The American composer, arranger, conductor and editor, Alfred Reed, was born in Manhattan. His life was intertwined with music almost from birth. His parents loved good music and made it part of their daily lives; as a result he was well acquainted with most of the standard symphonic and operatic repertoire while Reed was still in elementary school. Beginning formal music training at the age of 10 as a trumpet player, he was already playing professionally while still in high school, and shortly thereafter began the serious study of harmony and counterpoint (theory and harmony with John Sacco, and later as a scholarship student of Paul Yartin).as a prelude to composition, which had come to exercise a stronger hold on his interest and ambition than playing.
After three years at the Radio Workshop in New York, Alfred Reed spent the next three in service during World War II, where, as a member of an Air Force Band, he became deeply interested in the concert band and its music. Following his release, he enrolled at the Juilliard School of Music to study under Vittorio Giannini, and from there, in 1948, became a staff composer and arranger with NBC and subsequently, with ABC, where he wrote and arranged music for radio, television, record albums and films.
In 1953, Alfred Reed resumed his academic work (which had been interrupted by his leaving Juilliard for NBC) and became conductor of the Baylor Symphony Orchestra (1953-1966) while at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, where he received his B.M. in 1955 and his M.M. in 1956. His Masters thesis was the "Rhapsody for Viola and Orchestra", which was to win the Luria Prize in 1959. The work received its first performance in 1959, and was subsequently published in 1966. Reed was a member of the Beta Tau Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, the national fraternity for men in music.
During his two years at Baylor, Alfred Reed also became interested in the problems of educational music at all levels of performance, especially in the development of repertoire materials for school bands, orchestras, and choruses. This led, in 1955, to his accepting the post of executive editor of Hansen Publications, a major music publishing firm in New York, and for the next 11 years was deeply concerned with the problems of educational music. He left this position in 1966 to become a professor of music in the School of Music at the University of Miami (where he worked with composer and arranger Robert Longfield) from 1966 to 1993. He held there a joint appointment in the Theory-Composition and Music Education departments, and was chairman of the department of Music Media and Industry and director of the Music Industry Program at the time of his retirement. He established the very first college-level four-year Music Industry program at the University of Miami in 1966, which led other colleges and universities to follow suit. In 1980, following the retirement of his old friend and colleague, Dr. Frederick Fennell, was appointed music director and conductor of the University of Miami Symphonic Wind Ensemble.
Alfred Reed was one of America's most prolific and frequently performed composers, with more than 250 published works for concert band, wind ensemble, orchestra, chorus, and and various smaller chamber music groups to his name. In addition to winning the Luria Prize in 1959, he has been awarded over 60 commissions… with more on the way! At the time of his death, he had composition commissions that would have taken him to the age of 115! He also wrote a multitude of 3-minute musical sequences for sound-track library recordings. His work as a guest conductor and clinician has taken him to 49 states, Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, Australia and South America, and for many years, al least eight of his works have been on the required list of music for all concert bands in Japan, where he is the most frequently performed foreign composer today. He was the first “foreign” conductor to be invited to conduct and record with the world famous Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra. He left New York for Miami, Florida, in 1960, where he made his home until his death.