Claude T. Smith was born in Monroe City, Missouri on March 14, 1932. He began his undergraduate degree at Central Methodist College in Fayette, Missouri, eventually enlisting in 1952 and serving in the 371st U.S. Army Band during the Korean War. After his service, he completed his Bachelor of Music Education degree at the University of Kansas in Lawrence.
Smith composed over 180 works for band, orchestra, choir, solos, small ensembles as well as three method books for band and orchestra. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by leading musical organizations throughout the world including the U.S. Air Force Band, the “President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, the U.S. Navy Band, and the U.S. Army Field Band. His solos were written for noted artists such as “Doc” Severinsen, Dale Underwood, Brian Bowman, Warren Covington, Gary Foster, Rich Matteson, and Steve Seward.
Smith was first published in 1964 with his work for band Emperata Overture. This led to many other works being published by Jenson Publications, Inc. (now Hal Leonard) and Wingert-Jones Music, Inc. where he was also an educational consultant. His composition Flight was adopted in 1984 as the “Official March” of the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institute. His orchestral works were written for many ensembles, including the Kansas City (MO) Youth Symphony, South Bend (IN) Youth Symphony, Springfield (MO) Symphony Orchestra, and the 1981 Missouri All-State String Orchestra.
Smith taught instrumental music in the public schools of Nebraska and Missouri. He also served as a member of the faculty of Southwest Missouri State University in Springfield where he taught composition and theory, and conducted the University Symphony Orchestra. Sacred music was also a deep passion of Smith as he directed church choirs for five years in Cozad (NE), 10 years in Chillicothe (MO), and 10 years in Kansas City (MO).
Smith was active as a clinician and guest conductor throughout the United States, Australia, Canada, and Europe. He received many awards for his contributions to music education and for his work in composition including numerous ASCAP Composers Award. Following his death, he was awarded the National Band Association Academy of Wind and Percussion Arts (AWAPA) Award (1987), honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Central Methodist College (1988), Missouri Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame (1988), Kappa Kappa Psi Distinguished Service to Music Medal (1988), Missouri Music Educators Association Hall of Fame (1992), and named School Director of the Year from the Christian Instrumental Directors Association (1994).
Smith was a member of the Music Educators National Conference (now NAfME), Missouri Bandmasters Association, National Band Association, American Bandmasters Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia and served as past president of the Missouri Music Educators Association.
Claude T. Smith passed away on December 13, 1987 in Kansas City, Missouri having completed a Christmas Concert at church. His wife, Maureen Faye Smith and his daughter, Pam Smith Kelly, along with Pam’s husband, Jim, founded Claude T. Smith Publications, Inc. in 1993, and C.L. Barnhouse Co. became the exclusive distributor for his instrumental works in 2016 with the mission of keeping the music of Claude T. Smith alive and in the hearts of musicians worldwide.