TBDBITL Alumni Club

The Best Damn Band In The Land - The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni

Ian Nicholas Polster

November 30, 1938 - February 10, 2024

Ian Nicholas Polster, renowned musician, composer, and educator, passed away on February 10, 2024. Born on November 30, 1938, to Miriam Berman Polster and Leo Ary Polster, Ian leaves behind a legacy marked by his profound contributions to jazz and classical music pedagogy, composition, and performance on a regional, national, and global scale.

Ian’s prowess as a trombonist earned him a place among the nation's leading entertainers, performing with renowned orchestras and artists, including Stan Kenton, Nelson Riddle, and Henry Mancini. He served as principal trombonist of the Springfield Symphony Orchestra for over 50 years. Served as an Assistant Director of The Ohio State University Marching Band Alumni. Ian’s compositions and arrangements were performed, recorded and broadcast globally, with over 100 commissioned works and numerous published arrangements, including the first concert band arrangement of the dances from “West Side Story”.

Ian’s career as an educator spanned decades, during which he left an indelible mark on countless aspiring musicians. He joined the faculty at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio in 1970, where he taught until his retirement in 2004. Ian authored or contributed to over 20 books and monographs on music theory and composition, showcasing his expertise and dedication to advancing musical education.

Ian is survived by his children Laura (Eric) Jolley, Marc (Gerd) Polster, and Mara (Chris) Polster-Wilson, his brother, Ron Polster, as well as his grandchildren Ryan (Adrienne) and Joshua (Crystal) Jolley, Devon (Mark) Duffy, Leah, Ethan, and Anna Polster, M and Nate Wilson, his great-grandchildren Jackson and Ava Jolley, and his nieces and nephews. Ian will be remembered not only as a musician and educator but also as a visionary whose passion for music enriched the lives of many. His legacy will continue to inspire generations of musicians to come.

In accordance with Ian’s wishes, there will be no formal service at this time. In lieu of flowers, donations in Ian’s memory may be made to The Springfield Symphony Orchestra, The Ohio State University School of Music, Wittenberg University School of Music, or Hospice of Ohio.

Ian was a member of the marching band in 1956 and 1957. He played Trombonium in R-Row. In 2010 Ian was the recipient of the “Elvin Donaldson Most Inspirational Alumni Bandsman” award.