Thursday, December 2, 2010

Book Review: The 20th Century American Wind Band/Ensemble

The 20th Century American Wind Band/Ensemble: History, Development, and Literature - by Frank Battisti Published by Meredith Music, First Edition 1995. (Does anyone know if there's a new edition?)

About a week ago I finished a text about the History, Development, and Literature of the 20th Century American Wind Band. Dr. Booth recommended it to me as we started a "History of Wind Band and Literature" class during my first quarter of graduate studies.

Out of the books, I have started reading for coursework this has been the most interesting. I have found facts and figures, but this book really seems to explore how serious works for the wind ensemble came to be after 1900. It was published in 1994 so it doesn't deal with out current new works, but the bulk of literature I really enjoy so far comes from this period. The development of our medium is still so young when you compare us with the orchestra. I wonder where the wind ensemble is headed...

The book includes an easy to read format outlining periods in development by year. It's broken down by 1900-1959(The Early Years), 1960-1974(Changes and Growth), 1975-1989(Expansion and New Connections), 1990-1994(Two Different Worlds and Exposures), which leads up to the publication of the book. The last half of the book tackles the topics of; Commissioning, Contemporary Wind Band, Repertoire Establishment and Program Planning, School Band Repertoire, and Challenges.

The Appendices have helpful lists and information on the chronology of literature, recommended literature for HS Wind Bands, Instrumentations of ensembles 1952-1994, recommended reading(which I will be checking out), and the bibliography. There's also an index that can quickly help you find information within the book about certain pieces, composers, and compositions.

The author, Frank Battisti, has served as the Director of Wind Ensemble Activities at the New England Conservatory. He is also a past President of the College Band Directors National Association(CBDNA) and found of the National Wind Ensemble Conference, World Association of Symphonic Bands and Ensembles(WASBE), and the Massachusetts Youth Wind Ensemble. He's active guest conductor, clinician, and contributor to professional journals and is considered one of the foremost authorities on wind literature.

Before reading this book he was just a name of another conductor and college professor that I'd seen on a program or in a book somewhere. This might make me seem naive, but aren't we all? Isn't the point of further to study to teach us what we don't know, not pat us on the back for what we do? I'm really enjoying discovering things like this through my studies.

That's probably why I'm spending so much of my break in the Dunbar Library. Here's to learning!

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