A native of Joliet, Illinois, Ron Nelson*
was born December 14, 1929. He received his bachelor of music degree
in 1952, the master’s degree in 1953, and the doctor of musical arts
degree in 1957, all from the Eastman School of Music at the
University of Rochester. He studied in France at the Ecole Normale
de Musique and at the Paris Conservatory under a Fulbright Grant in
1955. Dr. Nelson joined the Brown University faculty the following
year, and taught there until his retirement in 1993.
In 1991, Dr. Nelson was awarded the Acuff Chair of Excellence in the
Creative Arts, the first musician to hold the chair. In 1993, his
Passacaglia (Homage on B-A-C-H) made history by winning all three
major wind band compositions – the National Association Prize, the
American Bandmasters Association Ostwald Prize, and the Sudler
International Prize. He was awarded the Medal of Honor of the John
Philip Sousa Foundation in Washington, DC in 1994. In 2006, he
was awarded an honorary doctorate from Oklahoma City University.
Dr. Nelson has received numerous commissions, including those from
the National Symphony Orchestra, Rochester Philharmonic, the USAF
Band and Chorus, Rhode Island Philharmonic, Aspen Music Festival,
Brevard Music Center, Musashino Wind Ensemble, and countless
colleges and universities. He has also received grants and awards
from The Rockefeller Foundation, the Howard Foundation, ASCAP, and
several from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Dr. Nelson has appeared as guest composer/conductor at a large
number of colleges and universities, including Illinois, Yale, North
Texas State, Western Michigan, Sam Houston, Lawrence, Dartmouth,
Southern Maine, CalTech, MIT, and Princeton.
Ron Nelson currently resides with his wife Michele in Scottsdale,
*He should not be confused with Ronald
A. Nelson, an arranger/composer of choral music.