Benjamin Grierson

From Wind Repertory Project
Benjamin Grierson

Biography

Benjamin H. Grierson (8 July 1926, Pittsburgh, Penn. - 31 August 1911, Omena, Mich.) was an American composer and career Army cavalry officer.

Grierson became proficient on the E-flat clarinet, bass clarinet, flute, piano, violin, guitar, and most band instruments, and was leader of the Youngstown (Ohio) Band at the age of only 13. He also organized a popular local trio of flute, violin, and bass clarinet. He moved with his family to Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1851, where he taught music, directed bands, tuned pianos, and generally made his living through music.

In 1855, he moved to nearby Meredosia, Illinois, giving up music entirely for the mercantile business. A supporter of President Abraham Lincoln, he volunteered for the Union Army in 1861, immediately becoming a major in the cavalry. As a cavalry colonel, he was leader of "Grierson's Raid, " in which his troops disrupted Confederate communications and destroyed supplies through the state of Mississippi in April-May, 1863.

Grierson was the composer and/or arranger of an undetermined number of works during the period of 15 years in which he was an active musician. Some of Grierson's manuscripts are now on deposit at the Fort Davis Historical Site at Fort Davis, Texas, a restored cavalry post. Others are at the Illinois State Historical Library in Springfield, Illinois. A 189-page manuscript of full band scores, probably written by Grierson during his youth in Akron, Ohio, is possibly the earliest extensive American collection of full band scores. According to his unpublished autobiography, The Lights and Shadows of Life, he composed several comic operas and comic songs in addition to his band pieces.


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