On Veteran's Day, let's recognize a few composers who served in the militaries of their respective countries. A native of Australia, pianist and composer Percy Aldridge Grainger moved to the U. S. in 1914 and served as a bandsman in the Coast Artillery Corps of the US Army in 1917 and 1918, also becoming an American citizen in '18. That's Grainger in the center of the photo, holding his alto saxophone; he also doubled on oboe. One of the works Grainger wrote during his service, the "Children's March", comes up in a performance by "The President's Own" United States Marine Band during the 11:00 hour Friday morning on WFCR.
For Nikolai Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov, the military was a family tradition. Entering naval college at 12, starting piano lessons during his term there in order, according to his brother Voin, the head of the college, to overcome shyness. He completed his first symphony during stopovers on a two-and-a-half year cruise aboard the clipper Almaz, and later served as inspector of military bands in St. Petersburg. It is to the last period that we owe his Concerto for Trombone, one of the most frequently performed works for the neglected instrument.
I couldn't find any images from Albert Roussel's seven-year service in the French navy, though one can hear the influence of the foreign lands he visited in the works Roussel produced in the years following his decision, at age 25, to make music his career. Despite the late start, Roussel went on to become a successful and admired composer in the vanguard of the lean and lively style known as "neo-classicism".
Who's that above on the left, in the company of legendary Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Serge Koussevitzky? None other than Army Air Force Corporal Samuel Barber. He and "Koussy" were no doubt discussing Barber's "Flight Symphony" (Symphony No. 2), which the BSO premiered in 1944. Barber later revised the work, and still later ordered all copies of it destroyed, though fortunately, performing parts were later discovered, allowing the work to be reconstructed. Less ambitious and more successful was Corporal Barber's "Commando March", which comes up during the 11:00 hour Veteran's Day morning on WFCR. Thanks to all who have served.