Famed BU Music Graduate Alfred Reed Dies

Sept. 19, 2005
News Photo 3131Alfred Reed

Alfred Reed, a Baylor University music graduate who gained fame around the world for his compositions and arrangements for band, died Sept. 17, at the age of 84.

With more than 200 published works for concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chorus and chamber ensemble to his name, Reed was one of America's most prolific and frequently performed composers. Notable among his concert band works are Russian Christmas Music, Armenian Dances and El Camino Real.

"Virtually every young musician in America has played or sung Alfred Reed's music," said Dr. William May, Dean of the Baylor University School of Music. "Over the years, Dr. Reed honored the Baylor School of Music by frequent visits and guest conducting stints. Our students, faculty, and alumni will miss this musical giant greatly."

Reed was born in New York City on Jan. 25, 1921, to Carl and Elizabeth Friedman, who had emigrated from Vienna to the United States before World War I. He began his formal music training at the age of 10. As a teenager, he played with small hotel combos in the Catskill Mountains. His interests shifted from performing to arranging and composition. In 1938, he started working in the Radio Workshop in New York as a staff composer/arranger and assistant conductor.

During World War II, Reed served in the 529th Army Air Force Band. Following his military service, he attended the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied under Vittorio Giannini. His professional career began as a staff composer and arranger, first for NBC and then for ABC. In 1953, he became the conductor of the Symphony Orchestra at Baylor, where he received his bachelor of music degree in 1955 and his master of music degree in 1956. His master's thesis, "Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra," was awarded the Luria Prize in 1959.

From 1955-66, Reed was the executive editor of Hansen Publications, a music publisher. He served as professor of music at the University of Miami from 1966-93, and at the time of his retirement, was also chairman of the department of music media and industry and director of the music industry program. He also traveled extensively as a guest conductor, performing in North America, Latin America, Europe and Asia.

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