A Man of Firsts - William Henry Fry

This forced break from normal life has likely given all of us some needed time for reflection. Personally, I have gone back to studying and reading about a subject that has interested me for decades: American orchestral music. In that vein, I will be posting regularly about interesting tid bits and pieces you might find interesting!


A Man of Firsts

William Henry Fry (1813-1864) has a lot of “firsts” associated with his music, especially his Santa Claus Symphony, composed in 1853. Not only is it believed to be the first work for large symphony written by an American, it also appears to be the first symphonic use of the saxophone... like anywhere in the world! This single-movement, highly programmatic symphony features many virtuosic solo passages, even a double bass solo. Certainly not a first, but highly rare.


Fry’s other big first was his opera “Leonora”. It was the first American composed opera to be performed in the United States. Very “bel canto” influenced as it is, still a major accomplishment for this American trail blazer.


Thanks for reading!

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