early compositions were for that organization. It wasn't however until I first became acquainted with such major university bands as Michigan and Illinois. And the great service bands in Washington that I began to see the possibilities that existed and since 1950 I've written extensively for band in almost every form for this program I've selected Michael Waltz Waltz from the first symphony for band and score for narrator and band untitled downbeat and will began our band concert with a composition I call recipe and rhythm. I'm.
Already bored. With It.
Yeah already.
You lose. You lose. You. Lose. Was. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah oh. Yeah. The music was recipe and rhythm. The performance was by the United States Army Band and the composer conductor was Don Gillis. Our broadcast devoted to music written for a band continues now with the third movement from the Symphony Number one for a band. The score like so much of the music I have written is about my hometown of Cameron Missouri and the uncle Walt mentioned in the title uncle waltz waltz is indeed my uncle Walter Dunlap long a leading citizen of Camden Missouri and a man whose infectious good humor I try to represent in this character like music. The performance
you're about to hear is again by Colonel Hugh Currie's magnificent United States Army Band. Uncle Walt waltz. Oh. I. Think.
Thank you. Last. Thing.
Wow. During the past three minutes and 25 seconds the music of Uncle waltz waltz occupied our full attention. I hope as it was played by the United States Army Band under the baton of its composer Don Gillis the next music we will hear was written as a part of a rather gigantic composition for a band called Band concert. I had become dissatisfied with the names of forms for bands such as symphonic poems and symphonies since they were really more readily identified with the orchestra than with the band. Why not I ask myself write a piece in the form of what is indeed representative of the band and call it a band concert making its various movements those which are normally heard on such occasions beginning with an overture or having a waltz a novelty a soul for cornet and so forth. The work was begun in
1955 and completed in 1056 and was indeed a full fledged band concert complete to the closing March that such concerts always seem to use. The only problem was that the total timing for the entire work was an hour and 20 minutes. A most impractical length to devote to the work of any single composer at the usual band concert. And so while it has never been played completely as a band concert the several movements have all been widely used and among the most popular is this section called downbeat fable for narrator and band. The performance here is conducted by Dr. Kenneth snap at Interlochen and the narrator of this rather a model musicological metamorphosis is Dr. John Sargent. We'll hear it now. Downbeat. Or as. Far as.
Hi my name is John Sargent. I've been designated by the Committee for the promulgation and dissemination of extraneous information about music to appear here to promulgate and disseminate some extraneous information. And tonight our subject is the conductor. Yes. You know what I know. You know he's the man we need to. Lead the band for as well you doctor.
Good good. Good see. Just like I told you he leads and I just naturally follow that he leads the band follows. And you notice he's standing on a box and the name of that box is podium spelled p o d i u m o p o o d i u n Gould podium. The conductor uses a podium just like a King uses a throne. Well not quite like it. The conductor stands when the King sits down. Maybe that's the reason there are more conductors in King these days. The Kings can't stand being king any way students. The conductor is king of music when he is on the podium where the podium is a symbol.
Not that kind of a symbol. This is s y m b o l. Now cut that out musicians. Anyway you notice too that the conductor stands with his back toward the audience. That's not because he doesn't like your looks. A conductor he just naturally has to face the music school. Was Cool. So when the conductor mounts the podium he's the absolute boss. For instance should he want to hear a little four four time. All he does is wave his arm. Yes. And when he wants a waltz he waves his arms like this. Yeah.
Now when the conductor waved his arm gently like so we hear woodwind. And with a slightly different beat. We hear brasses. Naturally sometimes you want high music. And at other times you may want low music.
Good. Oh come on fellows I meant low not low down. Now if you'll notice he doesn't stand in front of all those musicians bare handed. He has a club. I mean a stick and that little stick is called a Tom. Be 18 and be 80. Oh that tongue. That tongue. Thank you. Elementary you say as you note your nearest neighbor while saying elementary. Well yes
I agree except you don't know where the podium and baton came from in the first place. Oh please tell us are you beg. And so I do come along with me now as we saunter along the centuries on history's mystical pathway for it all happen hundreds of years ago in a big forest in a faraway land. Now in the middle of this forest filled with giant cedars and Sequoia and this mysterious faraway land so many years ago it was a little bit runt of a tree that wouldn't hardly even be worth mentioning if it weren't for the fact that our entire story is built around it. It was a scrawny scabrous and anemic tree. In fact it was sick. It felt pretty good for the first 40 years of its sickly life but after 40 It had a
tired sack. And the other trees used to make fun of it. Asked for dinner and the poor little tree just whimpered and saw and cry. But one day when the other trees made fun of it. Next. The little tree spoke up. It was a dogwood tree you see it said. You may laugh at me now You great big giant cedars and sequoias you. But one day I'll be the most important hunk of what this side of Amarillo Texas saw there. But the other trees just laughed at him some more and the little tree got sadder than ever. Louis was.
Going to one day his fortunes change for three trombone players that got him banned. Hey we look toward. The end. Well these three trombone players sat down by the little tree to eat their picnic lunch. And sure enough they got to talking about their own conductor. A fellow named Shorty from Montana who not only stood five feet one in his stocking feet but was also short handed. He's too short to be a conductor. One of the trombone players said I can't see him for sour apples sour apples being the name of the fat fellow on saxophone who sat right in front of him. Me too said another. He always looks like he's standing in a hole. Well they thought and thought and finally the third trombonist who was a real thinker had a brilliant idea.
And why doesn't he stand on a box. Well they agreed on that all right. And then the first trombone player said even if he does stand on a box his arms are so short we have to buy him a set of Adler's elevated elbows to see his downbeat. They were in a quandary or as one of them expressed it. We are in a quandary. So they thought some more. And the little tree during their conversation bent down and whispered in their ears and I beg your pardon. One of the trombone players said to the little tree would you mind speaking up a little. I'm a little hard of hearing and what the little tree was saying was that he would volunteer his services if it would help out any right little tree.
Right and so quick as a wink. Bad boys chop the little tree down. And quickly as a weekly again they built the little tree into a podium. Not only that but they had enough left over to make about Tom. But what they didn't know was that the little tree was a magic tree and so the box became a pedestal and the baton was transformed into a magic wand to make music. And so now when the conductor steps on the road
and raises his fee 80 000 and he can play fast music. Or he can play slow music. He can play waltzes. Or you can even play a hoedown for the man with the stick in his hand. And no in conclusion I would like to read a little poem. May I have some
mood music maestro. A man on the podium and acts like it was only you and me is the man or he's your divine might as I know you were right. When he first put the stick in his hand with his demeanor on the floor and his eyes on the store with a zest and a vigor and despite his stripes on life coming only when mortars. Here's to our friends everlastingly for a long
ride home weakening one number without naming her you know. So here's to never a conductor. Strong hearted and oh so brave. And speaking for all the composers. Long may they way they are. Dr. John Sargent was the narrator of Kenneth snap center lock in performance of downbeat a fable for narrator and band written by your host and commentator of the series. Don Gillis and its performance brings to an end another concert produced and recorded for the national educational radio network by Riverdale productions with John Corbett as your technical supervisor. Earlier we heard recipe for rhythm an encore waltz waltz the third movement of the first symphony for a band in the brief time left to us on this broadcast I'd like to talk just a little bit more about the
band. I think that the sheer joy of writing for a band lies in combination of bands with other elements not only on solo material as I did in my concerto for organ in band which we have here on our later broadcast but with chorus and soloist such as in this is our America or in Pepper out by the opera which I composed in 1056 using a band instead of an orchestra. The facility of the band it's unusual coloration its technical achievements and its almost unlimited flexibility makes it a masterful voice to speak the composer's best thoughts. Forte can play higher and lower or louder and softer and in the hands of a skilled and talented conductor. And a sensitivity equal to that of the orchestra. Divided by store for young composers or conductors I'd say get yourself a band. Or if it's music you want to make. The band is here ready and willing to make it for you. I hope you're back with us next week for on that program will be altering to symphonic poems.
The first of which is the Alamo and the second Tulsa. Until then this is done goes so long. This is the national educational radio network.
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The music of Don Gillis
Compositions for bands
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on Don Gillis' compositions for bands.
Series Description
This series features the works of Don Gillis; hosted by the composer himself. Most of the performances are conducted by the composer.
Broadcast Date
Media type
Composer: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
Host: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 64-24-3 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:26
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Chicago: “The music of Don Gillis; Compositions for bands,” 1964-06-26, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2024,
MLA: “The music of Don Gillis; Compositions for bands.” 1964-06-26. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2024. <>.
APA: The music of Don Gillis; Compositions for bands. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from