Born in 1913 into a long line of Italian musicians, Norman Dello Joio followed quickly in his family’s footsteps.  His father was an opera coach and organist; by age 12, young Norman was substituting for his father on organ jobs.  He went to Juilliard on scholarship, where he shifted his focus from the organ to composition, studying with Paul Hindemith.  He wrote for a wide range of ensembles and won accolades from all corners of the music world, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1957 and an Emmy in 1965 for his score to the television series The Louvre.  His contributions to the wind band repertoire are significant, and include Scenes From The Louvre, the Variants on a Mediaeval Tune, a set of Satiric Dances, and several other beloved works.  Dello Joio died in 2008 at age 95 having never retired from composition.

Dello Joio on Wikipedia.

Dello Joio’s obituary in the New York Times

Dello Joio’s website.  It’s unfortunately very out of date and looks very much like the early-internet relic that it is.  But it is still an informative look into Dello Joio’s life and work.

Variants on a Mediaeval Tune was written in 1963 on commission from the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation for the Duke University Band.  It consists of a set of five variations on “In dulci jubilo”, a tune that has been treated by composers for centuries.  Each variation is strikingly original in its character and treatment of the tune.

Variants as performed by William Revelli and the University of Michigan Symphonic Band (on my birthday, no less!  12 years before I was born…)

Finally, a little extra information about “In dulci jubilo” from Sibelius.com, and some more from a Christmas carol site.  And the most commonly-accepted version of its lyrics, in a mix of Latin and German, and a MIDI file to help you sing along:

1. In dulci jubilo,
Nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne
Leit in praesepio,
Und leuchtet als die Sonne
Matris in gremio,
Alpha es et O, Alpha es et O!

2. O Jesu parvule
Nach dir ist mir so weh!
Tröst mir mein Gemüte
O puer optime
Durch alle deine Güte
O princeps gloriae.
Trahe me post te, Trahe me post te!

3. O Patris caritas!
O Nati lenitas!
Wir wären all verloren
Per nostra crimina
So hat er uns erworben
Coelorum gaudia
Eia, wären wir da, Eia, wären wir da!

4. Ubi sunt gaudia
Nirgend mehr denn da!
Da die Engel singen
Nova cantica,
Und die Schellen klingen
In regis curia.
Eia, wären wir da, Eia, wären wir da!