Paul Creston (10 October 1906, New York - 24 August 1985, San Diego, Calif.) was an American composer.
Born Giuseppe Guttovergi to Italian immigrants, Creston studied piano but was self-taught in violin and composition because of the meager income of his family. To support himself he played organ, holding a position at St. Malachy's Church in New York from 1934 to 1967. He also taught at Central Washington State College and New York College of Music.
Creston won two Guggenheim Fellowships (1938, 1939), the New York Music Critics' Circle Award (1943), and the Music Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1943). He wrote two theoretical books, Principles of Rhythm (1964) and Rational Metric Notation (1979). His students include Charles Roland Berry, Rusty Dedrick, and John Corigliano.
He was an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, initiated into the national honorary Alpha Alpha chapter. His work tends to be fairly conservative in style, with a strong rhythmic element. His pieces include six symphonies and numerous concertos: Concerto No. 1 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 65 (1956) & Concerto No. 2 for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 78 (1960), Concertino Marimba and Orchestra, Op. 21 (or Wind Band, Op. 21B) (1940) (premiered by Ruth Stuber), Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, Op. 43 (1949), Concerto for 2 Pianos and Orchestra, Op. 50 (1950), Concerto for Alto Saxophone, Op. 26 (1944) (dedicated to Cecil Leeson), Fantasy for Trombone and Orchestra (composed for and premiered by Robert Marsteller), and a Rhapsody for Alto Saxophone (written for Jean-Marie Londeix). He also wrote a Suite for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op. 6 (1935) Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op. 19 (1939) both dedicated to Cecil Leeson. Several of his works were inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman.
Creston was one of the most performed American composers of the 1940s and 1950s. Several of his works have become staples of the wind band repertoire: Zanoni, Op. 40, (1946), Prelude and Dance, Op. 76 (1959) and the Celebration Overture, Op. 61 (1954) have been and still are on several state lists for contests across the USA and form part of the standard repertoire for wind band concert programs.
Creston was also a notable teacher, with the composers Irwin Swack, John Corigliano, Elliott Schwartz, Frank Felice, and Charles Roland Berry, accordionist/composer William Schimmel and the jazz musicians Rusty Dedrick and Charlie Queener among his pupils.
Works for Winds
- Anatolia (1968)
- Celebration Overture (1955)
- Celebration Overture (ed. Madden) (1955/2016)
- Concertino for Marimba and Band (1940/1975)
- Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra (or Band) (1941/1963/1966)
- Fantasy for Trombone and Orchestra (or Band)
- Five Little Dances (trans. Longfield) (1946/2013)
- Kalevala (1971)
- Legend (1942/1945)
- Night in Mexico (tr. Yates) (1966/1997)
- Prelude and Dance (1959)
- Square Dance '76 (1977)
- Suite for Saxophone Quartet
- Zanoni (1949)
- Liberty Song ’76 (1976)
- Cummings, Paul. "Five Little Dances." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 389-398. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.
- Paul Creston at G. Schirmer's Website
- Paul Creston, Wikipedia. Accessed 21 May 2020
- Worzbyt, Jason. "Legend." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 10, Compiled and edited by Richard Miles, 629-634. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2015.