Julian Work

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Julian Work
Julian Cassander Work

September 25, 1910
DiedJune 15, 1995
EducationFisk University
Occupation(s)arranger, composer
ParentJohn Wesley Work Jr. (father)
RelativesJohn Wesley Work (grandfather), John Wesley Work III (brother)

Julian Cassander Work (September 25, 1910—June 15, 1995) was an arranger and composer.

Work was born in Nashville, Tennessee, to a family of professional musicians. His grandfather, John Wesley Work (1848-1923) was a composer and arranger for the Fisk Jubilee Singers; his father, John Wesley Work Jr. (1871-1925) was the first African-American collector of folk songs and spirituals, and also a choral director, educator and songwriter; his brother John Wesley Work III (1901-1967) was a composer, educator, choral director, musicologist and scholar of African-American folklore and music; his mother, Agnes Hayes Work, was a singer who also helped train the Fisk Jubilee Singers.[1]

Work studied music with local teacher Mary E. Chamberlain and was involved in musical activities from an early age, participating in neighborhood musical groups and performing as a jazz pianist.[2][1] He studied composition with his brother John Wesley Work III while attending Fisk University, where he majored in sociology.[2][3] By 1929 he had moved to New York City and was playing piano on the radio.[4] He became a staff arranger for CBS Radio, becoming one of the first Black American composers to write music for radio and television.[3] He was also the sole music arranger for the Voice of Firestone on radio and television.[2] Work was also a member of the American Society of Music Arrangers and served on its national board in the mid-1940s.[5]

Work married Kathryn Holliday in 1953.[6] Upon his retirement they moved to Tolland, Massachusetts, where he died.[3]

Partial list of compositions[edit]

  • Wanderlust (1938)[7]
  • Myriorama by Night (orchestra, ca. 1946)[8]
  • Portraits from the Bible (1956)[3]
  • Autumn Walk (wind band, 1957)[3]
  • Processional Hymn (arrangement of "Gaudeamus Igitur" for chorus with band or piano accompaniment, 1957)[1]
  • Driftwood Patterns (wind band, 1961)[3][9]
  • Stand the Storm (1963)[3]
  • Reflections, Poems of Praise[2]
  • Forest Images[2]


  1. ^ a b c Eileen Southern, Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musician (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1982), p. 415.
  2. ^ a b c d e Lucius R. Wyatt, "Composers Corner: Julian C. Work," Black Music Research Newsletter 8, no. 3, p. 5.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g William Burres Garcia and Willie Strong, "Work Family: Julian C(assander), Work," Grove Music Online. (accessed 11 July 2021)
  4. ^ For example, see "Radio Programs for Tuesday, August 20," New York Herald Tribune (August 19, 1929), p. G3.
  5. ^ Marvin, Wanda. ”Arrangers Want Some ‘Cake’ Too; ASMA Will Voice Beefs.” Billboard 56:50 (9 December 1944), 14, 22.
  6. ^ "New York, New York, U.S., Marriage License Indexes, 1907-2018" on Ancestry.com.
  7. ^ "Martinelli Sings Eighth 'Otello, Last of Season", New York Herald Tribune (March 19, 1938), p. 8.
  8. ^ "Anderson Booked with Philharmonic." Los Angeles Times, 3 February 1946 (article gives LA Philharmonic premiere of the work as 7 February 1946).
  9. ^ The work is reviewed in Instrumentalist magazine, June 1961, 64 ("New Music").

External links[edit]