Pryor, Arthur (Willard)

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Pryor, Arthur (Willard)

Pryor, Arthur (Willard) , American trombonist, conductor, and composer; b. St. Joseph, Mo., Sept. 22, 1870; d. Long Branch, N.J., June 18, 1942. He began his professional career in 1889 as a performer on the slide trombone. When Sousa formed his own band in 1892, he hired Pryor as his trombone soloist; from 1895 until he left to form his own band in 1903, Pryor was asst. conductor for Sousa. Pryor’s Band gave its first major concert at the Majestic Theatre in N.Y. on Nov. 15, 1903, but beginning in 1904 it initiated series of summer outdoor concerts at Asbury Park, Coney Island, and other amusement parks. From 1903 to 1909 it made six coast-to-coast tours. Unlike Sousa, who had little to do with “canned music,” Pryor was quick to take advantage of the developing recording industry; he made some 1,000 acoustic recordings before 1930. He also entered upon a series of commercial radio broadcasts. He composed about 300 works, including operettas, ragtime and Cakewalk tunes, and novelties such as The Whistler and His Dog, Pryor’s best-known work. He was a charter member of ASCAP in 1914 and of the American Ban/Dennis McIntireasters Assn. in 1929. In 1933 he retired to Long Branch.


D. Frizane, A. P. (1870–1942) American Trombonist, Ban/Dennis McIntireaster, Composer (diss., Univ. of Kans., 1984).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire