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Category Archives: Bolcom-William

William Bolcom (b. 1938) is a Pulitzer Prize-winning composer and a recently-retired professor at the University of Michigan.  His compositions span many genres, from the wind band to piano works to opera.  He performs alongside his wife, mezzo-soprano Joan Morris, as part of the cabaret duo Bolcom and Morris.  Recently, the University of Michigan Symphony Band premiered his First Symphony for Band.  He also recently (in 2005) won four Grammy Awards for a recording of his setting of Williams Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience on the Naxos label.

William Bolcom’s official website, with many many links, easily the best portal to understanding him on the web.  I’ll append some highlights below:

Interviews and speeches


Complete works list

Bolcom & Morris

And some other stuff:

Printed interview with Bolcom

A podcast interview with some music on

Bolcom’s page on

Bolcom wrote Song (for Band) in 2001 for the retirement of longtime University of Michigan band director H. Robert Reynolds.  The dedication of the piece reads: “In honor of the retirement of H. Robert Reynolds from the directorship of the University of Michigan band, this song is a present for Bob.”

A short sample recording of it is available here by clicking on the speaker icon on the left side.

Here the FSU band performs it (rather slowly in my opinion):

Finally, a response to a comment on the score: “Bandstration realized by MANLY ROMERO”.  The term “bandstration” is often used as a derogatory term for turning other pieces of classical music, most often large orchestral scores, into pieces for band.  So, for example, a version of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma for band would be a bandstration.  I suppose it is starting to have some non-derogatory usage, but to me it still reads like a dig at the supposed inferiority of the wind band medium to that of the symphony orchestra.  My feeling is that the term “orchestration” works just as well for band, since someone who arranges for band is arranging a large number of instrumental parts in a (hopefully) colorful and interesting manner, just as one would if arranging for orchestra.  So here is a history of wind band instrumentation for the intrepid reader, to help you understand where the conventions of wind band instrumentation have come from.  If you’ve ever wondered what a contrabass sarrusophone looked like, here is your answer!