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Albert Austin Harding

Albert Austin Harding
1880–1958
Inducted in 2021

Albert Austin Harding became the first University of Illinois director of bands in 1907 and served in that role until his retirement in 1948. Upon Harding's appointment, Illinois became the first university to create a distinct band department under a director of bands. Harding, who graduated in the spring of 1905 from the College of Engineering, eventually earned a full professorship in music at the University of Illinois. Over the span of his career, Harding expanded the traditional roles of bands at military ceremonies and sporting events and added a great emphasis on concert band music and transcriptions of symphonic and chamber pieces. The Concert Band became well known outside of campus through annual spring tours and weekly radio broadcasts that were well established by 1927. Band concerts in the University Auditorium were popular and well attended by students, faculty, and the community. The professionalism and musicianship of the University of Illinois Bands under Harding became the standard to which other colleges and universities aspired. John Philip Sousa called the Concert Band "the world's greatest college band."