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Ask The Answer Person: "Did Luther College commission 'Festive Overture' by Dmitri Shostakovich?"

Posted: Wed, Mar 4, 2020 2:44 PM

David e-mails: "I recently heard the Western Washington University Band play 'Festive Overture, written by Dmitri Shostakovich.  The program notes said the piece was commissioned by Luther College in 1954."

The Answer Person says: "We contacted Western Washington University and discovered Luther College has had nothing to do with "Festive Overture!"  The university sent us the program notes from the concert you attended.

The notes say Luther College commissioned the SECOND piece from the WWU Concert.  'The Passing Bell' was written by composer Warren Benson in 1974 'on a commission from the Luther College Concert Band.'  According to the concert notes. the music 'is a memorial to (Luther College's) clarinetist and concertmaster, a Norwegian student named Dennis Rathjen, who died after a brief illness.'

While it's too bad Luther College can't claim a connection to a very famous composer, it's interesting to hear that one of the pieces it has commissioned is being performed on the West Coast."