The American composer, Thom Ritter George, discovered his great interest in music, particularly composition and orchestral conducting, as a boy growing up in Detroit, Michigan. He wrote his first composition when he was 10 years old and conducted his first orchestral concert at the age of 17. During his high school years, he was a composition student of Harold Laudenslager, a pupil of Paul Hindemith. George entered the Eastman School of Music in 1960 and studied composition with Thomas Canning, Louis Mennini, Wayne Barlow, John LaMontaine, and Bernard Rogers. His first published works date from this period of conservatory study and include his Sonata for Baritone Horn and Piano, Concerto for Bass Trombone and Orchestra, Hymn and Toccata (band), Brass Quintet No. 1, Proclamations (band), and Concerto for Flute and Orchestra.
After earning Bachelor's (1964) and Master's (1968) degrees from the Eastman School, Thom Ritter George accepted an appointment as Composer/Arranger for the United State Navy Band in Washington, D.C. During his military service, he also conducted the United States Navy Band in performances both in Washington and on tour. He was a frequent performer at The White House during the administration of President Lyndon B. Johnson. George's Washington years marked the creation of his Western Overture (band), Sinfonietta (orchestra), Six Canonic Sonatas, Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, and Sonata for Flute and Piano. These last two titles were additions to his series of sonatas written for every orchestra instrument.
When at the Eastman School of Music, Thom Ritter George was a member of the conducting class of Dr. Paul White, Associate Conductor of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra. Dr. George continued his training in Washington, D.C. with Lloyd Geisler, Associate Conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra.
After completing his Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Catholic University of America in 1970, Thom Ritter George was appointed Music Director and Conductor of the Quincy Symphony Orchestra (Quincy, Illinois). While serving in Quincy, George did advanced conducting studies with Boris Goldovsky (opera conducting) and Sir Georg Solti, Conductor Laureate of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. New scores continued to come from his Quincy desk: First Suite in F (band), The People, Yes (soloists, chorus, and orchestra), Pastorale (flute and organ), the two ballets Four Games (orchestra) and Erica (orchestra), Sextet (euphonium and woodwinds), and Brass Quintet No. 4.
Thom Ritter George came to Idaho in 1983 as Conductor of the Idaho State Civic Symphony. He led the Idaho State Civic Symphony in more than 200 programs featuring a wide repertoire and many internationally recognized artists. To celebrate its 60th anniversary, the orchestra commissioned George to create his Concerto No. 3 for Piano and Orchestra which was premiered in April 1995 under the composer's direction. Other significant works from his Idaho period include Second Suite in C (band), Suite for String Orchestra ("On Old English Songs"), Sonata for Trumpet and Piano, Sonata for Alto Trombone and Piano, Violin Sonata No. 3, Piano Sonata No. 3, Six American Folk Songs (flute and piano), Second Rhapsody for Orchestra ("Westward Journey"), Trio No. 1 (violin, violoncello, and piano), and Tubamobile. His Orpheus (soloists, chorus, and large orchestra) was created for the opening of the Stephens Performing Arts Center at Idaho State University. Recent compositions include Legend (flute and orchestra) and the Concerto for Horn.
As a composer, Thom Ritter George has won the Edward B. Benjamin Prize, two Howard Hanson Awards, the Seventh Sigvald Thompson Award, and has received annual awards from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers since 1965 for his contributions to American music. He has composed more than 350 works, many of which are recorded. His compositions are published by Boosey and Hawkes, G. Schirmer, Southern Music Company, Accura Music, Shawnee Press, and TUBA Press.
Thom Ritter George is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity, The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, National Band Association, and the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). He is listed in many references including Who's Who in America, the World Who's Who of Musicians (Cambridge, England), and Bernard Garaude's Dictionary of Conductors (Toulouse, France). In 1973, he received the Quincy College Citation for Meritorious Service. The Pocatello Music Club honored George in 1988 with their award "For Community Service Through Musical Excellence." George was honored with the "Excellence in the Arts" award by Governor Phil Batt and the State of Idaho at the Governor's Awards for the Arts ceremony in October 1998. From the City of Pocatello, George received the "Lifetime Achievement Award" at the "Mayor's Award for the Arts" celebration in October 2005.
Thom Ritter George's compositions have been played by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Houston Symphony Orchestra, Memphis, Eastman-Rochester orchestras, and other major ensembles in the USA and abroad. Since 2007, George has been engaged solely in orchestral guest conducting and composition.