Americana Arcana: What is the Most-Performed American Classical Music?

For performances at pops, family, and children’s concerts, the performing-rights society BMI lists some of its most popular works as John Williams‘ many film suites (especially that from Star Wars), John AdamsShort Ride in a Fast Machine, Michael Daugherty‘s Metropolis Symphony, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich‘s The Peanuts’ Gallery, and William Schuman‘s New England Triptych. ASCAP offers works by George Gershwin, Aaron Copland, and Leonard Bernstein, of course, as well as pieces by Russell Peck and Peter Schickele. (Although unacknowledged in the official biographical information, P.D.Q. Bach is, after all, an American!)

In the all-important realm of school band repertoire, ASCAP lists its most popular composers as including Duke Ellington, Vincent Persichetti, Morton Gould, Peter Schickele, Robert Reynolds (bandmaster at the University of Michigan), as well as Copland (Fanfare for the Common Man) and John Corigliano (Gazebo Dances). BMI lists its top composers for school band as Frank Ticheli, Jack Stamp, Norman Dello Joio, and Dana Wilson, among others.

A quick perusal of the “Editor’s Choice” selections on the Web site of sheet music retailer J.W. Pepper also reveals James Swearingen, Ed Huckeby, Elliot Del Borgo, and Robert Sheldon as among the most popular current composers for school concert bands.

Americana Arcana: What is the Most-Performed American Classical Music?
By Bradley Bambarger
© 2000 NewMusicBox

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