Page of a manuscript by William Henry Fry (1813-1864), the United States’ first symphonic composer. The student of a bandmaster from Napoleon’s army, Fry was active as a musician and journalist in his native Philadelphia and also traveled and lectured in Europe. He wrote symphonies, choral music, and other works; among his innovations were the use of 11 timpani to imitate the roar of Niagara Falls, and, in this particular score, possibly the first orchestral use of the saxophone only a few years after its invention.

Page of a manuscript by William Henry Fry (1813-1864), the United States’ first symphonic composer. The student of a bandmaster from Napoleon’s army, Fry was active as a musician and journalist in his native Philadelphia and also traveled and lectured in Europe. He wrote symphonies, choral music, and other works; among his innovations were the use of 11 timpani to imitate the roar of Niagara Falls, and, in this particular score, possibly the first orchestral use of the saxophone only a few years after its invention.

10 July 2012 ·

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    I’m not sure that Fry is the US’s first symphonic composer (depending on how you define “symphonic”). Anthony Philip...
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Curtis Lindsay
Pianist, composer,
expert in nonsense.



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