On today's date in 1959, the Duke University Band, under its conductor Paul Bryan, gave the official premiere performance of a new work they had commissioned: the Symphony No. 3 for concert band by the American composer, Vittorio Giannini, a noted composer of vocal music including songs and operas.
With the growth of concert bands in the 1950's, and success of high-profile performing ensembles like Frederick Fennell's Eastman Wind Ensemble, composers like Giannini started getting commissions to write new works for these groups to play. In all, Giannini wrote five pieces for concert band, with his Symphony No. 3 the biggest and best known of the lot.
Paul Bryan and Duke University were certainly pleased with the new work. Its resounding success encouraged other band directors to continue persuading prominent composers to create serious works for wind band–and, in one fell swoop, the Duke Band achieved national recognition for its initiative.
As for Giannini, in his later years he turned to teaching a younger generation of composers, first in New York City at Juilliard and the Manhattan School of Music, then in Philadelphia at the Curtis Institute, and finally at the North Carolina School of the Arts, where he served as that institution's first president. Giannini students included a number of successful composers, including David Amram, John Corigliano, Nicolas Flagello, Adolphus Hailstork, and Alfred Reed.
Music Played in Today's Program
Vittorio Giannini (1903 - 1966)Symphony No. 3University of Houston Wind Ensemble; Tom Bennett, cond.Naxos 8.570130