Harding, Albert Austin, 1880-1958

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Director of University Bands, University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign campus).

From the description of Papers, 1895-1958. (University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign). WorldCat record id: 28410436

Albert Austin Harding was asked to direct the University of Illinois Band by the head of the School of Music in the spring of 1905 while he was still a senior in the College of Engineering. Harding accepted and was officially a member of the faculty in the fall of 1905. To Harding, the position was only a temporary arrangement, as his goal at the time was to become a municipal and sanitary engineer. After two years of conducting the band, Harding was officially appointed the first Director of Bands in 1907, a position he held until his retirement in 1948. With this appointment Illinois became the first university to create a distinct band department under a director of bands. Harding eventually went on to earn a full professorship in music, making him the first band director on an American campus to hold this rank.

Professor Harding expanded the traditional roles of bands at military ceremonies and sporting events and added a great emphasis on concert band music and transcriptions of symphonic and chamber pieces. The professionalism and musicianship of the University of Illinois Bands under Harding were legend and became the standard to which other colleges and universities aspired.

Harding enjoyed a very close personal and professional relationship with the legendary bandmaster, John Philip Sousa. In the 1920s Sousa dubbed the University of Illinois Band "the world's greatest college concert band." On March 20, 1930, the band performed a concert with Sousa as its guest conductor. At the concert, Sousa dedicated his "University of Illinois March" to the faculty, students, and alumni. Upon his death in 1932, Sousa left his vast library and treasured mementoes to the University of Illinois as a gesture of his high esteem for Harding and his band. The Sousa collection is now housed in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music located in the Harding Band Building, named in honor of Albert Austin Harding and dedicated in 1958. In addition to Sousa, the University of Illinois Band had many other guest conductors while under Harding's direction. Among these were Edwin Franko Goldman, Henry Fillmore, Frank Simon, Harold Bachman, Guy Holmes, and Victor Grabel.

Harding was a charter member of the American Bandmasters Association and served as its president in 1937-38. In 1956, he was elected to succeed John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman as Honorary Life President. Harding was honorary life president of the College Band Directors National Association. Harding was among the founding members of the Alpha Xi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Mr. Harding died on December 3, 1958.

From the guide to the A. Austin Harding Family Papers, 1892-1952, (The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music)

Albert Austin Harding was asked to direct the University of Illinois Band by the head of the School of Music in the spring of 1905 while he was still a senior in the College of Engineering. Harding accepted and was officially a member of the faculty in the fall of 1905. To Harding, the position was only a temporary arrangement, as his goal at the time was to become a municipal and sanitary engineer. After two years of conducting the band, Harding was officially appointed the first Director of Bands in 1907, a position he held until his retirement in 1948. With this appointment Illinois became the first university to create a distinct band department under a director of bands. Harding eventually went on to earn a full professorship in music, making him the first band director on an American campus to hold this rank.

Professor Harding expanded the traditional roles of bands at military ceremonies and sporting events and added a great emphasis on concert band music and transcriptions of symphonic and chamber pieces. The professionalism and musicianship of the University of Illinois Bands under Harding were legend and became the standard to which other colleges and universities aspired.

Harding enjoyed a very close personal and professional relationship with the legendary bandmaster, John Philip Sousa. In the 1920s Sousa dubbed the University of Illinois Band "the world's greatest college concert band." On March 20, 1930, the band performed a concert with Sousa as its guest conductor. At the concert, Sousa dedicated his "University of Illinois March" to the faculty, students, and alumni. Upon his death in 1932, Sousa left his vast library and treasured mementoes to the University of Illinois as a gesture of his high esteem for Harding and his band. The Sousa collection is now housed in the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music located in the Harding Band Building, named in honor of Albert Austin Harding and dedicated in 1958. In addition to Sousa, the University of Illinois Band had many other guest conductors while under Harding's direction. Among these were Edwin Franko Goldman, Henry Fillmore, Frank Simon, Harold Bachman, Guy Holmes, and Victor Grabel.

Harding was a charter member of the American Bandmasters Association and served as its president in 1937-38. In 1956, he was elected to succeed John Philip Sousa and Edwin Franko Goldman as Honorary Life President. Harding was honorary life president of the College Band Directors National Association. Harding was among the founding members of the Alpha Xi chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. Mr. Harding died on December 3, 1958.

From the guide to the A. Austin Harding Papers, 1895-1958, (The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Harding, Albert Austin, 1880-1958. Papers, 1895-1958. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
referencedIn Hindsley, Mark H. (Mark Hubert). Papers, 1920-1983. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign
creatorOf A. Austin Harding Family Papers, 1892-1952 The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
creatorOf A. Austin Harding Papers, 1895-1958 The Sousa Archives and Center for American Music
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
correspondedWith Alford, Harry L. person
associatedWith Bellstedt, Herman. person
correspondedWith Busch, Carl, 1862-1943 person
correspondedWith Clarke, Herbert L. (Herbert Lincoln), 1867-1945 person
correspondedWith Goldman, Edwin Franko, 1878-1956 person
correspondedWith Grainger, Percy, 1882-1961 person
associatedWith Hindsley, Mark H. (Mark Hubert) person
associatedWith Lake, Mayhew, 1879-1955. person
correspondedWith Maddy, Joseph E. (Joseph Edgar), 1891-1966 person
correspondedWith McAllister, A. R. person
correspondedWith Simon, Frank, 1889-1967 person
associatedWith Strauss, Richard, 1864-1949. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Michigan
Illinois
Urbana (Ill.)
United States
Interlochen (Mich.)
Subject
Bands (Music)
Universities and colleges--Alumni and alumnae--Societies, etc
Auditions
Bandmasters--Societies, etc
Band Department
Orchestral music
Band musicians
American Bandmasters Association
Music education
Music--Competitions
Band Buildings
Universities and colleges
Music--Performance
Band Concerts
Band, Football
Music--Instruction and study
Orchestra
National Music Camp (Interlochen, MI)
Trade and professional associations
Musical instruments
Bands
Band Clinics
Arrangement (music)
bandmasters
College buildings
Music camps
Concerts
Band theory
Occupation
Collector
Bandmasters--Illinois
College teachers--Illinois
Music teachers--Illinois
Function

Person

Birth 1880-02-10

Death 1958-12-03

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