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Frank Bencriscutto

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Frank Bencriscutto


Peter Anthony Frank Bencriscutto (28 September 1928, Racine, Wisc. – 28 August 1997, St. Paul, Minn.) was an American composer, arranger and conductor.

Born the ninth of ten children of an Italian immigrant couple, Bencriscutto began playing the saxophone at age 10, and within two years he was playing jazz professionally. He held Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Eastman School of Music. While a student at Eastman, he played alto saxophone in the famed Eastman Wind Ensemble under the direction of Frederick Fennell. His principal composition teachers were Bernard Rogers and Howard Hanson.

Beginning in 1960, when he became head of the band department at the University of Minnesota, his top band played at many state and national conventions and has traveled extensively both in the United States and abroad, including a seven-week tour throughout the Soviet Union in 1969. As a result of the unusual success of the tour, Dmitri Shostakovich, on behalf of the Soviet government, invited Bencriscutto to be an honored guest of the Soviet Union during the 1970 International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. In 1980, he conducted the University of Minnesota Wind Ensemble on a tour of the People’s Republic of China, the first American band to do so. Bencriscutto was Director of Bands at the University of Minnesota until his retirement, receiving much praise for his work with the Wind Ensemble and the Jazz Ensemble. He was in demand as a guest conductor, saxophone soloist, clinician, and adjudicator.

In 1971, the Minnesota Orchestra commissioned him to compose a symphonic jazz suite to feature himself on alto saxophone and Clark Terry on trumpet. In 1977, he won the International Neil A. Kjos Memorial Award for the most significant contribution to band literature with a composition for chorus and band entitled Sing a New Song. In 1979, he was commissioned to compose music for the prologue to the film To Fly as well as a trumpet concerto for Doc Severinsen. He is also author of a method book, Total Musicianship, written for concert band, jazz ensemble, and individual study.

Works for Winds