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John O'Reilly papers

 Collection 0329-SCPA

The John O’Reilly Papers include sketches, holograph scores, program notes, and recordings documenting the composer’s nearly 50-year career writing music. The materials date from 1961 to 2017, with the bulk of the material from 1980 to 2010. The first series, Biographical Material, includes a 22-page autobiographical account of O’Reilly’s career with an emphasis on compositions included in the papers. The second series contains holograph scores and composition notes for thirty-four works, including early student works, and more recent contributions to the repertoire. The works include relatively well-known compositions like North Star Overture, as well as lesser known and student works. In the third series, published scores, manuscript scores, and recordings are grouped together, allowing patrons to listen to the music and study the score simultaneously. Altogether, the O’Reilly papers provide a window into the working methods and career trajectory of a late 20th century composer in the U.S., with a particular focus on music for band music in the educational setting.


  • 1961-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1980 - 2015

Condition Description

Excellent. Many of the score holographs are folded in half and will require moderate conservation treatment. Audio CDs are home-burned and will require born digital ingest.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to the public and must be used in the Lowens Room for Special Collections in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright was not transferred to the University of Maryland with the physical gift of the materials. The creators or their heirs retain any copyright possessed in the collection. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act


3 Linear Feet

Biographical / Historical

John O'Reilly (1940- ) is an American composer, editor, and director. Many beginning band students first encounter his work through his co-authorship of four methods book series: Alfred’s Basic Band Method (1977-2009); Yamaha Band Student (1987-1988); Accent on Achievement (1997-1999); and Strictly Strings (1992-2010). His pieces for student band ensemble include North Star Overture (1982), Stratford Overture (1973), or In Memorium (1994); these range in difficulty from beginner to advanced repertoire. Altogether, O'Reilly's catalogue of original works encompasses 500 works (approximately 100 of them co-composed with Sandy Feldstein). After graduating from Crane School of Music, SUNY Potsdam, with a B.S. in Music Education, O'Reilly spent several years teaching band and theory in the public school system. In 1964 he received his B.A. in Music Composition and Theory from Columbia University. From 1968 to 1972, O'Reilly taught theory at Nassau Community College; at the same time, he was publishing band compositions with Alfred. By 1973 he was working full-time as an editor for Alfred Publishing, and became editor-in-chief and Executive Vice-President in charge of school publications in 1976. O'Reilly remained at Alfred until 2008, when he retired. Throughout his tenure at Alfred, O'Reilly continued to publish works for band, many of them pedagogical pieces in series books. In 1991, O'Reilly was elected in the category of "composer" to the American Bandmasters Association, among the most prestigious professional organizations in the band community.

Custodial History

All items in the John O'Reilly Papers were donated by the composer to Special Collections in Performing Arts in the summer of 2018.

Condition Description

Excellent. Many of the score holographs are folded in half and will require moderate conservation treatment. Audio CDs are home-burned and will require born digital ingest.

The John O'Reilly papers
Christina Taylor Gibson
June 2019
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States