Arthur Willard Pryor (September 22, 1870 – June 18, 1942) was a trombone virtuoso, bandleader, and soloist with the Sousa Band. In later life, he was an American Democratic Party politician from New Jersey, who served on the Monmouth County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders during the 1930s.
Pryor was born on the second floor of the Lyceum Theater in Saint Joseph, Missouri. He first took up music at a very young age and was playing the valve trombone by age 11. By age 15 he had mastered the slide trombone and was awarded a spot in his father's band. He was hailed as a prodigy after this. Shifted to another band, Pryor went on to direct the Stanley Opera Company in Denver, Colorado until joining the John Philip Sousa Band in 1892. He played his first solo with the Sousa Band at age 22 during the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. During his 12 years with the Sousa Band, Pryor estimated that he played 10,000 solos. From 1895 to 1903 Pryor was assistant conductor of the Sousa Band. After leaving the Sousa Band, he formed his own band, which made its debut at the Majestic Theatre in New York City on November 15, 1903. The Pryor Band toured until 1909, when he decided to settle down and make Asbury Park, New Jersey the home of the band. Also at this time he became a staff conductor and arranger for the Victor Talking Machine Company in Camden, New Jersey.
He set to work on an opera titled Peter and Paul, with a libretto by L. Frank Baum, though the whereabouts of libretto or score are unknown. It was intended to star Fred Stone and David Montgomery in several roles in several time periods.
He retired from full-time conducting in 1933. On November 7 of that year, he and Henry W. Herbert were elected to the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders, defeating Director Bryant B. Newcomb and his running mate, Arthur Johnson. Pryor and Herbert would each serve one, three year term in office. They were defeated by Republicans J. Russell Woolley and Edgar O. Murphy.
During his career, Pryor wrote some of the today's most famous trombone literature, including the heralded "Bluebells of Scotland", as well as band novelty works such as "The Whistler and His Dog", with its piccolo solo. Much of this literature has been recorded by Ian Bousfield on his CD "Pryor Engagement" (Doyen DOY CD212).