Lucien Cailliet

Lucien Cailliet (May 22, 1891 January 3, 1985)[1] was a French-American composer, conductor, arranger and clarinetist.


Born at Dijon, in France, Cailliet studied at the Conservatory in his native city before migrating to the United States in 1918.

Cailliet worked as staff arranger for the Philadelphia Orchestra. During this time, he founded the Cherry Hill Wind Symphony, which would later become the Wind Symphony of Southern New Jersey.

Cailliet is well known among wind musicians for his faithful arrangements of orchestral music for wind ensemble. In particular, his arrangements of Elsa's Procession to the Cathedral (from Wagner's opera Lohengrin) and Finlandia (a symphonic poem by Jean Sibelius) have become staples of the wind ensemble repertory.

Lucien Cailliet served as Associate Conductor of The Allentown Band (Pennsylvania) from 1934 until 1969. During that period, he conducted many of his arrangements on Allentown Band Concerts. In 1938, he dedicated his "Variations on the Theme Pop! Goes the Weasel" to The Allentown Band, an arrangement that continues to be a favorite or both bands and orchestras to this day. The renowned composer and arranger studied at several French music conservatories before graduating from the Dijon Conservatory at age twenty-two. He also received a degree from the National Conservatory in Paris. He was a bandmaster in the French Army and, in 1915, he toured the United States with the French Army Band. In 1919, he joined the Philadelphia Orchestra as a clarinetist, saxophonist, and arranger, where he worked closely with Leopold Stokowski. In 1923, at age thirty-two, Cailliet became an American citizen and continued to play with the Philadelphia Orchestra while attending graduate school at the Philadelphia Musical Academy. After receiving his Doctor of Music Degree in 1937, he moved to California to teach at the University of Southern California. After teaching there for seven years, he decided to devote his time to guest conducting and composing film scores.

In 1933, Cailliet performed Reynaldo Hahn's Sarabande et Theme on bass clarinet with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra. In 1937, he made a new arrangement of Modest Mussorgsky's piano suite Pictures at an Exhibition. Cailliet also orchestrated three piano pieces of Sergei Rachmaninoff: the Serenade No. 5 from Morceaux de fantaisie Opus 3, the Prelude No. 5 in G minor from the 10 preludes of Opus 23, and the Prelude No. 5 in G major from the 13 preludes of Opus 32. He also made several arrangements for clarinet choir that have become staples of the repertoire.

Cailliet also enjoyed a prolific career creating music for films. He contributed to nearly fifty films as either composer or arranger. Among the best known of these films are She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, The Ten Commandments (for which Elmer Bernstein wrote the score), and Gunfight at the O.K. Corral. His most famous orchestration is the virtuoso piece for piano and orchestra Midnight on the Cliffs by the pianist and composer Leonard Pennario, for the Andrew L. Stone's film Julie (1956).

In the 1950s, he lived in Kenosha, Wisconsin where he worked for the musical instrument producer G. Leblanc Company and conducted the Kenosha Symphony Orchestra. He died at Woodland Hills.

Cailliet's name often appears as "Lucien Caillet" on printed music; this was merely a pervasive misspelling, according to the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.

See also


  1. Lucien Cailiet on the French National Library (sources given)

External links

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