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Al Wright papers

 Collection 0072-SCPA

The Al G. Wright (1916-2020) collection contains correspondence, programs, articles, notes, scores, and photographs documenting Wright's career as Director of Bands at Purdue University between 1954 and 1981, and his involvement in a variety of wind band organizations.


  • 1905-1990
  • Majority of material found within 1955-1990

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:


6.50 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Al Wright papers cover the period from 1905 to 1991; the bulk of the materials date from 1955 to 1990. The papers consist of both personal and professional papers, correspondence, contracts, programs, monographs, scores, and photographs relating to Wright's career, and in particular, to his role as conductor of the Purdue University Bands.


The conductor, educator, and composer Al Wright (b. 1916 - d. 2020) was born in London, England, and attended public school in Pontiac, Michigan. In high school he was recruited to play french horn in the band. He went on to earn bachelors (1937) and masters (1947) degrees from the University of Miami in Florida. While in Florida he served as director of the Miami Senior High School Band and Symphony Orchestra (1938-1954), co-directed the Orange Bowl half-time show, and served as President of the Florida Orchestra Association, the Florida Bandmasters Association, and the Florida Music Educators Association.

In 1954 he joined the faculty of Purdue University as Director of Bands, a position he held until retirement in 1981. Under his direction, the Purdue Band developed a show band style with a high step marching in intricate formations with twirlers and dancers. This led to high profile performances at Radio City Music Hall and tours around the world.

Throughout his tenure at Purdue, Wright continued to be active in professional associations. He founded the National Band Association (NBA) in 1961 and served as its President, Secretary-Treasurer, and Honorary Life President. He served as President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board for the John Philip Sousa Foundation. He founded the United States Collegiate Wind Bands.

He was inducted into the American Bandmasters Association in 1949. In 1980 he was elected President of that organization, the same year that he received an Honorary Doctorate from Troy State University. Wright has published more than 150 monographs and magazine articles, and his work on marching band shows is widely admired. Wright has published music under the name George Stone.

  1. 1916 Born in London, England, 23 June
  2. 1933 Graduated High School, Pontiac Michigan
  3. 1937 B.A. in Public School Music, University of Miami
  4. 1938 Married Marie Farmer
  5. 1939-1954 Director of Music, Miami Senior High School
  6. 1947 M. Ed., University of Miami
  7. 1946-1947 President, Florida Bandmasters Association
  8. 1949 Elected to American Bandmasters Association
  9. 1951-1953 President, Florida Music Educators Association
  10. 1953 Married Gladys Violet Stone
  11. 1954-1981 Director of Bands, Purdue University
  12. 1961 Founding President, National Band Association
  13. 1980 L.L.D (honorary), Troy State University, Alabama
  14. 1981 President, American Bandmasters Association
  15. 1981 Awarded Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service Medal
  16. 2016 Al and Gladys Wright awarded the Midwest Clinic Lifetime Achievement Award
  17. 2020 Dies in West Lafayette, Indiana, 5 September


This collection is organized into five series.

  1. Documents
  2. Travel
  3. Books
  4. Scores
  5. Photographs

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Gift of Al Wright, received in one shipment in September 2004.

Related Material

The Al Wright papers are part of the American Bandmasters Association Research Center.

• Neidig, Kenneth L. The Band Director's Guide. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964. (Also found in the UMCP Performing Arts Library Stacks; MT733 .N33)

• Wright, Al G. and Stanley Newcomb. Bands of the World. Evanston, I.L.: The Instrumentalist Co., 1970. (Also found in UMCP Performing Arts Library Reference and Lowens Special Collections Room; ML1300 .W68)

Al Wright papers
Processed by Amanda Holgate, February 2009.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

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