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Clifton Williams (1923-1976) was born in Arkansas and attended high school in Little Rock, where he became an accomplished french horn player. He studied composition at Lousiana State University and the Eastman School of Music. He taught composition for 17 years at the University of Texas at Austin before becoming chair of the composition and theory department at the University of Miami in 1966.  He held this post until his untimely death.  His first compositions were written for orchestra.  His career as a wind band composer took off in 1956 when Fanfare and Allegro, his first composition for band, won the inaugural Ostwald Award given by the American Bandmasters’ Association.  His Symphonic Suite won him the award again the following year.  He went on to write over 3 dozen works for band, many of which are considered essential repertoire.

Williams wrote the 5-movement Symphonic Suite in 1957.  It is dedicated to L. Bruce Jones, who was the band director at Louisiana State University at the time.  The piece uses one primary theme which is treated in a different style in each movement.  For an in-depth harmonic, formal, and thematic analysis of the piece, you can look at a paper I wrote on the subject: Symphonic Suite (don’t forget to check out the musical examples! symphonic suite examples).

Now here it is in performance by some anonymous, professional-sounding band:

Clifton Williams and Symphonic Suite at

Clifton Williams bio at Wikipedia.

Clifton Williams on the Ostwald Award site.

Clifton Williams at the Wind Repertory Project.

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  1. […] Symphonic Suite by Clifton Williams […]

  2. […] where he received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, studying composition with Clifton Williams.  The early part of his career saw him playing timpani with the Austin Symphony, and later playing […]

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