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Douglas Steensland
1914 - 2005  Class of 2006  Performing Arts
A native of Madison, Wisconsin, musician/pedagogue Douglas Steensland (1914-2005) earned both his Bachelor of Music and Master of Arts degrees at the University of Madison, where he studied conducting with Dr. Sigfrid Prager. He also completed advanced study in flute and conducting at the Juilliard Institute.

After serving with the Army in Germany during World War II, Douglas returned to the University of Wisconsin and began his professional teaching career, serving as flute instructor, assistant director of the University of Wisconsin Badgers Marching Band, and a teacher in Madison Public Schools until he moved to Elgin in 1949.

From 1949 to 1978, Douglas Steensland served as music educator in the Elgin Public Schools, and for twenty-eight years, was Elgin High School’s Band Director. During this time, he cultivated a profound love of music in thousands of students.

It was also in 1949 when Douglas joined the Elgin Musician’s Club as principal flute player. Here he immediately recognized an opportunity to establish a full-fledged symphony orchestra. After a year and a half of planning, organizing, and recruiting local musicians, the Elgin Civic Symphony Orchestra (ECSO) was formed. They performed their first concert on April 17, 1951, with Maestro Steensland at the helm as founding Music Director.




















During the next twenty years, Douglas worked tirelessly to maintain ECSO’s solid organizational structure and nurture the orchestra that would grow to become Illinois’ second largest professional orchestra, after only the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He guided the Elgin orchestra’s growing performance schedule and improved the caliber of its musicianship. Through his national and international affiliations, he was able to assemble an incomparable roster of guest artists, often despite a very limited budget.

Douglas left his post with the orchestra in 1971, and it evolved into the Elgin Symphony Orchestra (ESO). He continued to demonsrate remarkable leadership and support for the organization he founded by attending all ESO concerts, championing new conductors, and serving as guest-conductor on special occasions.

One of the reasons he was selected for the Arts Hall of Fame was his series of ten method books for flute, published by Belwin Mills and entitled Instrumental Course for Flute. Douglas has influenced countless flute players across the United States with this series which has been on the market selling steadily for fifty years. Today, the books still rank among the top choices of flute teachers. He also arranged and published eight flute solos for use in instruction with players of varying skill levels.

Douglas Steensland’s impact on the arts is felt across the continent, as former students of his serve as band leaders and also continue playing music, in such renowned and popular organizations as the Montreal Symphony, the Atlanta Symphony, the St. Louis Symphony, and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Michael Pastreich, Executive Director of Elgin Symphony Orchestra, offered this tribute to Maestro Steensland, “Of his many strengths, the two which stand out most prominently are his drive to constantly improve and his dedication to education.”
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 Founding Music Director of the Elgin Civic Symphony Orchest