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Don and Barbara Gillis Collection, 1932-1977 | Music Library

By Maristella Feustle

Collection Overview

Title: Don and Barbara Gillis Collection, 1932-1977Add to your cart.
ID: 06/002
Primary Creator: Gillis, Don (1912-1978)
Extent: 249.0 Boxes
Arrangement: Organized into four series: (1) Compositions; (2) Papers; (3) Reel-to-reel recordings; and (4) Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend; The Centennial Series.
Subjects: Gillis, Don, 1912-1978, NBC Symphony Orchestra, Symphony of the Air, Toscanini, Arturo, 1867-1957
Languages: English

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Scope and Contents of the Materials

The collection consists of Don Gillis' compositions and papers, reel-to-reel recordings of many of his compositions and Gillis' discussing his works, and materials related to the series Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend, which Gillis produced. Gillis' wife Barbara oversaw the donation of this collection, and was a lifelong advocate of Mr.Gillis' work.

Gillis' compositions represent his career from the early 1930s through the 1970s, and include sacred, secular, symphonic, and chamber works. His papers include correspondence, papers related to various projects, schedules, reviews, radio scripts, and the Men of Music radio project, teaching materials, writings, additional papers concerning his work, biographical materials, and newspaper clippings.

The reel-to-reel recordings, 50 in all, contain recordings of Gillis' works and Gillis' own description of them. Transcripts are included in Series 3 of the finding aid.

The recordings of Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend and The Centennial Series span the years 1963 through 1967, and with few exceptions, each broadcast is linked individually and available for listening through the UNT Digital Library.

Biographical Note

Born in Cameron, Missouri on June 17, 1912, Don Gillis moved with his family to Texas in 1930. He went on to have some impact on nearly every institution of higher education in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, as well as the University of South Carolina. Gillis studied composition with Don Mixson at Texas Christian University, and then worked as a band director at TCU, a Director of Productions at the WBAP radio station in Fort Worth, a producer for NBC Radio in Chicago, and a producer and script writer for the NBC Symphony Orchestra in New York City, under the direction of Arturo Toscanini.

After the NBC Symphony was disbanded, Gillis played a major role in reconstituting the orchestra as the Symphony of the Air, which participated in a State Department-sponsored tour of Asia. Gillis later served as the vice president of the Interlochen Music Camp in Michigan, and produced the series Toscanini: The Man Behind the Legend for NBC Radio.

Gillis returned to Texas and served as chair of the music department of Southern Methodist University in 1967-68, and as the chair of the arts department and director of instructional media at Dallas Baptist College from 1968 until 1973. In 1973, Gillis took the position of Chair of the Institute of Media Arts at the University of South Carolina, where he remained until his death in 1978.

For a more detailed biography, please visit the article "UNT Music Library Celebrates Don Gillis Centennial."

Subject/Index Terms

Administrative Information

Repository: Music Library
Accruals: Nine boxes received from the University of Georgia on July 13, 2016.
Access Restrictions: Access to this collection is provided only by special arrangement. Please contact the Music Library for more information.
Use Restrictions: Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Music Library. Copyright restrictions may apply.
Physical Access Note: Collection is housed in the UNT Music Library. Advance notice for use is required. Please contact the Music Library for further information.
Acquisition Source: Do​nated to the University of North Texas Music Library by Barbara Gillis after her husband's death in 1978.
Finding Aid Revision History: The current finding aid is an adaptation and re-working of an earlier version of the UNT Libraries' website. Organization and description of the collection has required the dedicated participation of many alumni and former graduate assistants, including Cynthia Beard, Ludwig Carrasco-Curíntzita, and Anna Perkins-Griner.

Box and Folder Listing

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Series 3: Reels and Tape TranscriptsAdd to your cart.
 
Sub-Series 1: Reels 1 - 10Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: Gillis on GillisAdd to your cart.
This tape contains a brief commentary on Gillis music and philosophy with many musical examples quoted to give the listener a variety of experiences which illustrate a number of compositional attitudes and styles.  For anyone intending to make a thorough study of Gillis scores, this is a very good place to start.  The narration is done by the composer.
Item 2: Symphony No. 5 1/2; Toscanini: Portrait of a LegendAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Symphony 5 1/2: "I am often asked the question: "Why the fraction -- why 5 1/2 instead of six?

"The explanation is simple, actually.  When I was writing my sixth symphony, I wrote what I felt to be an appropriate finale, but after I finished it I felt it didn't fit at all.  I tried another one and the same thing happened.  Neither the mood nor the attitude of these movements seemed to relate to Symphony No. 6 at all.  These two movements I had written, however, intrigued, me -- and so I decided to go ahead and finish writing a new symphony, altogether different from the mood I had established in No. 6.  I wrote a scherzo and a slow movement and thus completed the new work.  Having already three movements of the 6th symphony finished, I didn't want to disturb their numbering system and so it just seemed natural to call the new one 5 1/2, especially since it had been written half way in between five and six.

"It was a good decision, for its title caught the eye of Maestro Toscanini and the music on the tape you will hear is his performance by the NBC Orchestra.

"Arthur Fiedler gave its premiere with the Boston "Pops" in the summer of 1947 and after revision, Toscanini conducted its radio premiere.  The work is also published by Boosey-Hawkes in a band transcription made by Maurice Ford.  It was recorded for London Records by the New Symphony of London under the baton of the composer.  It has been choreographed by a number of dance companies and, along with 'Tulsa,' 'The Man Who Invented Music,' 'January February March,' and 'Short Overture to an Unwritten Opera,' it is my most frequently performed work."

Gillis on Toscanini: Portait of a Legend: "This composition was written to be a personal tribute to Arturo Toscanini with whom I served ten years as producer of the NBC Symphony Broadcasts and about whom I wrote and produced the series 'The Man Behind the Legend' for four-and-a-half years for NBC Radio.

"The script was written early in 1967 and the music was completed during the following summer.  It was first performed at the Reston (Virginia) Music Camp by Dr. James Christian Pfohl with the composer as narrator. "In this performance, Col. Arnald Gabriel Conducts the U.S. Airforce Symphony Orchestra with the voice of the noted NBC commentator Ben Grauer.  Interestingly enough, Col. Gabriel recorded only the orchestral section in Washington, Grauer recorded the voice section in NY, and the production was mixed in Dallas.  It has been given public performance on several occasions and broadcast twice during the Toscanini Centennial Memorial Series."

Item 3: The Man Who Invented Music; Symphony No. 8 (A Dance Symphony)Add to your cart.

Gillis on The Man Who Invented Music: "In the summers of 1949-50, United States Steel sponsored the NBC Symphony broadcasts.  As one of the features of their program, they included a "Children's Corner," during which time-related music was selected.  I was asked to provide a work for children and so submitted the script for 'The Man Who Invented Music.'  After some revision in collaboration with NBC scriptwriter Claris Ross, the music was completed and had its first performance with Nelson Olmsted as narrator with the NBC Symphony conducted  by Antal Dorati. "The music was an instant success and has been performed thousands of times in both its orchestral and band versions.  The recording you will hear was done in London with narrator Jack Kilty under the baton of the composer." 

Gillis on Symphony No. 8, "A Dance Symphony" (I. Jukebox Jive; II. Deep Blues; III. Waltz of Sorts; IV. Lowdown Hoedown) "Immediately after Milton Katims premiered this work with the NBC Symphony, my son, Don, Jr., rushed backstage to say 'Gee, Dad, that was the loudest one yet!'

"Also backstage was Arturo Toscanini, who described the work as a 'big brother to Symphony 5 1/2.'  Somewhere in between those two instant reactions there if probably a valid conclusion to be drawn indicating that (a) the symphony is rambunctionously [sic] loud, and (b) that it is in the tradition of "fun music" following the pattern set by Symphony 5 1/2.

"It is a 'dance' symphony in every sense of the word.  It has been danced to by a number of dance companies and, if you feel like it personally, you may dance to it while listening.  If you are wearing headphone at the time, however, be careful not to spin around too much -- otherwise you just might get a hang-up about the whole thing. "For those of you interested in orchestration, I commend this work to you for analysis.

"Symphony No. 8 did not become the popular item I hoped it would be.  It just may have been the fact that the 'symphony' sound was replaced in the first movement by that of a giant jazz ensemble.  At any rate, except for broadcast recorded performances, its use by dance companies, and a few performances publicly, it has remained relatively unknown.

"I remember one performance, however, which reaffirmed my own faith in its merits.  We did a joint concert in Carnegie Hall with Duke Ellington in 1955 called 'Excursions in Jazz.'  The Duke liked it as earlier Maestro Toscanini had liked it.  Their opinions are good enough for me. "Plus, of course, that of my son's who said: 'It is the loudest one yet.'

"One should (especially in academic circles) look at a symphony with more seriousness.  I conclude by saying that its form is exceedingly correct, its themes are interestingly valid, and its orchestration is subtle and provocative.  As for its future -- well, I still think some conductor ids going to coma long some day and see that it's a great audience piece and well worth programming.  In the meanwhile, at least we have it in the this tape recorded by the NBC symphony men under the composer's baton for Rexford Records in New York City."

Item 4: The Star-Spangled SymphonyAdd to your cart.

Movements: I. Production Line; II. Bobby Sox; III. Prayer and Hymn for a Solemn Occasion; IV. Celebration -- 4th of July

Gillis: "For years I carried a clipping of a review by a man named White who wrote of Arthur Fiedler's premiere of the Star Spangled Symphony by the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra.  Mr. White (who in musical matters reflected the now-famous 'white supremacy' attitude of all critics) found very little to commend about this work.  As a matter of fact, it was not until after invecting himself exhaustively against it that he mentioned that the audience gave it a standing ovation which continued so enthusiastically that Mr. Fiedler repeated the final movement as an encore.

"I would have premiered the work myself with the NBC Symphony Orchestra had not the network had a curious policy (long since abandoned) that the Star Spangled Banner must always be played in completion over network air.  And since I had used fragmental quotes from the anthem in the first movement, it was not permitted to be used for broadcast.

"The symphony, much like the fate of the 8th, has not been widely performed.  I'm not sure why.  It may be because of the difficulty in the first and final movements, or -- and I say this reluctantly -- it just may not be any good. "In the performance you are to hear, the composer is conducting the National High School Orchestra of Interlochen."

Item 5: Concerto No. II for Piano and OrchestraAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "The Second Piano Concerto is dedicated to Deems Taylor and was written in New York City in 1965.  Its first movement is lyrical, the second in a waltz-ballade style, and the finale is a rowdy galop (interrupted in contrasting mood with a sensuous tango).

"It is heard in this performance by the Grand Prairie, Texas, Community Orchestra with the composer conducting.  Joseph Kahn, the soloist, was for many years pianist for the NBC Symphony and made solo appearances on the Bell Telephone Hour as well as being a member of the orchestra of the 'Chamber Music Society of Lower Basin Street.' "The work is available on rental through Crescendo Music Service of Dallas."

Item 6: Alice in Orchestralia; The RavenAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Alice in Orchestralia: "On the second season of sponsorship by United States Steel of the NBC Symphony, I was once again asked to write a work for the 'Children's Corner' portion of the broadcast, the request stemming from the success the previous year of 'The Man Who Invented Music.' "This work was written, using a script prepared by Dr. Ernest LaPrade, author of the book 'Alice in Orchestralia,' which had been used so successfully by music educators in the primary grades.  A radio series had also been produced using the book as basis. "Wilfred Peletier conducted the first performance, played by the NBC Symphony during the summer of 1950. "The story is a fantasy in which a different Alice (not the one in Wonderland) goes to a symphony concert and falls into a dream-filled sleep, during which she visits the musical land of "Orchestralia."  There she meets the strings in 'Fiddle-a-delphia,' the woodwinds in 'Panapolis,' and the other instruments in 'Brassydale.' The tape you will hear was recorded for Rexford Records in Rome using a cast headed by NBC narrator, Gene Hamilton.  The composer is conducting.

Gillis on The Raven: "A very long time ago (in 1937 to be exact), Nelson Olmsted (now distinguished actor and story teller) was a staff announcer at radio station WBAP in Forth Worth.  At this same time I was a member of the studio orchestra and the staff arranger.  When he asked me to prepare a score as background for his reading of Poe's 'The Raven,' I accepted and the work was premiered by Gene Baugh and the WBAP Staff Orchestra on Poe's birthday.  I later revised the score for full orchestra and it had its first performance by Dr. Frank Black on a series called 'New American Music,' for which future colleagues of mine, Samuel Chotzinoff and Ben Grauer, were co-hosts.

"The work has had innumerable performances.  The taped performance you will hear was recorded at a broadcast by the NBC Orchestra in Chicago with Nelson Olmsted as narrator and Dr. Leroy Shields conducting."

Item 7: Symphony No. 5 (In Memoriam)Add to your cart.

Gillis: "During World War II, three members of the TCU band were killed in action, all three of them flute players, all three of them pilots, and all three section partners in the band.  It is to their memory that this work is dedicated.

"The work was written in 1945 and given its first performance by the NBC Symphony Orchestra with Dr. Frank Black conducting.  It is this performance that you will hear on this tape."

Item 8: Symphony No. 6 (The Pioneers)Add to your cart.

Gillis: "Although Symphony No. 6 is sub-titled "The Pioneers," it is not a programmatic work in the sense of telling a story.  It does, however, reflect my own mind's portrait of an earlier America during a time of moving westward, or exploring and settling the land, and of adventuresome people looking for a new freedom.

"There are four movements, the first and third movements contemplative, the second and final energetic forces. "The work had its premiere at Texas Christian University at a concert of my music in 1948.  The performance you are to hear now is by the National High School Orchestra at Interlochen, the composer conducting."

Item 9: Symphony No. 7 (Saga of a Prairie School)Add to your cart.

Movements: I. The Vision; II. The People; The Dedication; The Fulfillment

Gillis: "In 1948 I was commissioned by Texas Christian University to write a work commemorating the 75th anniversary of the founding of the school.  I wrote the music in four sections (to be played without pause) and it had its premiere at Will Rogers Auditorium on June 6, 1948 with Dr. T. Smith McCorkle, Dean of Fine Arts at TCU, conducting. "The performance on this tape is taken from the London Records production by the New Symphony Orchestra of London with the composer conducting in Kingsway Hall, London. "It was on this date that TCU, as part of their commencement exercises, conferred the degree of Doctor of Music in recognition of the creation of the symphony. The work is on rental from Chappell, Inc., New York City."

Item 10: Peter Rabbit:  A Tale for Children; Atlanta: Five Choreographic Impressions of a Southern CityAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Peter Rabbit: "Among the many scores I have written for narrator and orchestra have been several done especially for children.  These include some scripts by John Rust based on the Thorton W. Burgess nature stories.  These stories were once familiar items in syndicated newspaper columns as well as in a children's book series.

"In this treatment, Mr. Rust is the narrator and the composer is conducting a small orchestra, the recording made for a children's series by London Records.

Gillis on Atlanta (I. Our Fair City; II. Stone Mountain; III. Piedmont Park; IV. Plantation Song; V. Peachtree Promenade): "This suite of five movements was commissioned by the Atlanta Music Clubs for performance by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Dr. Henry Sopkin.  It is a series of tone pictures depicting the areas suggested by the titles.  After its premiere, I recorded it in Rome for Rexford Records, conducted three movements of it on an NBC Symphony broadcast, and re-scored it for band.  Mills Music (now Belwin-Mills) published the work. "The term 'choreographic impression' was used descriptively in the title because I visualized its ultimate fulfillment as danced in front of huge rear-projection screens with kaleidoscopic interpretations in motion picture, slides, and special effects light patterns.  "The tape you will hear was done in Rome with the Orchestra da Camera conducted the composer."

Sub-Series 2: Reels 11 - 20Add to your cart.
 
Item 11: Seven Golden Texts; Quintet No. III for WoodwindsAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Seven Golden Texts: "Dr. George Reynolds, director of the Dickinson, North Dakota band of Dickinson College, commissioned a work for band, chorus, and narrator of a 'religious nature.'  "The full title of the work which emerged was "Seven Golden Texts and a Song of Praise from the Psalms of David."  The work is also scored for orchestra and the two orchestrations combine for use with huge festival-type presentations.  The first performance was given in Dickinson, North Dakota in 1965 and this tape represents its premiere playing."

Gillis on Quintet No. III for Woodwinds (I. Five Piece Combo; II. Take Five Blues; III. A Frolic in B-bop Minor): "This quintet is, as its titles indicate, an excursion in jazz for instruments whose usual combination in quintet formation is that of serious, classical demeanor.  Not so in this work!  Here they enjoy three sessions of fun in an altogether unusual medium.

"The performance you are to hear was done by the Woodwind Quintet of the Interlochen Arts Academy under the supervision of Don Jaeger.  The work is published by Belwin-Mills, N.Y."

Item 12: This Is Our America; His Name Was John; Quintet No. I for WoodwindsAdd to your cart.

Gillis on This Is Our America: "The morning after Pearl Harbor, December 8, 1941, I wrote the substance of this work.  Melvin Dacus, then a student, sang its first performance at chapel at TCU on December 10, 1941.  After a few performances, the piece was put aside and not until the mid-fifties was it thought of again.  Asked by Rexford Records to do a patriot cantata (their request supported by Mills Music), I composed the work in its present form, utilizing many of the materials I had originally written in 1941. "It was recorded by Rexford Records and later re-scored for band.  Col. Samuel R. Loboda, conductor of the U.S. Army Band, recorded this version with Capt. Allen Crowell as the soloist."

Gillis on His Name was John: "In this illy-balanced [sic] recording taken from a performance at Dallas Baptist College, Nelson Olmsted narrates the words written by the composer about the last moments in the life of John the Baptist."

Gillis on Quintet No. I for Woodwinds: "This work is sub-titled 'The Tortoise and the Hare,' with its three movements depicting the age-old fable of the big race. "The work is published by Belwin-Mills and is performed on this tape by the Interlochen Arts Academy Woodwind Quintet."

Item 13: Six Fairy Tales: I - VAdd to your cart.
Movements: I. Rumplestilskin; II. Snow White; III. The Sleeping Beauty; IV. The Three Bears; V. Cinderella Gillis: "Script and music for these fairytales was done in 1966 as a project for Storykin Dolls.  As a project it was not wildly successful; however, these six fairy tales (plus one other which has not yet been recorded) are among the 'sometime-to-be-done' orchestrations which the composer plans to do for full orchestra.  The sixth fairy tale not included on this tape will be found on Reel Number 14, band 1."
Item 14: Six Fairy Tales: VI; The Amon G. Carter March; The Panhandle SuiteAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Six Fairy Tales (VI): "This is the sixth fairytale in the children's series described in the program notes in Reel 13.

Gillis on The Amon G. Carter March: "During my days as TCU Band Director, Amon G. Carter, publisher of the Fort Worth Star Telegram, was one of the band's most ardent supporters.  He liked to direct the band and we liked to have him direct the band -- because almost always afterwards he would pull out a hundred dollar bill and we would split it up among the members.  So it naturally followed that I would write a march with his name on it which he conducted from there on out.  Other than that bit of fascinating information, I can think of nothing else to say about the march that that it now reposes in the Library of Congress among a hundred or so other manuscripts of mine."

Gillis on The Panhandle Suite (I. Cattle Gate; II. Dance of the Dry Bones; III. Night Rider; IV. Bronc Bust; V. Stampede): "The tape you are about to hear was recorded several years ago while I was band director at Texas Christian.  While I am not exactly sure of the date, I think the broadcast took place in 1937 or 1938.  Nelson Olmsted was announcer for this WBAP 'Backstage with the TCU Band' series. The work was originally written for orchestra and completed during by senior year in college in 1935, forming part of the requirements for my Bachelor of Music recital.  It was later scored for band and heard in this version in band format. "The tape you are to hear is filled with clicks and electrostatic pops, largely because it was dubbed from the original acetate transcription made at the time of the broadcast.  However, as befits a tape of this vintage, it is now in that category of sound sometimes called by sonic aficionados as 'heritage.' "Listen carefully, and somewhere in between the static you may hear 'The Panhandle Suite.'"

Item 15: Intermission -- Ten Minutes; To An Unknown Soldier; Portrait of a Frontier TownAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Intermission -- Ten Minutes: "This work, written in 1943, was premiered by North Texas State University's Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Dr. Floyd Graham.  The work is dedicated to a long-time friend of mine from TCU days, Dr. Patrick Henry.  It was the composer's notion that since all concerts have ten minute intermissions, it would be logical to write some music describing that portion of a concert in which there is no music at all. "The piece begins as if the first half of a concert were just ending in "Classical" style, following which we \hear first the rustle of the audience as it prepares to 'intermish' and then the parade to the lobby.  This is followed by the Dance of the Self-Appointed Critics and then the martial music parades the audience back to their seats again.  The orchestra tunes up, a fanfare announces the return of the conductor, and then the second half of the concert resumes as if a contemporary work were beginning.  And -- it finishes with a surprise ending. "This performance is by the University of Texas Symphony Orchestra in 1967, Andor Toth conducting."

Gillis on To an Unknown Soldier" "This symphonic poem is programmatic, yet not descriptively so.  It was written as a personal reflection upon the universal heroism wasted in causes as useless as war.  It is not, however, as much a protest as it is a proclamation of grief spoken in behalf of all who give their lives in battle. "The work is somber, but there are moments which say what might have been for unknown soldiers had they not fallen."

Gillis on Portrait of a Frontier Town (I. Chamber of Commerce; II. Where the West Begins; III. Ranch House Party; IV. Prairie Sunset; V. Main Street -- Saturday Night): "Would you believe that this suite was once named 'Cowtown?'  Well, it was, but Boosey-Hawkes (who publishes it) felt that a more dignified title that Fort Worth's nick-name 'Cowtown.' So it was changed, even after Milton Katims and the NBC Symphony had given its premiere under the 'Cowtown' title.

"One movement in particular has caught on, as it were, having been used for 'encore' materials by a number of symphony conductors, including Arthur Fiedler and Thor Johnson.  It has been made into a ballet by the Winnepeg Ballet under the title 'Les Whoops de Doo' and has had many successful playings in its band arrangement (done by Glen Cliff Bainum). In the recording you are to hear, the New Symphony Orchestra of London is playing under the baton of the composer."

Item 16: Abe Lincoln -- Gettysburg, 1863; Men of Music; Downbeat -- A Fable for BandAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Abe Lincoln -- Gettysburg, 1863: "This score is a setting for band and narrator of Lincoln's Gettysburg commemorative words.  The tape you will hear was made by the U.S. Army Band, Col. Samuel R. Loboda conducting, with Capt. Allen Crowell as narrator."

Gillis on Men of Music: "This overture for band was commissioned by the American School Band Directors Association (ASBDA) as a tribute to its founder, Dale Harris.  The first performance was done by Dr. Donald McGinnis and University of Ohio Symphonic Band.  The work is published by Volkwein. In this performance, Col. Samuel R. Loboda is conducting the United States Army Band."

Gillis on Downbeat -- A Fable for Band: "Downbeat is a gentle satire on several things -- and besides, is a sneaky way to teach you a few things about instruments and styles while having a pleasant experience at the same time. It was originally part of a work titled 'Band Concert' and had its premiere at Interlochen with the composer conducting and Dr. John Sargent narrating. In this performance, Capt. Allen Crowell is again the narrator with the U.S. Army band under the baton of Col. Samuel R. Loboda."

Item 17: A Short Overture to an Unwritten Opera; Bing, Bang, Bong; Tulsa: A Symphonic Portrait in OilAdd to your cart.

Gillis on A Short Overture to an Unwritten Opera: "The Short Overture was written in 1945 and was first heard on the NBC broadcast 'Music for To-Night' conducted by Milton Katims.  It was soon after published by Boosey-Hawkes and became my first 'popular' composition, largely through the performances of it by Sigmund Romberg and his Orchestra.

"The opera for which it was 'unwritten' is still unwritten. "The orchestral version was recorded for Boosey-Hawkes Sound Library and the band version was done by the U.S. Army Band in a still-unpublished arrangement by Sgt. 'Red' Kirbey.

"Note:  In each instance the music on this reel is presented in both orchestral and band performance, the orchestral first, the band next."

Gillis on Bing Bang Bong: "This short score was commissioned by NBC for its 25th anniversary and performed on a special musical salute with the composer conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra.  The performance for Orchestra you are to hear was done at Carnegie Hall by the Symphony of the Air.  The band arrangement is published by Belwin-Mills and is performed here by the U.S. Army Band."

Gillis on Tulsa, A Symphonic Portrait in Oil: "The First National Bank of Tulsa, Oklahoma commissioned this music to be played the opening of their new bank building at the dedication ceremony on July 29, 1950.  It is dedicated to the bank and to conductor H. Arthur Brown of the Tulsa Philharmonic.  Mr. Brown recorded this work with the Vienna Philharmonic and almost started World War III as a result.

"There is a section in Tulsa calling for gun shots.  Mr. Brown had gone to the provost-general's office in Vienna to get permission to fire blank cartridges during the recording session.  Vienna at that time was still an occupied territory and the Brahms Hall was right across the street from the Russian command.  When the musicians arrived on the morning of the recording session, they noticed a number of tanks and mobile artillery armored cars lined up -- all with their guns pointing at the hall.  In a panic, lest the noise of the blank cartridges lead the Russians to think that they were under attack, the poor musicians begged the conductor not to fire the guns.  He complied -- thus probably averting World War III for a few years.

"The story is true enough; however, I don't believe the Russians would have really bombarded the building just because a 32-caliber blank pistol signaled the opening of the land rush. "Meanwhile (back at the business of telling you about what is in the piece), the work had little or no success until it was transcribed for band by Maurice Ford, then assistant leader of the U.S. Navy Band.

"The work is divided into four sections:  (a) the land before the people, (b) the Sooners, (c) the oil fields, and (d) celebration dance and shirt-tail parade. "The orchestral performance is by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the band version is played by the University of Michigan Band, William Revelli conducting."

Item 18: Cathedral Square; Silhouettes; Symphony No. 1 (An American Symphony); Paul Bunyon -- Portrait of a LegendAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Cathedral Square: "This work was written originally as a part of a series of music-for-sound-track library services, one of approximately twenty-five pieces.  Most of the others, or fragments of them, have been incorporated in one way or another into other works.  This one remains as written, a tonal portrait of a medieval cathedral.  It is scored for small orchestra."

Gillis on Silhouettes: "This trio for violin, cello, and piano was written for the NBC Trio in 1947 to be used as part of its regular Sunday morning broadcast series. This performance you are to hear (amid the scratches and pops of a vintage recording) was played by Daniel Guilet (violin), Nam Benditzky (cellist), and Joseph Kahn (pianist).

"While the electrostatic noises on the tape are somewhat distracting, the performance itself is one of the most artistically secure of any tape in this collection. "

The work is published by Belwin-Mills."

Gillis on Symphony No. 1: "Symphony No. 1, 'An American Symphony,' was written as partial fulfillment of requirements for a Master of Music degree in composition at North Texas State University in 1941. 

"After it was given its premiere performance by Floyd Graham and the NTSU Symphony Orchestra, the slow movement was broadcast the following day and this recording made.

"Although it, too, is filled with 'static' pops and clicks, we should forgive those distractions to study NTSU's 1942 broadcast performance. "The full score is on deposit at the NTSU library and pictures and additional program notes are in possession of Dr. Graham in Denton."

Gillis on Paul Bunyon -- A Portrait of a Legend [Note:  There are two performances of this work, the first for orchestra, the second for band.]: "This brief score was commissioned by William Yarborough, conductor of a touring chamber group called "Orchestra on Wheels." It is meant as a tribute to one of America's legendary folk heroes.  The work was written in the late 1960's and first performed by Mr. Yarborough (who is conducting the orchestra on the first performance band-tape).  The second performance on this reel is by the U.S. Navy Band at the American Band masters Convention at Columbus, Ohio on February 28, 1970."

Item 19: The Frontiersman; Portrait of a City Made of Steel; Lone StarAdd to your cart.

Gillis on The Frontiersman: Shortly after the initial success of 'Tulsa,' I was asked to do a series of tone portraits about other cities and areas significant to our nation's history.  I wrote this score without designating any particular area, rather visualizing and paying tribute to those who explored and conquered America's frontiers.

"The work is published by Southern Music, Inc. of San Antonio."

Gillis on Portrait of a City Made of Steel: "This score, commissioned in 1966 by the Northfield School District High School Band conducted by Warren Mercer, was written about Pittsburg.  It has no exact descriptive program; however, it does permit the listener to create his own mental images by reflective thought upon the sights and sounds suggested by the music which implement the portraiture.

"This performance is by the Northfield School District High School Band at its premiere performance March 14, 1967."

Gillis on Lone Star: "I think of all of the works I have written for band, this is one of the most completely satisfying to me.  It is played in this instance by the U.S. Army Band with the composer conducting.  It is about Texas, of course, but it is not programmatic music.

"The work is published by Southern Music, Inc. of San Antonio."

Item 20: Three Sketches for Strings; Night Song; Strictly for Strads; Soliloquy for Strings; The Night Before Christmas; So They May Also LearnAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Three Sketches for Strings (I. Enchantment; II. Day Dreams; III. Whimsey): "It is curious how works emerge from manuscript to print.  These pieces were originally part of a suite for string quartet titled 'Seven Sketches for Strings,' written for private performance at a party held at the home of the concertmaster of the Chicago NBC Staff Orchestra in 1944.  Later, Boosey-Hawkes selected three from the seven after they had been re-scored for string orchestra, publishing them in 1946 and recording them in the version we will hear now.

"Two of the other "original seven" formed the basis for the 2nd and 3rd movements of the 8th Symphony, and still another one, 'Scherzino for Strings,' is published by Belwin-Mills.  The 7th is still in my files waiting its turns."

Gillis on Night Song: "'Night Song' is actually the slow movement from my 2nd Symphony for Band, a work I completed and then discarded because I felt the need for a form other than 'symphony' (which relates more to the orchestra" in which to express a major musical work for band.  It is music in a quiet, contemplative mood."

Gillis on Strictly for Strads: "Dr. Joseph E. Maddy of National Music Camp asked me to write some music for the string orchestra there.  I did, composing this as well as "Soliloquy" for strings to be performed under his baton."

Gillis on Soliloquy for Strings: "As indicated above, these two works for string orchestra are normally performed together, the order of which is left to the conductor.  Both works were published by Interlochen Press and are now distributed by Crescendo Music Service in Naperville, Illinois.

"The performances of both pieces were done at Interlochen with Dr. Maddy conducting."

Gillis on The Night Before Christmas:

"As early as 1938, station manager George Cranston of WBAP (Ft. Worth) asked for a setting for narrator and orchestra of Clement Moore's 'A Visit from St. Nicholas.'  The work was done initially for the WBAP Staff Orchestra and then re-scored for full orchestra for subsequent performances at NBC.  Incidentally, it was done each Christmas Eve for about fifteen years by NBC and the tape you will hear is from one of the Chicago performances under the baton of Joseph Gallichio." Gillis on So They May Also Learn:

"The Montana Music Educators' Association commissioned a work for band and narrator in honor of retiring educator Lloyd Oakland.  The script is a tribute to all teachers.  The work is recorded here by the Great Falls High School Band in October of 1968."

Sub-Series 3: Reels 21 - 30Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: Ceremony of Allegiance; Streamliner; Quintet for Woodwinds, No. II; Sinfonia for Brass in Three MovementsAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Ceremony of Allegiance: "Commissioned by Kansas State Teachers' College at Emporia, Kansas, for their annual Band Day 1965, this work uses a narrator with band to speak words from the Declaration of Independence and the Pledge of Allegiance.  Published by Kjos, Inc., Chicago, the work has had thousands of performances.  It is recorded here by the U.S. Army Band with Capt. Allen Crowell narrating and Col. Samuel R. Loboda conducting."

Gillis on Streamliner: "This is a work for brass choir in my favorite instrumentation:  six trumpets, four horns, three baritones, three trombones, and one tuba.  The work is programmatically related to its title.

"It is heard in this taped performance by the brass choir of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, Ernest Glover conducting."

Gillis on Quintet for Woodwinds, No. II: "The 2nd Quintet was written while I was band director at Texas Christian University in about 1939-40.  There are three brief movements.

"The work is published by Belwin-Mills.

Gillis on Sinfonia for Brass in Three Movements: "Scored in the same instrumentation indicated in 'Streamliner,' this work was commissioned by Phi Mu Alpha, Sinfonia and premiered at a national convention in Cincinnati.  I don't remember who did the performance you are about to hear, but whoever it was didn't do a very good job of it."

Item 2: The Touchtone Concerto; Music to Listen to Announcements in Airports By; Herman, the Frog Who Sang at the MetAdd to your cart.

Gillis on The Touchtone Concerto: "For the Media Arts Festival at Dallas Baptist College, I decided to write a concerto for four touchtone telephones (their output amplified) plus pre-recorded sounds from telephone bells, busy signals, etc., and the Dallas Baptist Studio Group.

"On this tape you will hear the composer's introduction to the three-movement work first, then follows the actual performance by the instrumental soloists.  The whole event was a tongue-in-cheek contrivance which definitely disproves the old theory that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.  Or is that the other way around?

"Anyway, the use of pre-recorded music, the amplified sound of four touchtone telephones, plus the live musicians added zest to the 'media' factor in a 'Media Arts Festival.'"

Gillis on Music to Listen to Announcements in Airports By: "This is a 'media' composition -- and other than the fun of it, not too much else is accomplished.  The music on the tape is from Peachtree Promenade and Bobby Sox, the voices were those of friends of mine at NBC.  The script was written after an airport stopover in Minneapolis during which I became aware that there was constant music -- yet nothing ever was heard in completion because of the announcement of the planes."

Gillis on Herman, the Frog Who Sang at the Met: "This is a frothy bit I once whipped up to illustrate the use of cue music with narrator, a sort of "education through entertainment" concept that proves its thesis well, however zanily. "Most of the music on the tape (with the exception of the operatic bit and the Strauss polka) was excerpted from my own music.  The part of Symphony Sam  was played by an NBC friend of mine, Gene Garnes, who also assisted in some of the weird electronic effects and the final mix-down."

Item 3: Symphonic Poem: The Alamo; Thomas Wolfe, AmericanAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Symphonic Poem:  The Alamo: "The Alamo was written as a personalized reaction to the Texas symbol of freedom.  It was given its premiere in San Antonio by Dr. Max Reiter and the San Antonio Symphony and in this version was recorded by Dr. Joseph E. Maddy and the National High School Orchestra of Interlochen.

"The first sketches for this score were made with the band in mind and an early version had its premiere by the Baylor University Band conducted by Dr. Gid Waldrop in 1942.  The work was greatly revised later and cast into orchestral form and had its premiere performance on March 6, 1949. A copy of the full orchestral score is on deposit at the NTSU library."

Gillis on Thomas Wolfe, American: "The work is in five sections, three of which involve script: The Geographical America; Orchestral Interlude; The Well-Remembered Things of America; Orchestral Interlude; An American Credo.

"Commissioned by Thor Johnson for performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, this score is for narrator and orchestra.  The words are all from writings about America by Thomas Wolfe, put into script form by the composer from Wolfe's novels and short stories.

"The performance you are about to hear is the premiere performance of the work by Dr. Thor Johnson and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra."

Item 4: The Park Avenue KidsAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "On May 12, 1957 the premiere performance of "The Park Avenue Kids" took place in Elkhart, Indiana, with the Elkhart Civic Theater and the Elkhart Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Zigmund Gaska.  This tape is an recording of that performance.

"It is a comic opera, a comedy about a group of teenagers in New York City who call themselves the Park Avenue Kids. This is not the slickly rich area of Park Avenue, but rather the uptown district where people live on 'both sides of the tracks.'  Our youngsters, with the exception of one, Mary, are boys, and their newest big ambition is to get into show business via the country-western hillbilly route.  Fingers Flynn, a two-time loser from Sing Sing, interrupts a meeting in their clubroom.  Flynn wants to use their clubroom as a hideout since (at the moment) he is being inconveniently chased by the NY police for a robbery.  The Kids do not know him and are easily persuaded that he is a big Broadway producer who has come up to upper Park Avenue to audition them.  His true identity is discovered by Mary, who, in the end, captures him single-handedly and turns him over to Clancy the Cop.  Mary envisions all sorts of fame for herself because of her heroism and decides to organize her own band since Tex, the boys' leader, doesn't want her around.  Finally, however, they decide to stick together, and the work ends on a happy note as they announce rehearsal for the 'New Park Avenue Kids.'

"This work was my first attempt in creating dramatic music.  I make no judgement on its value except to say that I am proud of it and wish it could be heard more often. "Its genesis began when my own son, Don, Jr., organized a similar 'band' with the stated ambition to get into big-time broadcasting.  Years later he made it as he continues to write and conduct in Canadian radio and television. Perhaps the opera will also make it some day.  Its reception by audiences at Interlochen and Elkhart indicate their hearty approval of the work.  Even the critics were kind."

Item 5: The Park Avenue Kids, cont'd.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "On May 12, 1957 the premiere performance of "The Park Avenue Kids" took place in Elkhart, Indiana, with the Elkhart Civic Theater and the Elkhart Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Zigmund Gaska.  This tape is an recording of that performance.

"It is a comic opera, a comedy about a group of teenagers in New York City who call themselves the Park Avenue Kids. This is not the slickly rich area of Park Avenue, but rather the uptown district where people live on 'both sides of the tracks.'  Our youngsters, with the exception of one, Mary, are boys, and their newest big ambition is to get into show business via the country-western hillbilly route.  Fingers Flynn, a two-time loser from Sing Sing, interrupts a meeting in their clubroom.  Flynn wants to use their clubroom as a hideout since (at the moment) he is being inconveniently chased by the NY police for a robbery.  The Kids do not know him and are easily persuaded that he is a big Broadway producer who has come up to upper Park Avenue to audition them.  His true identity is discovered by Mary, who, in the end, captures him single-handedly and turns him over to Clancy the Cop.  Mary envisions all sorts of fame for herself because of her heroism and decides to organize her own band since Tex, the boys' leader, doesn't want her around.  Finally, however, they decide to stick together, and the work ends on a happy note as they announce rehearsal for the 'New Park Avenue Kids.'

"This work was my first attempt in creating dramatic music.  I make no judgement on its value except to say that I am proud of it and wish it could be heard more often. "Its genesis began when my own son, Don, Jr., organized a similar 'band' with the stated ambition to get into big-time broadcasting.  Years later he made it as he continues to write and conduct in Canadian radio and television. Perhaps the opera will also make it some day.  Its reception by audiences at Interlochen and Elkhart indicate their hearty approval of the work.  Even the critics were kind."

Item 6: The Park Avenue Kids, cont'd 2.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "On May 12, 1957 the premiere performance of "The Park Avenue Kids" took place in Elkhart, Indiana, with the Elkhart Civic Theater and the Elkhart Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Zigmund Gaska.  This tape is an recording of that performance.

"It is a comic opera, a comedy about a group of teenagers in New York City who call themselves the Park Avenue Kids. This is not the slickly rich area of Park Avenue, but rather the uptown district where people live on 'both sides of the tracks.'  Our youngsters, with the exception of one, Mary, are boys, and their newest big ambition is to get into show business via the country-western hillbilly route.  Fingers Flynn, a two-time loser from Sing Sing, interrupts a meeting in their clubroom.  Flynn wants to use their clubroom as a hideout since (at the moment) he is being inconveniently chased by the NY police for a robbery.  The Kids do not know him and are easily persuaded that he is a big Broadway producer who has come up to upper Park Avenue to audition them.  His true identity is discovered by Mary, who, in the end, captures him single-handedly and turns him over to Clancy the Cop.  Mary envisions all sorts of fame for herself because of her heroism and decides to organize her own band since Tex, the boys' leader, doesn't want her around.  Finally, however, they decide to stick together, and the work ends on a happy note as they announce rehearsal for the 'New Park Avenue Kids.'

"This work was my first attempt in creating dramatic music.  I make no judgement on its value except to say that I am proud of it and wish it could be heard more often. "Its genesis began when my own son, Don, Jr., organized a similar 'band' with the stated ambition to get into big-time broadcasting.  Years later he made it as he continues to write and conduct in Canadian radio and television. Perhaps the opera will also make it some day.  Its reception by audiences at Interlochen and Elkhart indicate their hearty approval of the work.  Even the critics were kind."

Item 7: Land of WheatAdd to your cart.

Movements: I. The Land and The People; II. The Planting' III. The Fields in Summer; IV. Threshin' Bee; V. Harvest Celebration

Gillis: "The Land of Wheat was commissioned by Nels Vogel of Nels Vogel Music Co., Moorhead, Minnesota and its premiere took place at the store's annual clinic with Col. Chester Whiting conducting the U.S. Army Field Band.  The work is published by Kjos, Inc. Of Chicago.

"The work is programmatic in the sense that its titles reflect moods and activities.  The 4th movement, 'Threshin' Bee,' is descriptive in its attempt to portray the realism of the old-time threshing machine.

"The tape you will hear is that of the premiere performance conducted by Col. Whiting."

Item 8: Overture: America's Gifted Youth; The Junior Hi-Fi March; Music for Strings:  Adoration at Eventide; March:  Mr. Big; Footsie; March:  The Mighty Mac; Rompin' Stomp; March:  Unistrut; January February MarchAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Overture:  America's Gifted Youth: "This overture really isn't an overture at all.  It is reality the first movement of my 2nd Symphony for Band (which I discarded in symphony form for reasons expressed earlier).  I gave the title "America's Gifted Youth" to the work in appreciation to National Music Camp and included it as the first movement of a major band form which I called 'Band Concert.'  Altogether I included ten movements in the work, intending to make it into the form following the usual programming pattern of a band concert.  That choice of 'form' also failed, largely because conductors do not usually want to devote a complete concert to the work of a single composer.

"Thus the 'Band Concert' form was also eliminated and the sections now appear as individual compositions."

Gillis on The Junior Hi-Fi March: "This is a good march but a rotten title.  It was also originally part of the 'band concert' form written for performance at Interlochen.  On this tape reel, items A, B, D, E, F, G, and H were all recorded by the U.S. Army Band with Col. Samuel R. Loboda conducting. "

Gillis on Music for Strings:  Adoration at Eventide: "A very simply piece in a meditative mood, this work was written first for performance with the strings of the Junior Camp division at Interlochen.  It is published by Belwin-Mills and is heard in this performance by the strings of the Salt Lake City Community Orchestra of Westminster College."

Gillis on March:  Mr. Big: "I wrote a number of marches in an extended form in order to get away from the traditional march pattern.  This is one of my personal favorites because its 'I know it all' attitude describes so many people I know."

Gillis on Footsie: "Everyone plays footsie at some time or another and so it seemed logical that if I wrote a composition by that name it also might be played.  I'm happy to report that it has been.  It is a simple, bluesy-type piece originally a part of the "band concert" format."

Gillis on March: The Mighty Mac: "Over the straits of Mackinaw (at least it's pronounced that way even if it is spelled Mackinac) there was a mighty bridge built.  At its dedication the Interlochen High School Camp Band was invited to play.  It was for this occasion that this march was written."

Gillis on Rompin' Stomp: "This work is, as you will see when you hear it, an attempt to transform the standard band sound into that of the Big Band sound of the 30's and 40's."

Gillis on March:  Unistrut: "In 1958 at the inception of the Interlochen Press, Mr. Charles Attwood, president of the Unistrut Corporation of Wayne, Michigan, commissioned a march to bear his company's name.  His generous gift of monies to underwrite the Interlochen Press beginnings was incentive to comply with his request.  The march is in non-traditional form and takes advantage more of concert presentation than field use."

Gillis on January February March: "In 1945 I wrote this march as part of the NBC program called "Music for To-Night," conducted by Milton Katims.  It was a spoof, a fun-poking attitude toward the standard march.  It proved to be that, but more, for it became very popular both with bands and orchestras.

"It was published by Boosey-Hawkes and is available in both the band and orchestral arrangement."

Item 9: Happy Jack; Music for 36 Trumpets; Music to Be Incidental ByAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Happy Jack: This work is a story for children based on the Thorton W. Burgess nature stories with script and narration by John Rust.  It was originally recorded by London Records with thirteen instrumentalists conducted by the composer.  The work is no longer available."

Gillis on Music for 36 Trumpets: "Written originally as part of a trumpet quartet, Mr. John Haynie of North Texas State University included it on a program featuring 'massed' trumpets.  The quartet is published by Boosey-Hawkes."

GIllis on Music To Be Incidental By: "When I was doing my series for National Educational Radio, I included a section in several of the broadcasts in which I delivered what I called "left-handed" lectures, i.e., materials which would teach but which were not the customary profundities perpetrated by the academic crowd on subjects relating to music. It is, all in all, a serious bit on incidental music.  Most of the cue music represented was excerpted from music I had written for other occasions.  Enjoy it."

Item 10: Suite from Twinkletoes; Symphonic Poem: AmarilloAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Suite from "Twinkletoes" (I. Twinkletoes; II. Mandarin Dance; III. Vim Vigor and Velocity; IV. Temple Dance, V. Tango Lullaby): "Several years I wrote music for what I thought was a most touchingly beautiful ballet:  a little crippled girl had an ambition to dance.  Her grandfather assures her that if she will allow herself to undergo surgery, she will be able to fulfill her ambition.  She does so, and while under anesthesia, she dreams of the great success she has while dancing all over the word.  And, of course, when she awakens, she is on the road to recovery and ultimate stardom as a ballerina. A good story, right?  Indeed -- the only trouble was that an almost identical story had been used before.  And so I scrapped my idea for doing a ballet, salvaging some of the music to be put into a suite of five short pieces.

"Most of the music you will hear was recorded in Rome.  Mandarin Dance was recorded by a studio orchestra in New York. The orchestral music has not been published, however.  Belwin-Mills has published all but Mandarin Dance for band."

Gillis on Symphonic Poem:  Amarillo: "I seem always to be writing music about places or cities:  Portrait of a Frontier Town (Ft. Worth), Portrait of a City Made of Steel (Pittsburg), Tulsa -- A Symphonic Portrait in Oil, and . . . Amarillo.

"It was Dr. A. Clyde Roller who suggested that I write a work about the city in which he was resident symphony conductor in 1962.  When the work was completed, he gave its world premiere on October 2, 1962.  The work is subtitled:  "A Symphonic Celebration" and was commissioned as part of the 75th anniversary of the city. "The work is in four movements, each section marked by a slight pause, and each movement inter-related by thematic materials.  The movements are descriptive and the score calls for prepared sound tapes including the sounds of Indians on the warpath, gunshots, the arrival of the U.S. Cavalry, the sound of an old train, etc. "I must confess that I like the piece, although it has not in any sense been played much.

"The work is on rental from Crescendo Music, Inc., Dallas, Texas."

Sub-Series 4: Reels 31 - 40Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: The NazareneAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "The music drama 'The Nazarene' is a religious work, the story for which came to me suddenly one morning in 1965 while I was living in New York City.  The piano-vocal score was completed that same year, the orchestration a year later.

"It was not until the spring of 1969, however, that the premiere took place.  During the Arts Festival of that year, held annually on the campus of Dallas Baptist College, Nazarene was performed twice with William Pickett as the crippled beggar, Ezra. The following summer it was done at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and Glorietta, New Mexico as part of the music week of the Baptist Encampment schedule.  It was published by Broadman Press of Nashville, Tennessee.

"Since its original presentation, it has had approximately fifty separate productions all over the United States and almost twice that number of performances.

"The story concerns itself with the unusual association of five people who were involved in one way or another with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  The setting is an inn which stands just outside the walls of Jerusalem on the road to Golgotha, The Sign of the Skull. "The story opens early on the morning of the resurrection as Joanna (one of the inn-keeper's daughters) talking with Ezra as they listen to the wailing of the nearby followers of Jesus who have hidden themselves away outside the city.  Both Amos, the inn-deeper and his other daughter, Rebecca, are much annoyed at the constancy of the grief, and he is particularly is bitter because business has failed completely since the crucifixion.  In one way or another, all have been a part of the vents of the life of Jesus:  Ezra, the crippled beggar, was in Bethlehem at the time of the annunciation and his legs were destroyed by a cruel beating given to him by the soldiers of Herod who were set on killing children and who, thinking he had warned Joseph and Mary, caused him never to be able to walk again.  Joanna and Rebecca were caught up in the crowd and swept into the courtyard of Caiaphias, the High Priest, hearing and seeing the trial of Jesus.

"Amos, their father, has actually been to see the Crucifixion take place, buying the robe from the robe from the soldiers.

"When Mary Magdalene appears to them in ecstasy because she has seen the risen Lord, they think she is crazy.  One by one they go, however, to help the Nazarenes who now rejoice at the news that their Master has risen.  Ezra is healed by a miracle, and hearing the voice of Jesus say, "Follow Me," goes also to join the Nazarenes.

"The work is scored for full orchestra, an unseen chorus, and a cast of five.  A single set is used throughout.  The work is one act and plays approximately an hour and thirty minutes. The unusual circumstances surrounding its inspiration and the subsequent effects of its performances on its audiences lead me to believe firmly that it was of God.  Had I written nothing else in my lifetime, my purpose for being would have been accomplished."

Item 2: The Nazarene, cont'd.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "The music drama 'The Nazarene' is a religious work, the story for which came to me suddenly one morning in 1965 while I was living in New York City.  The piano-vocal score was completed that same year, the orchestration a year later.

"It was not until the spring of 1969, however, that the premiere took place.  During the Arts Festival of that year, held annually on the campus of Dallas Baptist College, Nazarene was performed twice with William Pickett as the crippled beggar, Ezra. The following summer it was done at Ridgecrest, North Carolina, and Glorietta, New Mexico as part of the music week of the Baptist Encampment schedule.  It was published by Broadman Press of Nashville, Tennessee.

"Since its original presentation, it has had approximately fifty separate productions all over the United States and almost twice that number of performances.

"The story concerns itself with the unusual association of five people who were involved in one way or another with the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.  The setting is an inn which stands just outside the walls of Jerusalem on the road to Golgotha, The Sign of the Skull.

"The story opens early on the morning of the resurrection as Joanna (one of the inn-keeper's daughters) talking with Ezra as they listen to the wailing of the nearby followers of Jesus who have hidden themselves away outside the city.  Both Amos, the inn-deeper and his other daughter, Rebecca, are much annoyed at the constancy of the grief, and he is particularly is bitter because business has failed completely since the crucifixion.  In one way or another, all have been a part of the vents of the life of Jesus:  Ezra, the crippled beggar, was in Bethlehem at the time of the annunciation and his legs were destroyed by a cruel beating given to him by the soldiers of Herod who were set on killing children and who, thinking he had warned Joseph and Mary, caused him never to be able to walk again.  Joanna and Rebecca were caught up in the crowd and swept into the courtyard of Caiaphias, the High Priest, hearing and seeing the trial of Jesus.

"Amos, their father, has actually been to see the Crucifixion take place, buying the robe from the robe from the soldiers.

"When Mary Magdalene appears to them in ecstasy because she has seen the risen Lord, they think she is crazy.  One by one they go, however, to help the Nazarenes who now rejoice at the news that their Master has risen.  Ezra is healed by a miracle, and hearing the voice of Jesus say, "Follow Me," goes also to join the Nazarenes.

"The work is scored for full orchestra, an unseen chorus, and a cast of five.  A single set is used throughout.  The work is one act and plays approximately an hour and thirty minutes. The unusual circumstances surrounding its inspiration and the subsequent effects of its performances on its audiences lead me to believe firmly that it was of God.  Had I written nothing else in my lifetime, my purpose for being would have been accomplished."

Item 3: The LibrettoAdd to your cart.

"The Libretto is a comic opera in one act about a composer who wants to write an opera but can't find a libretto -- and his wife who tries to help him find one.

"The words are somewhat autobiographical, in a sense, for finding a libretto is indeed a tough job.  In my own instance, I learned to write them myself.  In the instance of Bill Emmett, our composer in the opera, he had only the assistance of his wife Jan and her long list of ways to put a proper book together for operatic purposes.

"The work was first produced in Dallas at the convention of the National Opera Association in 1960.  The production company was North Texas State's School of Music and Eugene Conley's opera workshop.

"John Rosenfield gave it a rave review and Mr. Conley's group performed it a number of times.

"In the production we will hear, the orchestra of the U.S. Army Band conducted by Col. Gilbert is heard.  The work is on rental through Crescendo Music, Inc. in Dallas."

Item 4: The Libretto, cont'd.Add to your cart.

"The Libretto is a comic opera in one act about a composer who wants to write an opera but can't find a libretto -- and his wife who tries to help him find one.

"The words are somewhat autobiographical, in a sense, for finding a libretto is indeed a tough job.  In my own instance, I learned to write them myself.  In the instance of Bill Emmett, our composer in the opera, he had only the assistance of his wife Jan and her long list of ways to put a proper book together for operatic purposes.

"The work was first produced in Dallas at the convention of the National Opera Association in 1960.  The production company was North Texas State's School of Music and Eugene Conley's opera workshop.

"John Rosenfield gave it a rave review and Mr. Conley's group performed it a number of times.

"In the production we will hear, the orchestra of the U.S. Army Band conducted by Col. Gilbert is heard.  The work is on rental through Crescendo Music, Inc. in Dallas."

Item 5: Star Valley JunctionAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "One of my big ambitions was always to write an opera about Texas.  So I contrived a story about Texas back in 1886 in a town I invented called Star Valley Junction.  I filled the town with both good guys and bad guys, and my story included almost every cliche that one ever heard of in Western stories,  movies and television shows.

"Since the plot of the opera is contained on these audition tapes, I will not go into it here except to say that star Valley Junction is a full-fledged Texas opera still waiting its chance to be premiered.

"The tapes you will hear were made to 'audition' the show for prospective producers."

Item 5a: Star Valley Junction, cont'd.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "One of my big ambitions was always to write an opera about Texas.  So I contrived a story about Texas back in 1886 in a town I invented called Star Valley Junction.  I filled the town with both good guys and bad guys, and my story included almost every cliche that one ever heard of in Western stories,  movies and television shows.

"Since the plot of the opera is contained on these audition tapes, I will not go into it here except to say that star Valley Junction is a full-fledged Texas opera still waiting its chance to be premiered.

"The tapes you will hear were made to 'audition' the show for prospective producers."

Item 7: Pep RallyAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "Pep Rally is an opera in once act, two scenes, first performed August 15, 1957 at the National Music Camp in Interlochen with Barre Hill as producer and the cast, chorus, and band under the baton of Dr. George C. Wilson.

"That's right, band.  Pep Rally is, as far as anyone is able to find out, the first opera ever to be scored for band instead of orchestra.

"It is a 'spoof' of American college life, concerning itself with the activities on campus the night before the big championship football game.  The action takes place at the Varsity Shop where the students gather, and football hero Johnny Meer is the subject of a 'frame' by gamblers to get him off the team so it can't possibly win.

"With the assistance of his fiance, Terry Brown, and the campus "brain," electronics whiz Billy Buster, the plot is foiled and the whole thing ends happily with a pep rally that predicts victory for the home team. "The tape being heard here is of the premiere performance at Interlochen.  The work is on rental by Crescendo Music, Inc. Of Dallas."

Item 8: Pep Rally, cont'd.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "Pep Rally is an opera in once act, two scenes, first performed August 15, 1957 at the National Music Camp in Interlochen with Barre Hill as producer and the cast, chorus, and band under the baton of Dr. George C. Wilson.

"That's right, band.  Pep Rally is, as far as anyone is able to find out, the first opera ever to be scored for band instead of orchestra.

"It is a 'spoof' of American college life, concerning itself with the activities on campus the night before the big championship football game.  The action takes place at the Varsity Shop where the students gather, and football hero Johnny Meer is the subject of a 'frame' by gamblers to get him off the team so it can't possibly win.

"With the assistance of his fiance, Terry Brown, and the campus "brain," electronics whiz Billy Buster, the plot is foiled and the whole thing ends happily with a pep rally that predicts victory for the home team. "The tape being heard here is of the premiere performance at Interlochen.  The work is on rental by Crescendo Music, Inc. Of Dallas."

Item 9: Pep Rally, cont'd 2.Add to your cart.

Gillis: "Pep Rally is an opera in once act, two scenes, first performed August 15, 1957 at the National Music Camp in Interlochen with Barre Hill as producer and the cast, chorus, and band under the baton of Dr. George C. Wilson.

"That's right, band.  Pep Rally is, as far as anyone is able to find out, the first opera ever to be scored for band instead of orchestra.

"It is a 'spoof' of American college life, concerning itself with the activities on campus the night before the big championship football game.  The action takes place at the Varsity Shop where the students gather, and football hero Johnny Meer is the subject of a 'frame' by gamblers to get him off the team so it can't possibly win.

"With the assistance of his fiance, Terry Brown, and the campus "brain," electronics whiz Billy Buster, the plot is foiled and the whole thing ends happily with a pep rally that predicts victory for the home team. "The tape being heard here is of the premiere performance at Interlochen.  The work is on rental by Crescendo Music, Inc. Of Dallas."

Item 10: Let Us PrayAdd to your cart.

"Let Us Pray is a multi-media essay for orchestra, chorus, narrators, soloists, and pantomimists.  It was first performed at Dallas Baptist College under the baton of the composer.  The tape being heard here was done during the summer of 1973 using a small orchestra.  Prior to its premiere at Dallas Baptist in full media, it had had an initial performance at Texas A&I University in 1970.

"The work involves itself into a great variety of presentational media forms including slides, over-lay pre-recorded audio tape, film, stage action, etc.  Essentially it is a dialogue between an older man and a boy with the fundamental subject matter being prayer.

"The work is published by Crescendo Music, Inc. of Dallas, and a copy of the score is deposited with the NTSU Music Library."

Sub-Series 5: Reels 41 - 50Add to your cart.
 
Item 1: Let Us Pray, cont'd.Add to your cart.

"Let Us Pray is a multi-media essay for orchestra, chorus, narrators, soloists, and pantomimists.  It was first performed at Dallas Baptist College under the baton of the composer.  The tape being heard here was done during the summer of 1973 using a small orchestra.  Prior to its premiere at Dallas Baptist in full media, it had had an initial performance at Texas A&I University in 1970.

"The work involves itself into a great variety of presentational media forms including slides, over-lay pre-recorded audio tape, film, stage action, etc.  Essentially it is a dialogue between an older man and a boy with the fundamental subject matter being prayer.

"The work is published by Crescendo Music, Inc. of Dallas, and a copy of the score is deposited with the NTSU Music Library."

Item 2: Five-Acre Pond; Dialogue for Trombone and Band; Rhapsody for TrumpetAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Five Acre Pond: "In the tape of Five Acre Pond you will hear, Don Jaeger will be the oboe soloist with the Faculty-Staff Orchestra of National Music Camp under the baton of Dr. A. Clyde Roller.

"The work is a pastorale, its title taken from the name of the 'old swimming hole' of my youth in Cameron, Missouri.  It is scored for strings, harp, celeste-piano, percussion, and solo oboe."

Gillis on Dialogue for Trombone and Band: "I played trombone for many years, both as student and then professionally.  Probably this factor was the genesis of my wanting to write a piece which was out of the tradition of the usual little fonky [sic] piece which trombone students were handed to study.  At any rate, the work does have a feeling of jazz and its lyrical middle part is one of the finest things I have done.

In the recording we are to hear, my brother Lewis Gillis is the soloist with the Texas Christian University Horned Frog Band.  The trombone-piano version is published by Belwin-Mills."

Gillis on Rhapsody for Trumpet: "The great 'Doc' Severinsen is soloist on this performance of the Rhapsody for Trumpet.  The orchestra is the All-City Orchestra of the Dallas Public Schools.

"The work is in four short movements, played without pause.  It has also been scored for band and had its initial performance by Dr. Douglas Smith in that version.  It is on rental through Crescendo Music, Inc. in Dallas."

Item 3: Shindig; Saga of a PioneerAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Shindig: "When I wrote Shindig for production by the Fort Worth Civic Ballet, I did not realize that I had a hit on my hands.  Actually the hit didn't come from Ft. Worth, but rather through the choreography of Lloyd Tyget and the American Festival Ballet Company.  They performed the score almost five hundred times in South America, North Africa, and in all of the major cities of Europe.  The work has also been mounted by a number of American companies, but it was the American Festival Ballet Company which gave it whatever fame it now has.

"The story is that of the traditional problem of the old Western towns:  the bad guys take over, the good guys try to restore law and order.  Here the attitude is one of gentle satire with much of the action played for comedy, yet in no sense making fun of the age-old Western traditions. "The recording you are to hear is one made during a broadcast of the NBC Symphony Orchestra from the Belasco Theater in 1953 with the composer conducting.  The work is also recorded by the Hamburg Symphony Orchestra.  The music is available on rental from Belwin-Mills, New York."

Gillis on Saga of a Pioneer (I. The Land Beyond; II. The Pioneers; III. Song of Memory; IV. Centennial Celebration): "The recording of Saga of a Pioneer you will hear is by the University of Illinois band.  It was commissioned for the Gunnison Music Camp on the occasion fo the 100th anniversary of the state of Colorado.

"The work is scored for symphonic band in traditional instrumentation and is published by Southern Music Company of San Antonio."

Item 4: The Gift of the MagiAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "The Gift of the Magi is an opera for Christmas based on O. Henry's short story with script and music by Don Gillis.  It is scored for small orchestra, chorus, and a cast of three.  It uses a single set traditionally; however, it is designed to be performed either very simply or as elaborately as the production forces allow.

"In this performance the University of Michigan orchestra, chorus, and soloists are under the baton of Dr. Maynard Klein in a special radio performance commissioned by the National Educational Radio Network.  The work is also produced by the South Carolina Educational Television Network.

"Its first performance was by Texas Weslyan College opera workshop production conducted by my brother, Lewis D. Gillis.  It has had innumerable productions. The work is published by Crescendo Music Co., Dallas, and a copy of the score is on deposit in the NTSU Music Library."

Item 5: Four Scenes from Yesterday; The Coming of the KingAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Four Scenes from Yesterday (I. North Harris; II. Courthouse Square; III. From a Winter's Dream; IV. Brushy Creek): "The performance you will hear on this tape is by the Interlochen Arts Academy Orchestra with the soloists selected from the students there.  The orchestra of strings, celeste-piano, percussion, and harp are conducted by Dr.  George C. Wilson.The work, a series of woodwind solo pieces scored for chamber orchestra, was written -- one at a time -- for performance by Milton Katims on an NBC series "Music for Tonight," with members of the NBC Symphony Orchestra as soloists.  It was published by Boosey-Hawkes (except for "Brushy Creek," which has not yet been released) for both solo-piano and full score.

"Its first performance was by Walter Hendel at Chataqua."

Gillis on The Coming of the King: "Norman Vincent Peale wrote a children's version of the Christmas story published by Prentice-Hall.  That publisher contacted Mills Music and the result was a cantata for Narrator and chorus in a full setting of the book contents plus a carol for which the words were written by the composer.  It was recorded for Columbia Records with David Wayne as narrator and the gothic Choir conducted by Ralph Hunter with Ashley Miller at the organ.

"The work had its initial television performance by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine with Bishop Pike as narrator.  It is scored for full orchestra."

Item 6: Hymn and Prayer for Peace; Symphony "X," "Big D"Add to your cart.

Gillis on Hymn and Prayer for Peace: "This brief choral work was written as a personalized utterance to express hope and belief that peace could be found.  It was recorded by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in an album called 'Hymns and Songs of Brotherhood.' 

"The work is published by Crescendo Music Service, Naperville, Illinois."

Gillis on Symphony "X", "Big D" (I. All-American City; II. Requiem for a Hero; III. Conventioneers; IV. Cotton Bowl): "There are two versions of this symphony presented on this reel:  first, the orchestral performance recorded by the Northern Virginia Youth Orchestra, James Christian Pfohl conducting, and the other by the U.S. Army Band under the baton of the composer.

"Symphony 'X' was written originally for performance by the Alabama Youth Symphony at Auburn University and performed there during the summer of 1967. "It is sub-titled "Big D" because it is a work about Dallas, Texas.

"It had its first performance by band at the convention of the American Bandmasters Association in Arlington, Texas in 1970, and the work (in band form) is published by Boosey-Hawkes."

Item 7: Cracker Barrel March; Three Time Blues; Bayou Song; Recipe in Rhythm; Hymn Song for Sunday; Minuet-cetera; Cyclometrics Overture; This Solemn Hour; Variations on a Kitchen SinkAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Cracker Barrel March: "The Cracker Barrel March was written at Interlochen and first performed there.  Its title was suggested by the name of a 'country store' by that name near National Music Camp.  It is published by Belwin-Mills."

Gillis on Three Time Blues: "Three Time Blues was originally one of the movements of the 'band concert' work, a slow blues for solo trumpet written in three instead of the customary four-beat blues.  It is played here by the National High School Band at Interlochen."

Gillis on Bayou Song: "Bayou Song is still another of the 'band concert' movements, a quiet retrospective tone portrait of tranquility in a Southern setting."

Gillis on Recipe in Rhythm: "Recipe in Rhythm was the final movement, originally, of the Second Symphony for Band.  This performance is by the U.S. Army Band with the composer conducting."

Gillis on Hymn Song for Sunday: "Hymn Song for Sunday is a short tone poem reflective of the Sunday morning time when most people take time to meditate upon their God." G

illis on Minuet-cetera: "Minuet-cetera was originally the 3rd movement of the now-discarded Second Symphony for Band.  It is, as you will hear in this performance by the U.S. Army Band, a minuet which keeps interrupting itself."

Gillis on Cyclometrics Overture: Neil Kjos, the publisher of this work, didn't like my original title for it, which was 'Razzle Dazzle,' wanting a more 'contemporary' title.  The original title was more reflective of the mood of the piece; however, the cyclometric aspect also describes it well in the constance of the recurrence of the thematic materials."

Gillis on This Solemn Hour: "While most of my music for band is considered to be 'hard' to play (and to some, also hard to listen to", this is a very simply piece.  Originally part of the 'band concert' format, it is published by Interlochen Press and distributed through Crescendo Music Service of Naperville, Illinois."

Gillis on Variations on a Kitchen Sink: "Imagine, if you will, a collection of utensils from the family kitchen in the hands of individual soloists who are being conducted (along with the band) by a man with a chef's hat on his hand and a ladle for a baton.  This is the envisioned scene for any production of Variations on a Kitchen Sink.

"The work is a fun piece and has been widely performed and really should be subsized [sic] by all those folks who make skillets, pots and pans, and kitchen-wear.

"The performance you will hear here is by the Interlochen Junior High Band with the chief percussionist Jack McKenzie supervising the ladles and all.

"It was published by Interlochen Press and is distributed by Crescendo Music Service."

Item 8: Piano Concerto No. 1 (The Encore Concerto); Rhapsody for Harp and OrchestraAdd to your cart.

Gillis on Piano Concerto No. I, "The Encore Concerto": "The Encore Concerto was originally conceived to be a companion piece for concert pianists who were playing one of the Mozart of similar-type concerti of shorter nature.  Thus this concerto is quite short itself, the playing time being about seventeen minutes. "It is not a bravura concerto, although it does require virtuosity to play.  The first movement is a quick-moving work that seems to vacillate between the classicism of its presumed companion piece (the Mozart, etc.) and a contemporary idiom.

"The second movement is a blues and the finale  is again a rapidly-moving tempo.

"The recording you are to hear was made some years back in the Navy Band Loft in Washington, the orchestra of the Navy Band playing with Joseph Kahn as soloist.

"At one point the composer made a transcription for band, using the organ as solo instrument instead of piano -- later deciding that the piano version was highly superior.  The band arrangement, however, serves well as the accompaniment body.

"The work is on rental from Crescendo Music, Inc. of Dallas.

Gillis on Rhapsody for Harp and Orchestra: "In 1952 at the Belasco Theater in New York City, it was my privilege to conduct the NBC Symphony Orchestra in a program of my own music.  Of the works selected to be played, the one which perhaps received the greatest acclaim was the Harp Rhapsody.

"Edward Vito was the reason, I think, for this great harpist played the premiere performance with tremendous artistry. It is this performance that you will hear on our tape.

"The Rhapsody has had a number of performances in Europe with the harpist of the BBC Symphony Orchestra and at National Music Camp with Kleinstuber as soloist.

"It is on rental from Crescendo Music, Inc. of Dallas."

Item 9: Joyful and TriumphantAdd to your cart.

Gillis: "In the strictest sense, this is not a 'composition' but rather an arrangement of Christmas music recorded by RCA for distribution through the Readers Digest Record Club.

"RCA's assignment was to write a setting in stereo to fill both sides of a 33 1/3 RPM.  The instrumentation was to be left to me.

"I chose a double band (for right and left channels) with chorus, organ, and woodwinds in the middle and brasses and percussion on either side.

"I chose to set my instrumentation of this Celebration of Christmas in a rather unusual combination of chorus, double brass and percussion choirs, woodwinds, organ, harp, piano, and celeste.

"The music was scored for a stereo session held in Kingsway Hall in London.  It was recorded for RCA's Readers Digest Record Club.  The main requirement was that the work be divided into two 'sides' in length and that it contain only non-copyright materials.

"The scoring was done during the summer of 1962 in Traverse City, Michigan and recorded the following summer.  It is not, in the strictest sense, a 'composition,' rather an immense transcription and fantasy based on familiar Christmas tunes.

"I commend this work to students interested in band scoring.

"The work is available for rental from Crescendo Music, Inc., Dallas, Texas."

Item 10: Symphony No. 1 for BandAdd to your cart.

Movements: I. Cameron Junction; II. The Pleasant Years; III. Uncle Walt's Waltz; IV. Fall Festival Gillis: "Among the rather unusual happenings to this work is its premiere in Joliet, Illinois -- for it was conducted by four separate conductors, each taking a different movement.

"The work was written at the suggestion of William Sandburg, then publisher of Educational Music Services of New York.

"He invited me to write a work for band with no restrictions on scoring or technical difficulties.  The work was later transferred to Interlochen Press where two movements (the 2nd and 3rd) were printed.

"It is an introspective work in that Cameron, Missouri was my home town and the titles all reflect memories I have of this most pleasant of small Missouri towns.

"The performance you will hear is by the U.S. Army Band with the composer conducting."

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