Composer, arranger, conductor and editor, Alfred Reed’s life was intertwined with music almost from birth in New York City on January 25th, 1921. His parents loved good music and made it part of their daily lives; as a result he was well acquainted with most of the standard symphonic and operatic repertoire while Mr. Reed was still in elementary school.
Beginning formal music training at the age of ten as a trumpet player, he was already playing professionally while still in high school, and shortly thereafter began the serious study of harmony and counterpoint as a prelude to composition, which had come to exercise a stronger hold on his interest and ambition than playing. After three years at the Radio Workshop in New York, he spent the next three in service during World War II, where, as a member of an Air Force Band, he became deeply interested in the concert band and its music. Following his release, he enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music to study under Vittorio Giannini, and from there, in 1948, became a staff composer and arranger with NBC and subsequently, with ABC, where he wrote and arranged music for radio, television, record albums and films.
In 1953, Alfred Reed resumed his academic work (which had been interrupted by his leaving Juilliard for NBC) and became conductor of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra while at Baylor University in Texas. His Masters thesis was the Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra, which was to win the Luria Prize. Two years later, in 1955, he accepted the post of editor in a major music publishing firm, and for the next 11 years became deeply concerned with the problems of educational music at all levels of performance. In 1966 he left this position to join the faculty of the School of Music at the University of Miami, where he developed the first four-year Music Industry program, and in 1980, following the retirement of his old friend and colleague, Dr. Frederick Fennell, was appointed music director and conductor of the University of Miami Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
With over 200 published works in all media, many of which have been on required performance lists for over 25 years, Dr. Reed is one of the nation’s most prolific and frequently performed composers. In addition to winning the Luria Prize in 1959, he has been awarded over 60 commissions. . . with more on the way! His work as a guest conductor has taken him to 49 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Australia and South America. He was the first “foreign” conductor to be invited to conduct and record with the world famous Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, and is today the most frequently performed foreign composer in Japan.
Dr. Reed left New York for Miami, Florida, in 1960, where he made his home until his death on September 16, 2005.