David Wallis Reeves

From Wind Repertory Project
David Wallis Reeves


David Wallis Reeves (14 February 1838, Oswego, N,Y. - 8 March 1900, Providence, R.I.), often known as D.W. Reeves, was an American composer, cornetist, and bandleader.

In the early 1850s, Reeves joined the Oswego band as an alto horn player, but soon moved to cornet, the instrument he would become famous for. He occasionally performed with Jules Levy, another famous cornetist of the period.

Reeves was a cornetist with the Dodworth Band of New York before being recruited by the American Brass Band of Providence, Rhode Island in 1866. He joined the ensemble on February 17, and was elected its leader on April 9. His initial compensation was $600 per year, plus the proceeds of one concert, in return for which he agreed to conduct the band on all occasions. He eventually added woodwinds to the formerly all-brass band, which became known as Reeves' American Band. It was known as one of the best marching bands in the country during his tenure. In 1892, he accepted the directorship of Patrick Gilmore's Twenty-Second New York Regiment band after Gilmore's death, but returned to the American Band after a year. Later in the 1890s, he served as a judge for the New York Volunteer Firemen's Association's band competitions.

In 1878, Reeves led a performance of H. M. S. Pinafore, which Arthur Sullivan took note of, using a boat docked at the waterfront for the stage.

Early in 1900, he contracted and died from Bright's disease. His funeral service took place at the First Baptist Church in America, where he had frequently led the American Band as part of Brown University's Commencement ceremonies, and included a performance of his Immortalis by the American Band. Sousa sent 200 roses in his memory. He was buried at Swan Point Cemetery with Masonic honors.

Reeves developed the American march style, later made famous by the likes of John Philip Sousa, and his innovations include adding a countermelody to marches, in 1876. Sousa called Reeves "The Father of Band Music in America", and stated he wished he himself had written Reeves' Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March. (Charles Ives later borrowed from the Second Connecticut on two occasions.) By the time of his death, Reeves had composed over 100 works.

Works for Winds