Don Gillis

From Wind Repertory Project
Don Gillis


Don Gillis (17 June 1912, Cameron, Mo. - 10 January 1978, Columbia, S.C.) was an American composer and conductor.

Gillis received the BA, BM, and honorary DM from Texas Christian University, and the MM degree from North Texas State University. At TCU, Gillis also led the 111th Medical Regiment (National Guard) Band.

The name of Don Gillis on a program leads audiences to expect tuneful, picturesque music, descriptive of various American scenes. Educated in Kansas, a college band director and music department head in Texas, musical director for NBC radio during a long series of Toscanini broadcasts, a promoter for the National Music Camp—these are a few of the activities which have influenced the compositional styles of Don Gillis.

In addition to composing for a variety of choral and instrumental ensembles, he has guest-conducted bands and orchestras in the United States and in Europe. Some of his better-known scores include The Man Who Invented Music, The January February March, Alice in Orchestralia, The Coming of the Kings, Symphony for Band, Ballet for Band, Saga of a Pioneer, Tulsa, Symphony 5, and Symphony X (Big “D”). His works, which number over 200, have been performed in 35 countries. Before his death in January 1978, Gillis was the director of the Center for Media Arts Studies and composer-in-residence at the University of South Carolina.

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