Born: July 20, 1895 - South Holland, Illinois, USA
Died: June 15, 1976 - Muskegon, Michigan, USA
The American choral conductor and teacher, Henry Veld was born in South Holland, Illinois. His father played clarinet in the village band, and Veld began studying the organ at 6. Following his interest in music, he studied theory and composition at Chicago Music College, now Roosevelt College. He went on to train in New York under voice instructors William Brady and Oscar Seagle. He earned a bachelor's degree in music education from Augustana College in Rock Island, Illinois. He married Alice VanZanten on August 15, 1935, in Holland, Michigan; the couple had two children.
In 1929, Henry Veld was offered a job at Augustana College. His first duty was to conduct the girls' choir, first called the Oriole Choir and then known as the Jenny Lind Chorus, but he was soon asked to help reorganize the men's glee club, the Wennerberg Chorus, which had disbanded. In 1931, Veld joined the men's and women's choirs into one during a concert and established the Augustana Choir.
Also in 1931, Henry Veld began conducting the Handel Oratorio Society, a choral society comprised of Quad City community members and local college students. During Veld's tenure, the Handel Oratorio Society chorus grew from 125 members to 350, the maximum number that would fit on the stage in Centennial Hall.
During his tenure at Augustana, Henry Veld took the Augustana Choir on annual tours where they sang in 33 of the USA, three Canadian provinces, and five European countries. In 1955, the choir appeared on Ed Sullivan's "Toast of the Town" television program where they sang "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning," from the musical Oklahoma!, in Swedish. The Augustana Choir also made several recordings for RCA during Veld's years as conductor. Veld remained on the faculty at Augustana College for 37 years and was known as one of the leading conductors in the USA.
In addition to the Augustana College choirs, Henry Veld conducted many other choirs during his career including Chicago's prestigious Apollo Chorus; two choruses at the American University in Shrivenham, England during World War II; and a 2,000 voice choir for the opening session of the World Council of Churches Assembly in Soldier's Field in Chicago. In 1948 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Bethany College.
Henry Veld retired from Augustana in 1966, but continued conducting at various posts including as visiting professor-conductor at Bethany College in Kansas, Carthage College in Wisconsin, Hamline University in Minnesota, and Fresno State in California. He died after a brief illness in 1976 in Muskegon, Michigan. In 1980, the Henry Veld Chair in Music was created in his honour. This endowed chair was only the third in the history of Augustana College.