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Proksch, Bryan J.

Bryan Proksch is associate professor of music history and 2019 Distinguished Faculty Lecturer at Lamar University. His research centers on American band history, the reception and “revival” of Haydn’s music in the early twentieth century, Viennese Classicism, and the history of the trumpet. He has written three books: The Golden Age of American Bands: A Document History (1835–1935) (GIA, 2022), A Sousa Reader: Essays, Interviews, and Clippings (GIA, 2017), and Reviving Haydn: New Appreciations in the Twentieth Century (Rochester, 2015).

Dr. Proksch’s essays have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society (2011), the Journal of Band Research (2020), the Journal of Musicological Research (2009), the Journal of the Arnold Schoenberg Center (2012), the Historic Brass Society Journal (2008, 2011, 2014, and 2015), the International Trumpet Guild Journal (2003, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2016, 2018, and 2020), Texas Music History (2019) and in a variety of books and essay collections. He wrote the entry on Herb Alpert for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. He has spoken at symposia held by the Haydn Festspiele in Eisenstadt, Austria (2011), the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna (2006), York University in Toronto, Canada (2009) and at meetings of the American Musicological Society (2005, 2008, 2013, and 2020), the Society for American Music (2018) and the Historic Brass Society (2008 and 2010).

He is a National Arts Associate of Sigma Alpha Iota music fraternity. In 2007 he received grants from the Avenir Foundation for a month’s residence at the Schönberg Center to study that composer’s aesthetics and analytic techniques. His service includes working as the president of the Southern Chapter of the American Musicological Society (2016-2018), creator and editor of the International Trumpet Guild Journal’s “Repertoire Corner” column, as the newsletter/website editor for the Historic Brass Society, and as the organist and music director at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Lake Charles, Louisiana. He is a Colleague of the American Guild of Organists and holds a Service Playing Certificate from the same organization.

Dr. Proksch hosts a music history show, “Behind the Music,” on 91.3 KVLU Public Radio. The show discusses all sorts of musical styles in an effort to make the history of music fun and accessible to all. It airs Sundays at noon and also streams on KVLU’s website,


Teachable Moments in Band History - Music Education

How connected to music history do you and your students feel? The views of key figures (Fennell, Sousa, Gilmore, King, Clarke, Dodworth, Simon, and more) can give you and your students solutions to band life’s problems big and small! Come learn from the horse’s mouth about how to deal with programming, instrumentation, venues, presidential politics, angry band moms, and much more in this session presenting key documents and writings from the first century of band history (1835–1935).

The True History of Bands and Diversity - Music Education

Today we all strive for diversity in the band room, but how much do we really know about the ways in which bands historically created problems or offered solutions? This session will look at pivotal moments from 1835–1935 when race, gender, religion, nationality, class, and immigration status came to the forefront in American band culture. These, including positive instances to the contrary, all will be laid bare using documents from the period in an effort to learn from history and foster a stronger sense of connection and unity between us and our students.

Evolutionary Trends in Band Instrumentation - Music Education

While we all take for granted that we know what a “concert band” or a “wind ensemble” means in terms of instrumentation, how well do you know why things turned out the way they did? This session will answer the big questions: why trumpets instead of cornets or keyed bugles? How could anyone justify letting saxophones into band? Can there ever be enough clarinets? Who kicked out the strings? We’ll search the archives and present the influential thinkers and writers in band history who made these choices for us over a century ago!

How Great Bandmasters of the Past Chose Their Repertoire - Music Education

Ever wondered how the likes of a Sousa, a Gilmore, or any other professional band leader attracted huge audiences year-in and year-out through their repertoire choices? In this session we will look at real programs from concerts ranging from 1835–1935 in an effort to see what constituted a program that would “sell.” Along the way we’ll read the letters and business papers of these leaders in order to see the reasoning behind their choices and how they tailored their programs to different kinds of audiences by region and taste and across different mediums (outdoor, indoor, in-person, radio, recordings, etc.).