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Frederick Fennell

The growing number of serious compositions for wind ensemble, and the large number of institutionalized ensembles to play them, are in large part due to the efforts of Frederick Fennell. Though his career took him to the orchestral podiums of Cleveland, Boston, Miami, and elsewhere, his notoriety as a conductor of music for winds, his prolific recorded output, and his role as the founder of the Eastman Wind Ensemble that perhaps most strongly denote his career.

Fennell was born in Cleveland in 1914. After high school, he entered the Eastman School of Music, pursuing a degree in percussion performance from the only institution in the country to offer one at that time. Fennell became a fixture at Eastman, going on to receive a master's degree in 1939, and being hired in that same year to conduct several instrumental ensembles; he remained at Eastman until 1965.

His ideas first took shape in 1951, when under his baton a group of woodwind, brass, and percussion players staged a concert featuring several works from composers as wide-ranging as Adrian Willaert, Orlando di Lasso, Giovanni Gabrieli, Mozart, and Beethoven. Fennell not only resurrected "lost" works, but gave due attention to new ones: Stravinsky was represented, as was the American composer Carl Ruggles. "This program," wrote Fennell, "argues strongly against the old complaint leveled against wind instruments that there is no music written for them which is of sufficient interest to make anyone care to hear it performed." And thus the Eastman Wind Ensemble was born.

The growth of wind ensembles and wind music was also aided by Fennell's and the Eastman Wind Ensemble's impressive output of recordings. Raoul Camus, documenting Fennell's career for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, observed that "Fennell's pioneering series of 24 recordings for Mercury brought about a reconsideration of the wind medium and established performance and literature models for the more than 20,000 wind ensembles that were subsequently established in American schools."

Fennell's innovations appear in retrospect to be part of a larger effort in the mid-20th century to establish a distinctive American musical sound and identity. It was during Fennell's years at Eastman that his colleague Howard Hanson established an annual symposium to foster new American music for orchestra -- a project that inspired a similar effort on Fennell's part, to elicit works for winds from American composers. Fennell definitely saw his wind ensemble project as a patriotic contribution to Western culture. "Granting the rich inheritance with which the American music heritage began [that is, the inheritance of the European musical tradition], it is not surprising that we finally have emerged as a people worthy of that legacy." In creating an ensemble that could variously serve an educational function, execute original and transcribed works from the Western canon, and foster the creation of new works (and, as evidenced by the widely ranging styles within subsequent wind repertories, entirely new sonorities), Fennell helped define the character of American music, and the role of music in American society.
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Not Sousa, Vol. 2

Composer: Richard Thiele
Title: Unsere Marine, March For Military Band
Composer: Patrick S. Gilmore
Title: When Johnny Comes Marching Home, March Song
Composer: Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle
Title: La Marseillaise (National Anthem, France)
Composer: William H. Woodin
Title: Franklin Delano Roosevelt March
Composer: Charles Ives
Title: March: The Circus Band (I), For Orchestra Or Band, S. 33/1 (K. 1C8)
Composer: Hector Berlioz
Title: Marche De Rákóczy (Rákóczy March), For Orchestra (Le Damnation De Faust), H. 109
Composer: Ludwig van Beethoven
Title: March For Wind Ensemble In F Major, ("Für Die Böhmische Landwehr"), WoO 18
Title: March For Piano, 4 Hands In D Major, Op. 45/3
Composer: Percy Grainger
Title: Children's March (Over The Hills And Far Away), Folk Song For Piano & Military Band (RMTB 4)
Composer: Charles Ives
Title: Old Home Days (5), Suite For Band (arranged By Jonathan Elkus)
Composer: Aaron Copland
Title: The Red Pony, Suite For Orchestra
Composer: Richard Rodgers
Title: Victory At Sea, Film Score
Composer: Kenneth J. Alford
Title: Colonel Bogey March For Orchestra/band
Composer: Edwin Franko Goldman
Title: Jubilee, March For Band
Composer: Gustav Holst
Title: Suite No. 1, For Military Band In E Flat Major, Op. 28/1, H. 105
Composer: Robert G. Morse
Title: Up The Street March, For Band
Composer: American Traditional
Title: The Marine Corps Hymn
x

Track List: Fennell Conducts Sousa [Hybrid SACD]

1. Sound Off!, March For Band: Sound Off

2. Nobles Of The Mystic Shrine, March For Band: The Nobles Of The Mystic Shrine

3. Saber And Spurs, March For Band: Sabre And Spurs

4. The Picador, March For Band: The Picador

6. The High School Cadets, March For Band: The High School Cadets

7. The Invincible Eagle, March For Band: The Invincible Eagle

8. Bullets And Bayonets, March For Band: Bullets And Bayonets

9. The Liberty Bell, March For Band: The Liberty Bell

10. Riders For The Flag, March For Band: Riders For The Flag

11. Solid Men To The Front!, March For Band: Solid Men To The Front

12. The Gallant Seventh, March For Band: The Gallant Seventh

x

Track List: Fennell Conducts Grainger, Persichetti, & Others

Composer: Percy Grainger
Title: Lincolnshire Posy, Folk Song Suite For Wind Band (BFMS 34)
Title: Hill Song No. 2, For 23 Or 24 Wind Instruments Or Band
Composer: Vincent Persichetti
Title: Symphony No. 6 ("For Band"), Op. 69
Composer: Aram Khachaturian
Title: Pieces (2) On Themes From Armenian Folk Songs, For Wind Orchestra
Composer: Walter S. Hartley
Title: Concerto For 23 Wind Instruments
Composer: Bernard Rogers
Title: Japanese Dances (3) For Orchestra, Nos 1-03 (complete)
x

Track List: Stars & Stripes: Fanfares, Marches & Wind Band Spectaculars

Composer: Samuel Barber
Title: Commando March, For Band
Composer: Pierre Leemans
Title: Belgian Paratroopers For Orchestra
Composer: Julius Fucik
Title: Florentiner-marsch For Orchestra, Op 214
Composer: Karl L. King
Title: Barnum And Bailey's Favorite, March For Orchestra (or Band)
Composer: Charles A. Zimmerman
Title: Anchors Aweigh (Official Song Of The U.S. Navy)
Composer: Johann Strauss I
Title: Radetzky-marsch, For Orchestra, Op. 228
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Title: Sea Songs, march for military or brass band
Composer: John Philip Sousa
Title: The Stars And Stripes Forever, March For Band
Composer: Ralph Vaughan Williams
Title: English Folk Song Suite, For Military Band
Composer: Percy Grainger
Title: Lincolnshire Posy, Folk Song Suite For Wind Band (BFMS 34)
Title: Shepherd's Hey!, Folk Song For Military Band (BFMS 21)
x

Track List: Trittico

Composer: Václav Nelhybel
Title: Trittico For Wind Band

1. Trittico For Wind Band: I. Allegro Maestoso

2. Trittico For Wind Band: II. Adagio

3. Trittico For Wind Band: III. Allegro Marcato

Composer: Isaac Albéniz
Title: Iberia Suite, For Orchestra (orchestrated By Arbos From "Iberia" For Piano)

4. Iberia Suite, For Orchestra (orchestrated By Arbos From "Iberia" For Piano): Feast Day In Seville

Composer: Norman Dello Joio
Title: Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band

5. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: I. Introduction

6. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: II. Variation 1

7. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: III. Variation 2

8. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: IV. Variation 3

9. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: V. Variation 4

10. Variants On A Mediaeval Tune, For Band: VI. Variation 5

Composer: Edvard Grieg
Title: Sørgemarsj Over Rikard Nordraak (Funeral March In Memory Of Rikard Nordraak), For Piano (or Winds) In A Minor, EG 107

11. Sørgemarsj Over Rikard Nordraak (Funeral March In Memory Of Rikard Nordraak), For Piano (or Winds) In A Minor, EG 107: Funeral March For Rikard Nordraak

Composer: Vittorio Giannini
Title: Symphony No. 3 For Winds

12. Symphony No. 3 For Winds: I. Allegro Energico

13. Symphony No. 3 For Winds: II. Adagio

14. Symphony No. 3 For Winds: III. Allegretto

15. Symphony No. 3 For Winds: IV. Allegro Con Brio

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