Image of MIT Concert Band MIT Concert Band
MIT Concert Band

In 1948, John Corley was director of the Brookline High School Band when he got a call from MIT’s first full-time professor of music, Klaus Liepmann. The 75-plus students who had not qualified for the MIT orchestra wanted to form a band. Was Corley interested? It was the talent of the students that convinced him to come. For the next 51 years, Corley worked with more than 1,000 MIT students. Any band member from Corley’s time knew of his passion for new music. Band members appreciated his willingness to challenge them and the opportunity to perform new works commissioned for them.

Not many students of the popular Berklee School of Music composition professor know that John Bavicchi started college at MIT studying engineering and management (1940–1942). John Corley formed a special relationship with the one-time MIT student, commissioning a dozen works by him. The MIT Band premiered his Festival Symphony on November 6,1965.

Festival Symphony (Symphony No.1), Opus 51, Sound Recording
John Bavicchi
Recording courtesy of the MIT Lewis Music Library

photo: MIT Museum Collections

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  • We played other Bavicchi pieces when I was there in the early 1970′s. John Bavicchi toured with us one IAP, and John Corley. One piece was especially difficult to understand as well as play. John Corley would ask the audience “How many like it?” and get some tentative hands. Then he’d ask the band, and we started out about as unenthusiastic as the audience. Next he’d introduce the composer! It was fun, and we grew to really liking the music as we played it more.

    7 Jan 11 at 10:11 pm