Norman Dello Joio

From Wind Repertory Project
Norman Dello Joio


Norman Dello Joio (born Nicodemo DeGioio 24 January 1913, New York City - 24 July 2008, East Hampton, N.Y.) was an American composer.

Dello Joio was born to Italian immigrants and began his musical career as organist and choir director at the Star of the Sea Church on City Island in New York at age 14. His father was an organist, pianist, and vocal coach and coached many opera stars from the Metropolitan Opera. He taught Norman piano starting at the age of four. In his teens, Norman began studying organ with his godfather, Pietro Yon, who was the organist at Saint Patrick's Cathedral. In 1939, he received a scholarship to the Juilliard School of Music, where he studied composition with Bernard Wagenaar.

As a graduate student at Juilliard he arrived at the conclusion that he did not want to spend his life in a church choir loft, and composition began to become his primary musical interest. In 1941, he began studies with Paul Hindemith, the man who profoundly influenced his compositional style. It was Hindemith who told Dello Joio, "Your music is lyrical by nature, don’t ever forget that." Dello Joio states that, although he did not completely understand at the time, he now knows what he meant: "Don’t sacrifice necessarily to a system; go to yourself, what you hear. If it’s valid, and it’s good, put it down in your mind. Don’t say I have to do this because the system tells me to. No, that’s a mistake."

A prolific composer, the partial list of Dello Joio’s compositions include over forty-five choral works, close to thirty works for orchestra and ten for band, approximately twenty-five pieces for solo voice, twenty chamber works, concertos for piano, flute, harp, a concertante for clarinet, and a concertino for harmonica. He has also written a number of pedagogical pieces for both two and four hands.

Dello Joio taught at Sarah Lawrence College, the Mannes College of Music, and was Professor of Music and Dean of the Fine and Applied Arts School of Boston University. From 1959 until 1973, he directed the Ford Foundation’s Contemporary Music Project, which placed young composers in high schools who were salaried to compose music for school ensembles and programs. The project placed about ninety composers, many who successfully continued their careers.

Works for Winds


  • Bersaglia, Glen Scott. "From Every Horizon." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 491-494. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.
  • Lutch, Mitchell. “Norman Dello Joio.” In A Composer’s Insight, Volume 2, Timothy Salzman, editor. Galesville, Md.: Meredith Music Publications, 2004. pp. 16–38.
  • Miles, Richard B., and Larry Blocher. (2010). Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 1. Chicago: GIA Publications. pp. 548.
  • Norman Dello Joio website
  • Norman Dello Joio, Prized Composers, University of Washington