Born: May 8, 1906 - Plymouth, Indiana, USA
Died: March 24, 1994 - Los Angeles, California, USA
The American composer, David Van Vactor, received Bachelor of Music (1928) and Master of Music (1935) degrees from Northwestern University. He studied with Arne Oldberg, Mark Wessel, Ernst Nolte, Leo Sowerby, Paul Dukas, Franz Schmidt, and Arnold Schoenberg.
David Van Vactor was the assistant conductor of the Chicago Civic Orchestra (1933-1934) and was both the flute section leader and assistant conductor the Kansas City Philharmonic Orchestra from 1943 to 1947. He served as the conductor of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra from 1947 until 1972. He also appeared as guest conductor with such orchestras as the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra, and the orchestras of Rio de Janeiro and Santiago, Chile.
David Van Vactor composed well over one hundred major works, including seven symphonies, nine concertos, five large pieces for chorus and orchestra, many orchestral, chamber and vocal works, and four pieces for symphonic band. In 1938 his Symphony in D won the Second Annual Competition of the New York Philharmonic|New York Philharmonic-Symphony Society for a major symphonic work by a USA composer (his former teacher Mark Wessel received the sole Honorable Mention in the same competition). The Symphony was premiered on January 19, 1939 by the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra, conducted by the composer. His music was recorded by the conductor William Strickland.
David Van Vactor was Professor Emeritus of Composition and Flute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He taught at the University of Tennessee. His notable students include Gilbert Trythall, Richard Trythall, David P. Sartor, and Jesse Ayers. He died in Los Angeles, California, in 1994.
The David Van Vactor Collection is held by the University of Tennessee Special Collections Library in Knoxville, Tennessee.