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Title: Great bands of America

Author: Alberta Powell Graham

Illustrator: Kurt Werth

Release date: May 22, 2023 [eBook #70831]

Language: English

Original publication: United States: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1951

Credits: Tim Lindell, David E. Brown, and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


Great Bands of America

Alberta Powell Graham

Frontispiece by

Toronto · NEW YORK · Edinburgh


All rights reserved under International and Pan-American
Conventions. Published in New York by Thomas
Nelson & Sons and simultaneously in Toronto, Canada,
by Thomas Nelson & Sons (Canada) Limited.

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 51-13995




Strike Up the Band
32 Roads to the White House

For Younger Children
Christopher Columbus, Discoverer



 There’s Something About a Band 11
I Military Bands 15
 Major William F. Santelmann 23
 Commander Charles Brendler 32
 Captain Hugh J. Curry 45
 Lt. Colonel George S. Howard 53
II Concert Bands 59
 John Philip Sousa 59
 Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore 70
 Arthur Pryor 81
 Patrick Conway 87
 Edwin Franko Goldman 92
III Municipal Bands 105
 Herbert Lincoln Clarke 110
 Karl King 121
IV Industrial Bands 127[8]
 Frank Simon 130
V The Salvation Army Band 134
 Captain Richard E. Holz 142
VI Merle Evans, Toscanini of the Big Top 146
VII College and University Bands 156
 Albert Austin Harding 158
 Mark H. Hindsley 161
 William D. Revelli 165
VIII High School Bands 167
 A. R. McAllister 174
IX As We Go Marching On 178
 Books, Magazines, and Newspapers Consulted— 183



For help in collecting data for this book, I am especially grateful to—

Specialist for Schools and Children’s Libraries
United States Department of Education.

Associate Executive Secretary of the Music Educators’
National Conference.

MRS. W. H. POWELL, for her aid in research and cooperation
on the manuscript.

The following members of the staff of the Library of

COLONEL WILLARD WEBB, Chief of the Stack and Reader Division;
All of the Music Division;
Assistants in Charge of Public Reference.



There’s Something About a Band

What is more thrilling than a fine brass band? There’s something about a band that sets hearts pounding and pulses racing.

Band music stirs all ages. Young and old pour into the streets to see and hear a band. Mothers with babies in their arms and wide-eyed youngsters clinging to their skirts, line the sidewalks. Small boys run to keep pace with the drummer, then with shoulders back and stomachs stuck out, they proudly march beside them. Old men lift heads high, women’s eyes are tear-filled as the band brings sad memories.

All America loves a band. Even in Washington, the National Capital, the most popular parade ground in the United States, crowds quickly jam the streets to the very curb, as a band leads a parade along the Avenue. For it is a marching band which makes the deepest appeal to the emotions of the human mind and heart. A lively march will bring smiles to the faces, sparkles to the eyes and a rhythmic step to the feet.

Since that long-ago day when Joshua commanded his seven high priests—probably the first seven-piece[12] wind band—to blow their rams’-horn trumpets as they marched seven times around the walled city of Jericho, countless marches have been played. And the walls still “come tumbling down” in hearts that thrill to band music.

Down through the ages the band, in its development, has sounded the call to arms and played the hymns of peace. In years gone by the music of the band led the townsfolk to the village green. Today the concert bands draw thousands of people to the public parks.

In our own country neither the Puritans nor the Quakers of New England’s early days would allow the use of musical instruments. But the German and Swedish colonists brought their music with them to this country.

The first band in New York City consisted of four sturdy Dutch citizens who played the trumpet, flute, violin and drum. They gave a free concert every Saturday afternoon at Bowling Green to crowds of one hundred or more people. This was in the 1630’s. A few years later seven younger, better-looking men made up a rival band. They played louder and became more popular.

Many small bands were organized in Boston during the next few years. Several little German bands came to this country and stopped in Boston. Some played on streets and were called Gutter Bands. Others were excellent musicians and one of their flute players became the flutist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

[13]In 1773 Mr. Josiah Flagg formed a band of fifty or more men and gave concerts in Faneuil Hall. This was the first band of any size in America. Other bands were soon organized in Boston: The Green Dragon, and the Boston Brigade Band were very well known.

Bands may come and bands may go, but none like those found in a few small towns in the early 1800’s will ever be seen again.

Even in those days everyone loved gay uniforms. Some of the bandsmen wore home-made bandsuits which challenge description. The members of one little band in New England wore lined, red flannel trousers with dark but decorated coats. The bandleaders in those days seemed to concentrate on their hats. Some wore big plug hats with gay rosettes made of ribbon or flowers. Others wore gorgeous plumes. The men in the bands usually had cloth epaulets sewn on their shoulders; the leaders’ epaulets were trimmed so that they looked like glistening jewels. They usually wore whiskers, or at least well-waxed moustaches. The members of the bands, like their leaders, were often untrained and always unpaid. Though most of them could read music, many played “by ear.”

Human folk need some form of self-expression and music is an ideal mode for an individual to give vent to his feelings and voice his desires. Often the mousiest, quietest little man in town joins the band and insists upon playing the tuba or pounding the largest drum. It gives him a feeling of importance and the satisfaction[14] of achievement. He may not make speeches, or write influential articles, but he can beat the rhythm or blow the loud “oompas” that set the pace for the whole band.

As America’s population increased, almost every village and town had a band. Their concerts in the public square became regular features. These village bands have done much for the advancement of music in our country. They have given more pleasure and delight to a greater number of people than any other agency. These bands have helped the love of music to find its way into the lives and hearts of the American people.


U. S. Military Bands

When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe.” Thus wrote Henry D. Thoreau in his journal a century ago.

General Washington knew how a brisk, rhythmical tune helped hungry, poorly-clad soldiers on the march and also inspired them to fight bravely in battle. He felt that music was so important that he ordered forty to sixty fifers and drummers in each regiment of his army. The bands were chosen from the troops. These “musics”, as Benjamin Franklin called them, were untrained and each man played in his own fashion, but their music gave the Revolutionists heart.

The influence of band music on the fighting man’s morale has been recognized since historians began to write. A band, especially a military band, may inspire courage, a wish to fight or a will to win. It beats the rhythm for marching feet and gives a tune for whistling. Lively, tuneful marches send the troops quick-stepping off to the battlefront. Grand, triumphal strains herald the return of the victorious army.

[16]Troops will step faster and march for a longer time to the rhythm of a drum than to any other way of keeping time. What is more stirring than the heavy, measured boom-boom-boom of the bass drum, the rhythmic clatter of the snare drum and the great blasts of tone from the huge, wide-mouthed horns?

In the beginning American military band music mainly consisted of the shrill tones of the fife paced by the rattle of the snare drums with their vibrating snares. The famous picture “The Spirit of Seventy-six” shows a revolutionary “fife and drum” band of this type. They were often called the “Drum and Foof” bands. Since those early days of military bands there has been notable change in instrumentation. Gradually more mellow-sounding instruments such as the oboes, trumpets and clarinets came into use. Present day bands are superior to our ears not only because the modern instruments are more perfectly manufactured but because of this new tonal balance.


The Marine Band


The drums beat loud, the fifes tooted shrilly, and the Marines tramped steadily down the dusty road. The offices of the U. S. Capitol had been moved from Philadelphia to the new Federal City on the Potomac early in June, 1800. Now late in July, on a hot muggy day, the Marine Corps and their band were on their way to Washington, 136 miles away. And they were marching on foot.

Since the organization of a Marine Corps in 1775, drums and fifes had furnished the music. The fife’s piercing tones carried the melody while the drums beat the rhythm and gave the signals for the officers’ orders.

These drums were wondrous things. Their tall, double-headed cylinders were capable of great vibrations caused by the gut strings across the lower head. The drums had red bodies and blue heads, painted to match the colors of the band uniforms. A coiled rattlesnake, with raised head ready to strike, was painted on[18] the side of each drum, over the warning motto, “Don’t tread on me.”

At the close of the Revolutionary War, 1783, all military organizations were disbanded. But eleven years later the U. S. Navy was authorized by Congress; new duties were found for “Musics.” They were ordered to play on recruiting duty and on frigates. After they had become so generally useful, Congress decided that there must be a fully organized band in the Marine Corps. President John Adams approved the bill to form this branch of the Marine Corps in 1798. The very first U. S. Marine Band consisted of a “drum major, fife major, and thirty-two drums and fifes.”

Some Marine troops and their bands were sent to the U. S. warships engaged in the French Naval War. Others were dispatched to serve under Commander Stephen Decatur in his battles with the Barbary pirates in Tripoli Harbor.

One Marine Band unit, stationed in Philadelphia under Colonel William Ward Burrows, became the nucleus of the now famous Marine Band. Drum Major William Farr was appointed its leader.

Philadelphia people liked the Marine Band and its lively martial music. An especially large crowd enjoyed their playing on July 4, 1800, at the celebration of Independence Day. This was their last performance in Philadelphia; they moved to Washington in that same month, weary, footsore Marines camped in tents on a grassy slope overlooking the Potomac and the beautiful hills of Virginia beyond.

[19]The people of Washington were thrilled and excited over the coming of the band and gladly welcomed it. This Federal City had proved sadly disappointing to its new residents, many of them from busy cities like New York, Philadelphia and Richmond. To them Washington was a desolate, forlorn-looking place—“mudhole in a wilderness” many called it. To these lonely people the band’s lively music hinted at dances and parties.

The Marine Band received orders to do all in their power to cheer the inhabitants of Washington. Shortly after reaching the city on August 21, the band gave its first concert. Fortunately they played in the open air, for almost everyone in the town and country around attended. Everyone was joyous and happy at this first attempt at any kind of entertainment for the people. Young and old were there, dressed in their best, all eager to hear the first band concert in Washington.

Similar evening entertainments were enjoyed throughout those summer and autumn months. The Marine Band grew very popular with everyone, particularly President Adams, Vice-President Jefferson and the Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Stoddard. Colonel Burrows, proud of his band, bought a number of new instruments which included two French horns, two clarinets, one bassoon and a bass drum.

On New Year’s Day, 1801, the Marine Band for the first time played at the “President’s Palace,” as the White House was always called until it was burned[20] by the British in the war of 1812. The occasion of this band concert was the formal reception held by President and Mrs. John Adams. Since that time the Marine Band’s playing at the Presidents’ New Year’s receptions has become traditional.

Not only was the music pleasing, but the players were glamorous. The band uniforms were gay and striking—short, scarlet, gold-buttoned coatees, faced and edged with blue and gold; high blue collars and blue shoulder straps trimmed with gold; blue pantaloons with a scarlet stripe; and brown hats turned up on the left side with a black leather cockade. Each bandsman wore the black leather stock, or collar, which gave the Marines their familiar nickname of Leathernecks.

Besides playing at many parties and balls, the band took part in religious services. The newspapers of that day say that it often played at the Sunday church services held in the Hall of Congress. “Their polished instruments and colorful uniforms made a dazzling appearance and their music was excellent.”

On their first Fourth of July in Washington, 1801, the Marine Corps, led by the band, marched in review before President Jefferson on the lawn of the Executive Mansion. Because of his great interest in it, President Jefferson was called the god-father of the band, and the name, The President’s Own, was often applied to it.

During the war with Great Britain in 1812, many Marine bandsmen laid aside their instruments and joined the fighting. They fought in the Battle of Bladensburg[21] and also helped to save the records of the U. S. Marine Corps when the Capital was fired by the enemy troops.

It became customary for the different presidents to ask the band to perform many and varied services. Jefferson, during his presidency, received a huge cheese weighing 750 pounds from some of his enthusiastic admirers. He invited his friends to share the tasty delicacy and had the Marine Band play for their entertainment. Some years later when President Jackson was presented with a 1,400 pound cheese, he wanted the Band’s music to accompany the feasting of his guests too. But play as they would, no one heard them; for on that occasion the public stormed the White House, ruining carpets and furnishings in attempts to get portions of the immense cheese they had heard about.

Not only has this famous band played for the highest officials at all White House and State social affairs, but also for the first children’s party at the White House which was given by President Jackson. The youngsters at the first egg-rolling on the White House lawn were serenaded by the Marine Band.

The Marine Band has always been a part of inauguration ceremonies. It played at the first inaugural ball, James Madison’s, at Long’s Hotel. And beginning with that of James Monroe, this group has played at almost every inaugural ceremony, and it has marched in every inaugural parade.

President Lincoln insisted that the Marine Band[22] give frequent out-of-door concerts during the Civil War to help the morale of the people in Washington. It accompanied him to Gettysburg when he delivered his famous address.

During its long life—more than 170 years—the Marine Band has had eighteen leaders. Although each did his best according to his musical training and experience, it was not until John Philip Sousa took over the leadership that the band reached the highest peak of its achievement.

The vigorous and dynamic Sousa saw the band’s possibilities and things began to happen. He reorganized the personnel and increased the number of players. He inspired his men to high performance. He persuaded Congress to send them on nation-wide tours. Soon the Marine Band was the best-known and most popular band in America.

Other leaders have carried on where Sousa left off—Francisco Fanciulli, W. H. Santelmann, Taylor Branson and W. F. Santelmann. The work of its great leaders together with the invention and improvement of instruments has revolutionized the Marine Band’s performance since the fife and drum days of 1775.

“The motto of the Marine Corps, Semper FidelisAlways Faithful—is the keynote to which the band strives and it hopes to bring honor, glory and distinction to its proud history.”



Leader of the Marine Band

Another 8th grade football game was on. Both teams were putting up a hard fight. Clutching the ball tight against his body, Bill Santelmann raced towards the goal. The next minute, it seemed to him, that both teams had landed on top of him. When the heap of waving arms and legs had been unscrambled, Bill couldn’t get up.

“That’s not too bad, fellow,” said the gym teacher cheerfully as he looked over the victim. “Just a broken collar bone, I think. It will heal in no time.”

But a horrible thought came into Bill’s mind. “Will I ever be able to play my violin again?” Just the night before, he had heard the Boston Symphony Orchestra Concert, with Fritz Kreisler playing his violin. He had resolved then and there that nothing should keep him from being a violinist.

“And now, this would happen!” he said to himself. “Well, this settles it. No more athletics for me! Playing my violin means more to me than playing football.”

William F. Santelmann was born on February 24, 1902, in Washington, D. C. His father, Captain W. H. Santelmann, was the leader of the U. S. Marine Band.

Of the six children in the Santelmann family, Bill was the only one who had inherited the father’s musical[24] talent. Any one of the three daughters could play the piano well enough to accompany them and the whole family enjoyed singing together on their evenings at home. But Bill’s two brothers pooh-poohed the idea of having anything more than that to do with music.

However, Bill had loved music since he first heard his father play the violin, and he was always thrilled when he watched him lead the gay Marine Band. Finally, when the boy was six years old, Captain Santelmann gave in to his pleading and bought him a small violin. He at once began to give Bill music lessons and was very proud of his son’s love of practicing and his rapid progress.

When Bill entered the McKinley Training High School, he resisted the temptation to try out for any of the athletic teams. Instead he signed up for the orchestra where he was made a welcome member. He also studied at the Washington College of Music from which he was graduated in 1920. Then he left his home and native city to enroll at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.

There young Santelmann studied under a staff of famous instructors. Playing in the orchestra, he enjoyed the association with some of the members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra who often played with the Conservatory group in order to gain practice and experience. During the time Bill was in this school he met Margaret Randall, an organ student from Ohio. He knew this was the girl he would marry some day.

[25]Although Mr. Santelmann was willing and financially able to pay his son’s expenses at school, William wanted to help out. He did this by teaching at Groton, a well-known school for boys.

After his graduation from the Conservatory, William Santelmann returned home to Washington, D. C., where he has lived ever since. “In fact,” he said recently, “we Santelmanns like Washington. My sisters and brothers all live here too.”

In September, 1923, he entered the U. S. Marine Band, thereby achieving a boyhood ambition. As all bandsmen were required to play both a band and an orchestra instrument, William chose for his second instrument the euphonium which his father had also played in the same band.

William Santelmann progressed from rank to rank until he was the concert master of the symphony orchestra. In 1927 his father retired and Captain Taylor Branson then assumed the leadership with William as second leader. Thirteen years later Captain Branson retired and presented William with the same baton that his father had used.

Exceptionally well-trained in the traditions and duties of the Marine Band, Major Santelmann is a successful leader, well-liked by his men and popular in Washington. His enjoyable programs for state affairs and for other occasions have won high praise. After the concerts which he arranged for the visit of the rulers of England, Major Santelmann received personal thanks from King George and Queen Elizabeth.

[26]Another unusual occasion which Major Santelmann will never forget was the concert played on the White House lawn, May 20, 1943. Prime Minister Churchill had requested a program of Stephen Foster ballads and American war songs. The audience was made up of President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, McKenzie-King of Canada and all the other members of the war planning staffs of America and England. Just as the band began to play the first number, the rain poured down in torrents. Nevertheless the drenched listeners sat through it all while Roosevelt and Churchill sang and whistled with the band.

The Santelmanns live on a half acre of ground in Virginia. Major Santelmann said, “I did marry my college sweetheart! In fact, we are still sweethearts although we celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary in May, 1950.” They have two children, William Jr. and Betty Jane.

Major Santelmann’s hobbies center around his home too. “Yes, I have a hobby,” said he, “several of them in fact. I like to work with my hands, anything that is good hard work.” He has made cement blocks and covered an attractive terrace with them. He gives his garden a great deal of time in its season, and he likes to chop wood. By trimming and cutting the trees on his own land, Major Santelmann supplies all the wood needed for the fireplace.

These hobbies have kept him physically fit and mentally alert for his exacting job. For Major Santelmann is successfully carrying on the ideals and high standards of his famous band, “The President’s Own.”


The U. S. Navy Band

The Brandywine, an American man-of-war, entered on her payroll of July 26, 1825, the name of James F. Draper, a musician at “ten dollars per month.” This was the first name on the band list of our Navy, but other names were added rapidly. James F. Draper, whether fifer or drummer we do not know, may not have rated as much of a musical man in his day, but his name is the first of a noted organization in the world of music.

Soon other ships had three or four musicians whom they called out on special occasions. When battles with pirates and other enemy ships thinned the numbers of the crews, the bands were sent ashore to recruit men to fill their quotas. The bands marched through the streets, loudly rolling their drums and tooting their shrill fifes, to call landsmen to join them in sailing the seas to find treasure and adventure.

Thirteen years later, 1838, a naval band was officially entered in the Pay-Table of the Navy’s Register. It consisted of a bandmaster, four first-class musicians, and one second-class musician. From that time on,[28] bands were found on many ships, but this increase in the number of navy bands was due to the wishes of the individual commanders of ships, fleets and stations.

Their instruments were drums, fifes and trumpets. The music aboard ships was available for balls, entertainment programs, and funeral services. Some ships carried fine bands of as many as twenty players each. These bands became very popular and were soon considered a part of a ship’s life.

There was no distinction made between the musicians and the ordinary seamen. The bandsmen had to perform regular sailors’ duties such as shoveling coal, scrubbing the decks or doing whatever they were called on to do. In the beginning they were rated as seamen. After the year 1830, musicians were entered as first-class though they were still paid ten dollars per month.

In battle, bandsmen, like other sailors, had their own posts assigned to them. In the early days when they served as ammunition passers so many received injuries to their hands that the bands were depleted. It was then decided to detail them as stretcher bearers.

Bandsmen always keep on at their regular schedule of musical business, even in wartime unless engaged in battle. Rehearsals are held in the morning, concerts on deck at noon for the crew, and concerts for the officers in the evening. The band plays at all ceremonies. It plays colors when the ship is lying in port, plays at Sunday morning church services on the ship and also for a Sunday evening concert.

[29]During World War I band music was very popular. Everyone—soldiers, sailors and civilians—wanted music, and the government gave them good music. Outstanding Navy bandleaders directed the finest talent obtainable in playing the music that everyone loved to hear. There were Sousa’s thrilling marches and there were songs that inspired courage and gave cheer—Over There, Smiles, Keep The Home Fires Burning and dozens of others. In this period, America’s noted “March King,” John Philip Sousa, took over the leadership of the Great Lakes Navy Band and made it a world-famous organization.

With the Armistice came the breaking up of the marvelous service bands. But the Navy Department, now fully aware of the great necessity for band music, appointed a musical unit to officially represent the United States Navy. They chose their foremost musical group, The Navy Yard Band of Washington, D. C. The selection of a leader was most important, but after careful consideration, Bandmaster Charles Benter was appointed to the post. Lieutenant Benter left a successful term of service on the U.S.S. Connecticut to reorganize and direct the Navy’s band of eighteen members. That the new leader was well qualified was soon plain to all. By 1923 Lieutenant Benter had sixty-three enthusiastic, capable performers playing twenty varieties of instruments. Under this able director, the Washington Navy Yard Band soon made a place in the hearts of all in the Capital city.

A special act of Congress, signed by President Coolidge[30] on his inauguration day, made this organization the permanent, official band of the United States Navy. Congress also gave the U. S. Navy Band the official right to play for three organizations: the American Legion, the DAR and the American Red Cross. The band’s name was changed from the Washington Navy Yard Band to the United States Navy Band. Another noticeable change was made then,—the band gave up wearing the traditional bell-bottomed trousers, adopting instead the regulation Chief Petty Officers’ uniform, dark blue in winter and white in summer.

The United States Navy Band spends its working time in Washington, D. C. within the walls of the Naval gun factory. Their great library is housed here and also their valuable band instruments. In the huge, historic, sail loft the band practices, gives concerts and plays its radio broadcasts.

The regular duties of the U. S. Navy Band include playing at the Presidential Inauguration ceremonies, at many White House affairs, and in numerous parades held in the Capital. The U. S. Navy Band plays at the funeral services of all Navy men buried in Arlington Cemetery, as well as at funerals of statesmen, congressmen and other prominent officials.

The Navy Band has toured the United States playing in most of the large cities in every state. Canada, where it is a great favorite, Alaska, Panama, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Haiti and the Virgin Islands, have all been visited by this popular organization.

Many young men are eager to enlist in the Navy Band. They are attracted by its glamour and by the[31] opportunity to get a good education and to see the world. But it isn’t easy to get into the music department of the United States Navy.

Every candidate must have a high school education or its equivalent and must pass the tough mental and physical examinations when he enlists. If he passes these—and not everyone does—he goes up against stiff examinations of his aptitude in music and his training and experience in it. Then follows a period of basic training in a “boot” camp. After this comes the real test, an eighteen months’ course of hard work in the United States Navy School of music in the Washington Navy Yard. He studies ear training, harmony, theory, music history, two instruments and band music—all of these added to the regular military discipline and drill. After this course is all completed these well-trained Navy musicians are sent in regular band units aboard battleships, cruisers and carriers. Eventually some fortunate bandsmen return to Washington to fill vacancies in the U. S. Navy Band.

The whole idea of the Navy School of Music was planned and carried out by Lieutenant Benter during his leadership of the Navy Band. After almost twenty-five years in this service, Lieutenant Benter retired from his post January 1, 1942. He passed on his baton to Charles Brendler, the Assistant Band Leader, a member of the Navy Band since 1917. At this time the Navy School of Music was removed from the supervision of the U. S. Navy Band, and Lieutenant James M. Thurmand, Jr. was made director of it.

When Commander Brendler took over the leadership[32] of the U. S. Navy Band he began to work on his theory that the band should play all types of music for all kinds of people. He increased the organization to one hundred members, and he also formed a number of different units within it. Most of these players are accomplished symphony orchestra performers and a dozen or more are recognized soloists. The Navy Band contains a complete symphony orchestra; a modern “swingphonette” which plays equally well light opera or the latest “bebop”; and small groups for dances or concert programs.

This versatile band has broadcast thousands of radio programs, of which the “Navy Hour” is the best known. Their summer evening concerts on Capitol Hill are attended by huge throngs of devoted listeners. Commander Brendler loves music and music-lovers, and wants his band, which he pronounces the world’s finest, to play for all America. Truly this is a band for all the people.


United States Navy Band

Fifteen-year-old Charles Brendler, hugging his precious clarinet under his arm, without a word to his father, mother, or anyone, left home to join the[33] United States Navy. He loved music more than anything in the world and was determined to give his whole time to it. Like many boys of his age, Charles had become fascinated by the Navy advertisements. He thought if he belonged to a band on a United States ship he would have nothing to do but practice and play.

Learning that the U.S.S. Florida was anchored at the dock in New York, he made his way to find her. Carefully he watched his chance and climbed aboard, unseen by anyone. Luckily Charles fell into friendly hands. He was permitted to tell his story and to prove his unusual talent as a clarinet player. As a result Charles Brendler won a berth on the U.S.S. Florida September 26, 1913. He was rated as a “landsman for musician.” When his parents found out where he was and what he was doing, they willingly consented to his plans.

Charles, the son of Ivan and Mary Brendler, was born in New York City in 1898, on Lincoln’s birthday, February 12. He was a happy, busy little boy whose greatest pleasure seemed to be in listening to the music of a band. There were plenty of bands for him to hear on the streets and in the parks of that great city, but soon Charles began to want to make his own music. The Brendlers realized that a small boy who had such an early love for music was unusual. They bought him a clarinet, and in a short time the ten-year-old boy was playing in the band in his grade school in Brooklyn.

[34]At thirteen Charles was a cadet in John Wanamaker’s department store, playing in the boys’ band of that establishment. Wanamaker’s then had a school for the cadets and they also hired a capable director for the band.

The bandleader at this time was Frederick D. Woods, an Englishman who had come to America with a musical comedy company from London. Woods liked this new country so well that he made his home in New York and became conductor of the Wanamaker Band.

At the very first rehearsal Woods discovered Charles’s talent. In a cadenza the tones of one clarinet rang clear and true while the other players stumbled.

“Repeat that cadenza, please,” said Woods, looking at Charles. Again he played the passage perfectly.

“You are Charles Brendler?” asked Woods.

“Yes, sir,” the boy replied.

“Please see me after rehearsal,” said the instructor.

Charles wondered whether Mr. Woods was going to let him stay in the band.

“How long have you been playing the clarinet?” asked the leader after band practice.

“Since I was ten years old, sir.”

After asking him where and how much he had studied, he relieved Charles’s mind by saying, “You are so advanced in your playing that I should like to give you some special help in your music. I think you can go far.”

The training Charles received from Woods was invaluable.[35] This fine musician has been a great influence and inspiration throughout Brendler’s years. The Commander says today, “Mr. Woods was a thorough musician and a wonderful teacher. I owe him a great deal.”

Young Brendler learned rapidly. He soon became soloist in the Wanamaker Band and he also played in the orchestra of the old Academy of Music in New York. It was then, when only fifteen, that Charles decided to make music his life work and enlisted in the U. S. Navy.

Aboard the Florida this boy, never before outside of New York, embarked on a six-weeks’ Mediterranean cruise. Once, when asked if he were homesick on this first trip, Commander Brendler replied, “Homesick? I never knew the meaning of that word.”

When trouble arose between the United States and Mexico in 1914, the U.S.S. Florida went to Vera Cruz. There our young bandsman had his first experience under shellfire. The first of the many ribbons with which he is decorated today was won at that time.

Brendler, still aboard the Florida, served through the entire World War I. He returned to Washington, after three exciting years aboard ship, to become a member of the U. S. Navy Yard Band, which then numbered eighteen men.

When the Navy Yard Band was reorganized in 1919, Charles Brendler took his first big step upward toward his goal: He was selected for the chair of solo clarinet in the U. S. Navy Band.

[36]The Navy Band headquarters is not far from the Library of Congress, and there the ambitious musician resumed his studies. He took a course in music history under Carl Engel, Chief of the Music division of the Library. In addition Brendler availed himself of the marvelous opportunity to read, fairly devouring two or more books each week. He read many subjects: history, biography, criticism, and everything he could find about music, including innumerable music scores and their various arrangements, and all the grand operas.

Because of his fine musicianship, Brendler was promoted to Chief Musician, and in 1937 was appointed Assistant Leader. When the Conductor, Lieutenant Benter, retired from service in 1942, Brendler received the appointment to his place and his rank. He gained his highest achievement in 1947, when he was given the rating of Lieutenant Commander of the famous U. S. Navy Band then numbering eighty-eight men. Brendler is the first musician in the regular navy to gain that rank. When John Philip Sousa was made Lieutenant Commander, the honor was conferred on him by the Navy. Commander Brendler won his title, step by step.

Commander Brendler reached the top rank with many honors. He has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Music by Washington University. He is a member of the Press Club of Washington, also of the Variety Club. He is an honorary member—the only one—of the exclusive White House Correspondents’ Club.[37] He belongs to the American Bandmasters’ Association, and other honorary groups.

Lining the walls of the Commander’s studio adjoining the Sail Loft, are various certificates and honorary awards from dignitaries in many states, beginning with far-off Texas. Outstanding among these documents is a citation from the late James Forrestal which reads in part:

“The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in commending Lieutenant Charles Brendler, United States Navy, for service as set forth in the following citation.

“For outstanding performance of duty as Leader, United States Navy Band.... By his excellent leadership and musical ability, Lieutenant Brendler effected a musical organization which has gained an enviable reputation throughout the Nation and has earned recognition as one of the country’s leading and most versatile musical groups....

James Forrestal            
Secretary of the Navy.”

Commander Brendler is married and has two grown children, who are both musical—but “home performers,” not professional. His son Ivan was graduated from the Maryland University in 1950. His daughter Alma (“Rickie”), is also a Maryland U. graduate. Both the son and daughter are married.

[38]A handsome, genial, gentleman is Commander Brendler; five feet, nine inches tall, with dark brown hair and dark blue eyes. He is possessed of a warm personality combined with a gracious, dignified manner. A perfect master of music, the Commander has composed several successful marches; among them are Aye, Aye, Sir, The Fighting Fleet and The Navy E. Although the Navy Band has an extensive and varied repertoire of more than 20,000 compositions, Commander Brendler invariably conducts from memory.

When asked about his hobbies Commander Brendler said, “Music has always completely absorbed me. When I was about nineteen or twenty years of age, I had a great love for Opera. At twenty-five I had turned to Tchaikovsky; at thirty-five my favorite was Brahms; at forty it was Wagner. I still ‘fall apart’ at a Wagner concert and when my band plays Wagner.”

At fifteen Charles Brendler wanted a job that would give him more time for his music. At fifty Commander Charles Brendler as Chief of the U. S. Navy Band has little time for anything but music. And that’s the way he wants it.


The U. S. Army Band

It was World War I. General Pershing was reviewing his troops in France. Suddenly he exclaimed to his aide, “Listen! Are our bands playing? I can’t hear them!”

The General was surprised and ashamed at the pitiful showing made by the United States Bands’ music in comparison with that of the Allied soldiers. France, Belgium and England had fine bands of from eighty to ninety men, all well-trained and experienced. The U. S. players, twenty-eight in each group, had been hastily taken from various regiments. With little or no training they had been ordered to play together.

“Black Jack” Pershing looked blacker than ever. “This won’t do!” he exclaimed. “Something must be done at once!”

Although the General did not know what to do about the situation, he knew who would. He cabled the United States Army Headquarters in Washington, D. C. and asked for Walter Damrosch, America’s foremost music authority.

Dr. Damrosch immediately crossed the Atlantic to[40] prescribe for the U.S.A. Bands. He visited the various army bands in the Chaumont area. He interviewed and examined every bandleader. Then he gave his report to General Pershing. “Give the bands many, many more musicians and have them all trained under competent bandmasters.”

This was made a rush order. Players were selected from the army ranks to form bands of from sixty to eighty men. Capable, experienced leaders were installed in camps to train numerous bandleaders in France and in similar camps in the United States, to make sure that additional bands would be prepared for service. From that time on the United States forces marched to the accompaniment of live, powerful music played by capable bands. And the General of the A.E.F. was proud of his Army Bands.

At the end of the War, General Pershing returned to Washington, D. C. as the U. S. Army’s Chief of Staff. One of the first things he did was to order the organization of a great United States Army Band for use in peace and war.

His command was at once carried out and a new band was built around the small group of honored bandsmen who had played in “General Pershing’s Own” overseas.

Under the leadership of Warrant Officer Francis Leigh the band entered training October 21, 1921, at the Army War College in Washington, D. C. Soon the formerly neglected Army Band was brought into its rightful place in the realm of music. The first public[41] appearance of the U.S.A. Band was on November 21, 1921, when it led the funeral procession of the Unknown Soldier to the tomb in Arlington Cemetery.

Captain William J. Stannard who led the Army Band from 1923 to 1935, greatly increased the activities of the organization. A concert group and several small ensembles were formed within the band. During Captain Stannard’s leadership radio programs were initiated. Although these performances were much enjoyed by the public, they required many hours of planning and rehearsing.

However, not all the services of the U. S. Army Band have taken place within the United States itself. This was the first band ever sent out of the country by the government as an ambassador of good will.

In 1929 Captain Stannard and his men represented the United States at the Iberian-American Exposition in Seville, Spain. The band gave sixty concerts, including a command performance in Madrid, for King Alfonso XIII and the royal family.

The Pan-American Union in Washington chose the U. S. Army Band to be the official music ambassador on this occasion. They considered it excelled all other organizations in exploiting Latin-American music in the United States.

Captain Thomas F. Darcy, Jr., the third leader of the Army Band took office in July, 1935. He had a brilliant military record in World War I, during which time he had been wounded. At twenty-two years of age, as the leader of the 18th Infantry, First[42] Division, A.E.F., Darcy was the youngest bandleader ever appointed to the regular army. He had received extensive music training in Europe and ranked high as a composer, conductor, cornetist and arranger.

Captain Darcy installed several new features into the band programs, especially in the radio performances. He also originated many attractive special ceremonies in connection with governmental functions.

During World War II, Captain Darcy and his band sailed on a tour of the combat area to carry music and entertainment to the men on the actual battle fronts. From Casablanca to Algiers, Tunisia, Italy, France, Germany and the British Isles, the U. S. Army Band traveled through two full years. They played more than 500 concerts to hundreds of thousands of lonely GI’s and unhappy civilians. They were brought home on army planes just in time to welcome General Eisenhower on his return June 18, 1945. And at the Washington airport, the Army’s own band greeted their victorious General with four ruffles and four flourishes and the triumphant General’s March.

On the twentieth anniversary of the first radio broadcast by the U. S. Army Band the following commendation was received by Captain Darcy.

“It gives me real pleasure and no small degree of satisfaction, that this outstanding musical organization was created by my orders, issued when I was Chief of Staff of the Army. It was my hope[43] then, that in due course, it would come to be unsurpassed by any similar organization the world over, and I feel that none can today deny it this recognition....”

“John J. Pershing.”

Captain Darcy retired in September, 1945, relinquishing the office to the former Chief Warrant Officer, Hugh Curry. The new bandleader was a thoroughly trained musician, a professional violinist and a well-known singer. Forsaking a career successfully begun in light opera, Officer Curry had joined the U. S. Army Band in North Africa, in 1943. In his post as assistant bandleader during the European tour, he became perfectly acquainted with the needs of the band.

Upon Curry’s accession to leadership he reorganized the band. More members were desired and applicants poured in from every part of the United States. Each one was carefully examined, tested and auditioned and a band of one hundred was selected. Within this number a marching band, a concert band, several small ensembles, a complete dance orchestra and a chorus of twenty-five fine voices were organized.

Many in the dance orchestra had been members of nationally known “name” bands. This group can play any type of dance music upon request. Two competent assistant leaders are associated with Captain Curry: 1st Lieutenant Samuel Laboda and 2nd Lieutenant Herbert Hoyer.

[44]The members of the United States Army Band wear specially tailored uniforms. The pockets on the coats are large enough to carry their octavo size music, and are buttoned closely to prevent any instrument being caught in them. On state occasions in the winter the men wear either a special olive drab uniform or their official army dress blues. During hot weather they are comfortably clad in tan tropical worsteds. On their left shoulder is a light blue arc tab with the words, “The U. S. Army Band,” embroidered on it in white.

The Army Band presents an attractive picture in spick and span uniforms and the various polished instruments. Especially noticeable are the modern, up-to-the-minute “mechanized” bass drums and tympani mounted on wheels, and the historic “Spirit of ’76” snare drums.

Stationed in the Capital the Army Band participates in all Army ceremonies. It is frequently called on to give its services to various celebrations and parades, for Washington is the most popular place in the country for parades. The Army Band expresses the Nation’s welcome by playing to greet visiting royalty, foreign diplomats and other prominent guests.

It is always present at the Cherry Blossom fete and the opening baseball game of the season when the President of the United States throws the first ball. There are also sad occasions such as the funeral of a United States President or some high-ranking government official. Then the Army Band marches slow, playing a funeral march with muted instruments and[45] black-draped, muffled drums. And as a contrast, the U. S. Army Band, flashing its brilliantly polished instruments, marches and plays in Washington’s proudest ceremony, the impressive inaugural pageant.

The U.S.A. marching band, the Concert Band and the chorus are all popular with Washington people and these band units give their services generously. They give regular programs at the Walter Reed hospital and the various other Veterans’ institutions. In the summer the Army Band presents concerts at the Watergate—the floating stage on the Potomac at the foot of Constitution Avenue. The series of winter concerts are held in the Departmental Auditorium. Weekly, on summer evenings, the U.S.A. Band takes its turn—as do the other service bands—in playing for the enthusiastic crowds who gather in the plaza before the East Front of the Capitol.

The mission of the U.S.A. Band is to serve the Army and the people.


Leader of U. S. Army Band

Clear and sweet the tones of a boy’s soprano voice rang out in an age-old Christmas carol, while the class whole-heartedly joined in the chorus. The music period in that third grade school room was a pleasure[46] shared by the pupils and their teacher. They all enjoyed singing with Hugh Curry. And how Hugh liked to sing!

Music occupied a large place in the Curry home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was a great part of the regular family life. Both Mr. and Mrs. Curry were talented musicians. Hugh Curry, Sr., was a well-known amateur violinist as well as a popular singer.

Helen, the daughter of the family, made music her profession. She became the head of the Music Department of Teachers’ College at Fitchburg, Massachusetts. Hugh Curry, Jr., born in 1911, was reared in a fine musical atmosphere. From such a heritage and environment he naturally turned to music. He sang from his earliest years.

Soon the boy wanted to produce other music. Singing was really a part of him, but it was not enough to satisfy him. He begged to be allowed to play an instrument, and at the age of nine he began to study the trumpet. Then as his voice developed, vocal study was added to Hugh’s educational subjects.

Although devoted to music, Hugh was a good student and made outstanding records in his other, less showy studies. An all-round American boy, he was very fond of sports. No one ever dreamed of calling Hugh Curry a “sissy.” As a valuable member of the school’s baseball team and an ice hockey star, Hugh was extremely popular.

By the time he was ready to enter college Hugh Curry had won recognition as a professional musician[47] in both vocal and instrumental fields. He enrolled at Boston University and his musical activities helped defray a large share of the expenses of his college education.

Curry was graduated from the University with a Bachelor of Music degree. Soon after his graduation, he married a college classmate, the former Kathleen Howard, prominent as a light opera singer. Curry began his professional career as an instructor in the U. S. Army School of Music. From the New York College of Music he was awarded the degree of Honorary Doctor of Music. He became increasingly active in Music Education and also achieved great success in light opera.

In 1941 Hugh Curry joined the United States Army. A thorough musician, a talented violinist and singer, as Chief Warrant Officer he was appointed Assistant Bandleader of the Army Band in North Africa. Curry worked with the Band all through the African-European tour to cheer and entertain the fighting men.

Captain Curry commented personally regarding this period. “While the United States Army Band was the only major service music organization to tour the combat area during World War II, it must be pointed out that such an experience and its unceasing companion, mental, physical, and spiritual discomforts seem glamorous to the men only in retrospect. The route of the Band through these areas was designed primarily to permit the organization to reach the maximum number of allied troops, and the needs of[48] the Band were often sacrificed in order to bring our men a few moments of relaxation. In those hectic days of rapidly fluctuating battle lines, the Band, hampered by its necessary but unwieldy burden of instruments, was often exposed. Even in Antwerp, Belgium, an Army bandsman was wounded by a V-2 rocket bomb.”

When Bandleader Captain Darcy retired in September, 1945, he was succeeded by Captain Hugh Curry. A thorough reorganization was instituted. More new members were desired and applicants poured in from every part of the United States. All were carefully screened, not only in proficiency on their individual instruments, but also their adaptability to all types of music. Each was thoroughly tested, examined, auditioned and even his vocal ability was judged.

Finally Captain Curry enrolled more than one hundred of America’s finest bandsmen in the United States Army Band. They represent a large cross section of colleges, universities, symphony orchestras and many name dance bands, as well as almost every important American music school. Even the American Indian is represented by a full-blooded member of the Onondaga tribe. While at the very heart of the organization is a small and respected group of men remaining from the original “Pershing’s Own” Band.

Technicians, skilled arrangers and other necessary personnel have been added by Captain Curry to this perfectly balanced Army Band. Today, the United States Army Band under its handsome, dignified leader, is able to provide prompt and efficient response to the many demands laid upon it.


The United States Army Air Forces Band

The United States Army Air Forces needed a band. It had to be a good band too, one that would keep pace with—or better still—lead the streamlined Air Forces.

In 1942 Warrant Officer Alf Heiberg was appointed to organize and lead the new band. At Bolling Field, Washington, D. C., the national Headquarters of the U. S. Army Air Force, Officer Heiberg found a saxophone quartette happily playing “on their own.” With this group for a nucleus he began to assemble his band. It was an easier job than Heiberg had anticipated for there were many experienced and outstanding musicians among the fliers who were eager to play, and an adequate number of men were soon enrolled. They were all enthusiastic and practiced so faithfully that in an unbelievably short time the United States Air Force had a good band, one that compared favorably with the other service bands.

A new leader was assigned in March, 1944, Captain George Sallade Howard. He was the ideal man for the job, a man with talent, training and ideas. A[50] highly educated musician. Captain Howard at forty had spent half his years in music teaching and directing bands and orchestras. An inspiring conductor, Captain Howard also possessed many original ideas which soon began to produce unusual results in his work with this new band.

After two months of intensive practice the Air Force Band went on a concert tour throughout eastern Canada. It was acclaimed by the critics as the finest concert band ever heard.

Upon returning to Washington the Band played at a command performance at the White House. That the program was successful was evident, as the Air Force Band was immediately sent on an exchange tour of Great Britain which brought the RAF Central Band to America.

From their first program in Royal Albert Hall in London, the Air Force Band was praised in highest terms by the foremost English musicians. At that time Britain was living on extremely short food and fuel rations. Many concerts were played by the Bandsmen bundled up in their heavy overcoats, and at times, even wearing their hats and gloves.

On account of the cold weather, and the unheated buildings, the people in England generally had colds. Consequently the audiences coughed noisily during the concerts, but they were enthusiastic over the fine playing of the great Air Force Band from America. Frequent air raids and buzz bombs also interfered with concert programs. After the “Battle of the Bulge”[51] Captain Howard and his band returned to the United States.

At the end of the war in 1945, this Air Force group was disbanded. However, the United States Army Air Forces could not do without their fine band. Captain Howard had established his reputation as an unusually capable conductor. He was transferred to the permanent Air Force with the rank of Major and given the duty of organizing a permanent Air Force Band.

Only five of the one-hundred-piece wartime band were willing to reenlist. Major Howard had to start his new organization from the very beginning. He had decided ideas regarding the possibilities of a large military band and he proceeded to put them in force. Determined to have only the best musicians, he used the utmost care in selecting the players. Fully 1,100 men applied for admission and each one was critically auditioned.

One hundred and fifteen players were selected—a rare group—so many were experts, men who had occupied top places in topmost organizations. Some had been graduated from outstanding universities, others had played in famous orchestras, symphonic and popular swing bands. One player had been a symphony concertmeister, and the famous baritone soloist, Glenn Darwin, came from the Metropolitan Opera Company.

For his first assistant Major Howard appointed Chief Warrant Officer John F. Yesulaitis, who was not only a graduate in music, but also had an extensive[52] military experience. He had been a bandleader in World War II and in charge of the 7th and 77th Infantry division bands in the South and West Pacific. He is the most decorated member of the band having made every landing and taken part in every important campaign in the Pacific.

Robert L. Landers, the director of the band’s famous glee club, “The Singing Sergeants,” is an important member of the Major’s staff. He has a Bachelor of Music degree from the Eastman School of Music, studied under Sir Thomas Beecham, Assistant Conductor of the San Carlo Opera Company, Leader of 529th Air Force Band at Atlantic City and also at Buckley Field in Denver.

These, and many other gifted artists, make up a splendid ensemble who are able at the same time to make their individual talents apparent. From this versatile organization, Colonel Howard—he was made a Lt. Colonel in 1949—can send out a marching band of one hundred or more men. He can choose eighty to ninety to form a symphonic band, seventy or as many as he likes for a concert orchestra. He has several dance bands, chamber music sextettes, and a well-balanced glee club.

A staff of music writers are kept at work making new arrangements, a well-trained narrator announces the program descriptions and reads the necessary script. And the maestro of this great band supervises the building of the programs which he rehearses and conducts for radio, concert stage and military duty. Besides[53] these performances they average three concert tours a year, provide music for important military and state functions and represent the United States Air Force musically. The Air Force Band is usually in attendance when foreign diplomats or royalty happen to be in the Capital. During the summer military band concerts are given in various centers of Washington, and orchestra concerts are played during the winter in the Lisner auditorium. The concerts by the Air Force Band, as well as those by the other Service Bands, are free to the public.

Colonel Howard says, “We wanted a unit that was as streamlined as the Air Forces themselves.... We desired a band that could give a performance of Scheherazade or The Flying Dutchman comparable to that by any symphony orchestra, and in the next breath could rival Benny Goodman.”

In this they have succeeded.


Leader of the U.S.A. Air Force Band

George Sallade Howard, son of Florence and Hayden Howard, was born February 24, 1903, in Reamstown, Pennsylvania. His father had been a soldier in the Spanish-American War and his Grandfather Howard a member of the Union Cavalry during the[54] Civil War. George, the only son, liked to listen to his father’s thrilling war stories, and they had fought over the Spanish-American battles many times.

Although there was much music around the Howard home, young George Sallade Howard, the only child, didn’t want to be a musician. His mother was a professional pianist and Grandfather Sallade who lived with them was a former bandleader and clarinetist. But George would have no lessons from either of them.

But no one needed to tell Grandfather Sallade that George would some day be a great clarinet player, because he knew it. He knew it by the way George listened to music and by the questions he asked about the clarinet. However no one urged the boy to study music until he was ready.

That time came when at the age of fifteen he entered high school and heard the school band. Rushing home the first day, he announced, “I’m going to be in the band, and I want to play the clarinet. Will you teach me, Grandfather?”

His music-loving family knew that home instruction was not always satisfactory, so they sent him to study under a local teacher. He had more questions than ever to ask his grandfather, but it was many years later when George realized how much help and encouragement he had received from him during his school band days.

From high school George went to Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York, having won a three-year music[55] scholarship there. Although his parents were well able to meet his college expenses, George earned all his spending money by playing in the Ithaca Theater Orchestra.

After receiving his degree from Ithaca, George started collecting more sheepskins. He studied at Ohio Wesleyan until he received his A.B. degree, then went on to Chicago Conservatory for his degree of Master of Music. His ambition still unsatisfied, he secured his Master’s degree at New York University and returned to Chicago Conservatory for his doctorate of music.

With all this extensive preparation and an armful of degrees, George Howard at the age of nineteen, began his career in Patrick Conway’s famous band. Five years later he was the clarinet soloist, a chair he held for two years.

Then he left the concert field to become an educator in the music field. He was asked to return to his first college, Ithaca, this time to teach clarinet and saxophone. From Ithaca he went to the second college he had attended, Ohio Wesleyan University, as instructor of wind pedagogy.

As George Howard’s reputation as a leader and teacher spread, he was in great demand. He accepted the job of Director of Music at the widely-known national home for young people maintained by the Moose Lodge in Mooseheart, Illinois. Here the Mooseheart Band under his direction won the Illinois state championship for four consecutive years.

[56]From 1936 to 1942 Howard was Director of Music at Pennsylvania State Teachers College where they proudly tell about his achievements in their music department during that time. Reluctantly they released him “on leave” to the army.

His most satisfying experience came when he was sent to do special service for the United States Army in Greenland, Iceland, Newfoundland, and Labrador in 1942. He was given the rank of Captain and told that his job was to build up the morale of the soldiers stationed there. He traveled alone and found a new use for his talents and training.

To quote his own words, “I had always believed that music exerted a greater influence on people than any other type of culture, and this idea was fully verified when I took up my work on this assignment. There were these lonely men, stationed in isolated places, and with no entertainment during the long, sunless, winter hours. It was a fertile field for music’s spell, but it was very difficult at first to arouse their interest and cooperation.”

However Captain Howard’s wide experience had taught him how to make contact with many types of people. Genial, earnest and dynamic, he soon had an audience. He taught them to play on small, basic musical instruments such as the ukelele, harmonica and tonettes. The tonette is a midget clarinet that was very popular with U. S. troops the world over. He helped organize dance orchestras, military bands, and even “barber shop” quartettes.

“After a while,” continued the Captain, “music[57] melted their hearts. Often six or seven hundred crowded into the room to sing together old songs and to learn new ones. Their faces, formerly dull and unresponsive, showed their pleasure and enjoyment. The talent of some of them surprised me. One soldier in Greenland made one of the finest-toned violins I have ever heard from a few strands of wire, some wood and a little glue.”

After Captain Howard had finished his assignment of setting up musical programs in the North Atlantic Command, he returned to Washington, D. C.

In March, 1944, he transferred from the Army to the Air Force as Commanding Officer and Conductor of the U. S. Air Force Band. He took the band on a tour of Eastern Canada and then overseas to England, Scotland and France.

When this unit was disbanded at the end of the war, Captain Howard had proven his outstanding qualities as a musical director. He was given the rank of major and a new assignment, that of establishing an Air Force Band on a permanent basis.

The Air Force had found in Major Howard the one person who could mold the kind of musical organization they wanted. Here was a young conductor of forty years, a recipient of five degrees in Music, who had a background of twenty years in the field of musical education. With his added experiences and achievements in both Army and Air Force music, Major Howard was a well-known man in the world of music. That made it easier for him to assemble a group of outstanding musicians for the new service band.

[58]In 1949 the rank of Lt. Colonel was bestowed upon the Commandant of the now internationally known U. S. Air Force Band.

Colonel Howard is doing what most people would call a super-human job. When he was asked about his vacation, he said slowly, “Vacation. That is something I dream about.”

Colonel Howard rides horseback when he can. He likes to read fiction or to look at television or listen to his large collection of records in his bachelor apartment in Washington. Redecorating his apartment has grown to be a habit with the Colonel. Recently he has had three side walls painted a vivid dark blue and the fourth side a copper tone. The ceiling is white. The Colonel said, “This sounds startling, but it really isn’t as bad as it sounds.”

Colonel Howard’s medals are quite impressive. Among them are the Legion of Merit and the U. S. Army Commendation Ribbon with five oak leaf clusters.

He is the author of many magazine articles and of Ten Minute Self-Instructor for Pocket Instruments. Among his music compositions are: The Red Feather (theme song for Community Chest), American Doughboy, My Missouri, Niece of Uncle Sam, and General Spaatz March.

Lt. Colonel George S. Howard, “Chief of Bands and Music and Conductor, U.S.A.F. Band and Orchestra,” has earned the respect and affection of his musicians and of his public.


Concert Bands


John Philip and his gang plunged through the weeds and briars along the muddy bank of the Potomac!

“Come on! It’s a band on the avenue!” cried Philip, dashing ahead. “Let’s hurry!”

This was a common occurrence in those exciting days. The War between the States was just beginning, and Washington, D. C., the headquarters of the Union Army, was a thrilling place to be.

The boys were kept busy watching the many activities. They saw officers on horseback galloping importantly in all directions. They saw men working furiously building large frame barracks for the soldiers or huge corrals for the thousands of horses and mules.

And now Philip’s father, Antonio Sousa, had quit his place as trombone player in the Marine Band and joined the Navy to do his part in fighting the war.

Bands were playing everywhere, but Philip was so fond of music he never grew tired of hearing them. He couldn’t keep away from a band or keep his feet from stepping in time when he was near one. Every day Philip Sousa slipped out of the house and attached[60] himself to the first line of blue-clad soldiers he could find. He ran alongside them until he found the band. Sometimes he followed them all day long.

During the next few years the young boy saw many unusual sights. He saw people gay over some battles and sad over others. And then one awful morning Philip awoke to find the streets filled with crowds weeping instead of laughing. He saw the Capital city draped in black and all the flags hanging down low. When he asked about this, he was told that the flags were at half-mast because President Lincoln had been shot.

It was at Lincoln’s funeral that Philip first realized how sad music could be. The mournful sound of the muffled drums and the solemn, minor strains of music played by the bands marching in the procession, touched his young heart.

But the war scene that made the deepest impression upon Philip was the grand parade of the victorious armies. Hundreds of thousands of soldiers and countless bands marched in a procession so long that it took two days to pass the White House. Young as he was, the boy made up his mind that some day he would lead a marching band like these.

The war was ended. Antonio Sousa had come home and returned to his place in the Marine Band. The family went back to their normal way of living.

Antonio Sousa was of Portuguese parentage although he had been born in Spain. When a young man he had come to America, to New York City. He[61] met and married Elizabeth Trinkhaus from Bavaria, who was visiting relatives in Brooklyn. The young couple went to live in Washington, D. C., and in a small brick house at 617 G Street, S.E. John Philip Sousa had been born. There he grew to manhood “in the shadow of the Capitol,” to use his own words.

The out-of-doors appealed to Philip; he liked to play with other boys and go hunting and fishing with his father. But above everything else the boy loved music. He was happy when he was allowed to visit the nearby Marine Barracks during rehearsals. The bandsmen liked him and often let him play the triangle or the cymbals.

When he was very young, Philip had begun to study the violin with an old Spanish friend of his father. Later he studied in an Academy of Music conducted by a son of his first teacher.

“I overheard the teacher ask my father to send me to his school,” said Sousa. “I was terribly insulted when he said, ‘Even if he doesn’t learn anything it will keep him off the street.’

“Although I neither answered a question asked by the teacher nor spoke a word in school, I learned all he taught. I won all the medals he offered in the examinations.... I have them yet, little gold lyres.”

Philip’s violin teacher found fault with his manner of bowing and they had a fiery argument. Angry and disgusted, the boy decided to give up music. He went to work at night in a bakery. His parents insisted that he continue going to school in the daytime, but he[62] could not carry on such a sleepless, strenuous schedule. He gave up the bakery job and returned to the Academy after his father had made peace with the professor.

Although only thirteen years old, Philip organized his first band—a quadrille band he called it. He played the first violin. Seven men, all much older than he, played respectively: the second violin, viola, bass, clarinet, cornet, trombone and drum. They became quite a famous dance orchestra until young Sousa, urged by the other members asked for an increase in pay. When the manager refused him, Philip quit. The other members played on without a raise, but Sousa had lost his job.

Feeling very blue and despondent, Philip was quite in the mood to accept an offer which came to him just then—to play in a circus band. The job seemed full of gaiety and glamour, but he felt sure that his parents would never give their consent. The circus agent also knew this was true, but he finally won the boy’s promise to keep it a secret and go with the company when it left Washington.

Under the cloak of secrecy the idea grew more appealing, but Philip made the mistake of confiding in his friend who lived next door, swearing him to secrecy. The boy promptly told his mother all about it. His mother, just as promptly, told Philip’s mother. Horror-struck she went to her husband, but Philip’s father wisely said nothing to the boy.

The next day, however, Mr. Sousa and his son went[63] out for a walk. The walk ended at the Navy Yard where, a few hours before, Mr. Sousa had conferred with the Commandant, General Zeilin. As a result John Philip Sousa enlisted in the Marine Band June 9, 1868, as a music apprentice.

This was the beginning of Philip’s training for his real career. He soon became an expert cornetist, but he did not neglect his violin practice. And before long he had begun to compose music.

He made friends rapidly. Among them was the Honorable William Hunter, Assistant Secretary of State. Mr. Hunter, a great lover of music, each week invited a group of young students to his home for a musical evening. He always gave them a bountiful supper and never failed to slip a five-dollar bill into the pocket of his favorite, Philip.

After a few years the Marine Band began to lose its glamour for Sousa. He wanted more independence. Through Mr. Hunter’s influence he was released from the organization. He began to teach the violin, and his classes grew fast. At the same time he took lessons from George Benkert, a fine violinist. By playing first violin in the orchestra at Ford’s Opera House, he was able to pay his way.

Soon Philip, a handsome young fellow of nineteen, accepted a position as an orchestra leader in Chicago. And before long he went to Philadelphia to play first violin in Offenbach’s Orchestra which had come from France to play at the Centennial Celebration. He also played in Mrs. John Drew’s popular theater orchestra.[64] Later he managed and coached a company of society folk in the Gilbert and Sullivan opera, Pinafore.

Then young Philip Sousa fell in love with Jennie Bellis, a pretty sixteen-year-old actress in the opera cast. In less than one year they were married and living in a little home in Philadelphia. Three children were born to them throughout the years, two girls and one boy, Helen, Priscilla and Philip Jr.

On October 1, 1880, Sousa was recalled to Washington from Philadelphia to conduct the Marine Band. He took the group of well-trained but disorganized musicians and succeeded in establishing fine cooperation and rare good feeling. He built the Marine Band into the finest marching band in all America. “The President’s Own,” as it was called, always played at the White House for social and state affairs.

At 26, Sousa was a man of distinctive appearance with his square-trimmed black beard, gold-rimmed eyeglasses and his always immaculate uniforms. He never failed to put on a pair of clean white kid gloves for each performance. In later years after Sousa had achieved great wealth, he stepped into a large Fifth Avenue store in New York City and nonchalantly ordered twelve hundred pairs of white kid gloves, at five dollars a pair.

Although Sousa conducted with a gracious dignity, he seldom smiled. Yet his audience keenly felt his strong, magnetic personality. He had no affectations[65] or mannerisms but stood still in his place very erect, swinging his arms in precise unison in his own individual fashion. The music seemed to come from his expressive hands.

Sousa was a wonderful showman with a keen sense of spectacular effects. Once when giving an outdoor evening concert, he noticed the lights were turned on gradually. First a tiny speck appeared in the darkness, slowly growing into a glaring blaze of light. That gave him an idea. Sousa had his band begin the opening number, Nearer My God to Thee, in a soft, tender pianissimo just as the faint beam of light appeared. The music gradually increased in power as the lights grew brighter, ending in an enormous crescendo as the illumination reached its greatest strength. This was so impressive and pleasing that the audience requested this hymn and the accompanying lighting effects be played throughout the entire season.

The people, not only in the capital city but over the whole United States, were enabled to hear the finest music of the time through John Philip Sousa and the Marine Band. At his request Congress, for the first time, granted permission for the U. S. Marine Band to make concert tours over the country. Those opportunities were appreciated for that was an era when a fine band was a great novelty. Many people gladly traveled long distances to large cities to hear Sousa’s Marine Band.

After twelve years Sousa retired from this great organization. A syndicate of Chicago men asked him[66] to come there and form a band “which would not be excelled by any brass band on earth.” He was offered a huge salary besides a generous interest in the profits. “And in addition,” said Sousa, “they purchased a half interest in all my manuscript compositions and in any others I may write through the next five years. For twelve years, I have been conducting in Washington and my heart is here, but this offer is too good to be refused.”

Sousa had no difficulty in forming his new organization in Chicago. Soloists on the various band instruments and expert bandsmen from all parts of the country, eager to join the famous bandmaster, applied for membership.

Beginning at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1892, this noted concert band traveled all over the United States, playing in every large town and city. They toured many foreign countries and in addition, made one trip around the world, winning the greatest success and honor wherever they appeared. Sousa and his popular band gave command concerts for England’s royalty, and it was a London newspaper man that gave him the title of the “March King.”

Sousa believed that he was inspired to write marches by the influence of the Civil War days during his childhood in Washington. At that time the air was filled with the sound of marching troops and military bands, and this impression had never left him. Sousa is said to have been responsible for the great popularity of marches during the 1890 decade.

[67]The Stars and Stripes Forever came to him during an ocean voyage. Called home by the death of his friend and manager, David Blakesly, he sailed from Naples. He spent hours pacing back and forth on deck, and this music came into his mind and would not leave. When he arrived home, he immediately wrote the composition as he had heard it. This march was published without any change at all, and from its various sources earned Sousa over $300,000.

In World War I Sousa gave up his band and his huge salary to join the Great Lakes Naval Reserve. He became conductor of the Great Lakes Band for which he accepted only one dollar a month. He at once shaved off his luxurious beard—“so the young fellows wouldn’t think me so much older than they.”

The number of enlistments fairly swamped the band quarters. Hundreds flocked to receive instruction from this noted bandmaster. There were so many that Sousa organized a band battalion of 350 with a full quota of officers. The remaining men he put into double battleship units which were assigned to each regiment at the station and to different ships as the Admirals requested. While he was with the Great Lakes Band, Sousa designed a new band instrument—a mellow-toned horn to replace the Helicon tuba with its harsh sound. This Sousaphone is in use in all large bands today.

At the end of the war Sousa reassembled his concert band of eighty-four top-notch players. This was generally acknowledged the finest concert band of all[68] time. He traveled with the group through six months of the year and vacationed the remaining months. For some time Sousa refused to broadcast as he disliked the radio. He said that he missed the direct contact with his audience and the stimulation of its presence and applause. However, when he was seventy-five years old, he accepted the large salary offered him to play weekly broadcasts of one hour each.

Although the world at large knew Sousa as the March King, his more than one hundred marches represent only a small part of his writings. He also composed ten operas, including El Capitan, in which De Wolfe Hopper starred. The Queen of Hearts, The Bride Elect, Chris and the Wonderful Lamp, and The Charlatan, all big successes in their day. He composed more than twenty suites, forty or fifty songs, and a monumental work for orchestra, organ and choir, including The Last Crusade. He wrote three novels: Pipetown Sandy, in which he devoted a chapter describing the two-day march of the victorious U. S. Northern army; The Transit of Venus; and The Fifth String. He was the author of numerous magazine articles, and an illustrated biographical sketch ran serially in the Saturday Evening Post in 1925. His autobiography, Marching Along, was published in 1928.

So many sources of income brought Sousa great wealth. He had always liked to ride horseback, play golf, and shoot clay pigeons at the trap. To indulge in these hobbies he bought a large farm—700 acres—in North Carolina. There he also raised game birds—quail,[69] grouse and partridges, as well as dogs and horses. But Sousa really spent most of his free time at his beautiful home at Sands Point on Long Island, New York. There he was happiest when surrounded by his devoted wife and family. There he often entertained his warm friends, among whom were Thomas A. Edison, Victor Herbert, Irving Berlin and Charles Chaplin.

Sousa was seventy-eight years old when he died of a sudden heart attack, March 6, 1932, at Reading, Pennsylvania. He had gone there to lead the Ringgold band on its eightieth anniversary. His body was brought home to Washington, his birthplace, and lay in state in the bandroom of the Marine Barracks, where at the age of thirteen his musical career had begun.

During his funeral the Senators and Representatives of the U. S. Government paused in their proceedings to pay a tribute to John Philip Sousa, whom they called “The world’s greatest composer of march music.”

Sousa is buried in the Congressional Cemetery on a grassy plot, not far from his beloved Capitol.

“Wherever he has gone,” Deems Taylor wrote, “I am sure he has found a welcome. There is a dining hall in the Elysian Fields marked Grade A Composers Only. If you could look in at the door tonight, you would probably see him there; perhaps not at the speakers’ table with Wagner and Beethoven and Mozart and Bach and Debussy and the rest, but somewhere[70] in the room—at a small table, possibly, with Herbert and Strauss and Delibes.

“‘However did he get in here?’ asks some disapproving shade—a small-town Kapellmeister, probably ... ‘Who got him in?’

“The guide smiles, ‘The marching men. The men who had to go long miles, on an empty belly, under a hot sun, or through a driving rain. They made us take him in. They said he made things easier for them.’”


The Father of the Concert Band

Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore, America’s first great bandmaster, was born on Christmas Day, 1829, in the village of Ballygar, County Galway, Ireland. His parents hoped that he would go into the priesthood, but that idea did not appeal to Patrick. He loved music more than anything else in the world. Even when a very small boy he had a knack of making his own toys from wood, wire or whatever he could find. Always they were crude musical instruments, fifes, drums or fiddles from which he was able to blow, beat or scrape a bit of a tune.

At fifteen, Patrick having finished the village school, went to work in a mercantile house in the nearby town of Athlone. Several regiments of the[71] British army were stationed in the town, and Patrick could not keep away from their bands. One of the bandmasters, a Mr. Keating, noticed the boy and taught him to play the cornet.

Before long Patrick’s employer discovered that his young clerk was giving more time to music than business. He kindly suggested that the boy teach his own sons what he knew about music. But Pat did not care to teach, he preferred playing. He learned so rapidly that soon Keating gave him a place in a regimental band. Later, when the regiments were sent over to Canada, along went Patrick Gilmore.

When Pat was nineteen, he became tired of the military service. He obtained his release from the British army, and drifted down to Boston which was then the musical center of the United States. Young Gilmore at once found a job in Ordway’s Music Store. This concern which had a band and a minstrel show held his interest for a short time. But Patrick, true to his first love, soon got a place in a band and became known as a skillful cornetist.

It was but a short time until Patrick Gilmore was the leader of the Charleston Band. His second venture in leadership was as the successor of Ned Kendall, the well-known bandmaster of the Suffolk Band. Gilmore’s experience in the army had taught him the value of discipline and practice and with his genial, friendly disposition, he had no trouble in training his bandsmen. His reputation grew as he took over the leadership of the Boston Brigade Band.

[72]About this time a noted French bandleader, Louis Antoine Jullien, arrived in Boston. He had a fine orchestra and used many spectacular effects in his programs. One number which must have made a deep impression on Pat Gilmore was called The Firemen’s Quadrille. In this, fireworks were displayed and a company of firemen appeared drenching the aisles with water from the hose.

Gilmore gave up the Boston Brigade to accept an offer from the Salem Band at “$1,000 a year and all he could make.” After two successful years he returned to Boston where he organized his first band. Gilmore was then twenty-nine years old. Handsome, high-spirited and even-tempered, he made many friends. He was popular in various circles, especially among newspaper publishers, merchants and politicians. Pat never believed in hiding his accomplishments; he used every possible means of advertising himself and his band. He took his organization to the Charleston Convention, in 1860, and to the Lincoln Convention in Chicago’s Wigwam.

When the Civil War came on, Gilmore and his band enlisted in a body in the 24th Massachusetts Volunteers. Governor Andrews named Gilmore Bandmaster-General and Chief Musician of the State of Massachusetts. The regiment was sent to North Carolina, and later to New Orleans where Gilmore was put in charge of all the military bands in the Department of the Gulf.

In 1864, at a huge celebration in honor of the inauguration[73] of the Honorable Michael Hahn as Governor of the Union State of Louisiana, Gilmore staged a spectacular concert. He assembled a chorus of 5,000 school children, a band of 500 pieces, a huge fife and drum corps, with cannon and bells coming in to accent the climaxes. Hail Columbia, Star-Spangled Banner, America and other patriotic choruses were sung. Bandmaster Gilmore scored a great success. He returned home filled with ambition and eager for new worlds to conquer.

Back in Boston he organized a new band, and made a tour of the country, reaping more honors for himself and his new organization. Then Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore conceived the great idea which carried him to the peak of his career. In June, 1867, he told his wife after asking her to keep the matter secret, “I’m going to get up the greatest musical festival and the grandest celebration in the world. It is to be a National Jubilee to celebrate the Coming of Peace throughout the land. It will be held in a great coliseum that will be built to hold 50,000 people.... The excitement over all the country will be tremendous and everybody will rejoice at the idea.”

Gilmore went to work at once on his great project. Boston people thought he was crazy. Neither New York nor Washington would have anything to do with such a wild scheme. Failing to get any city to undertake the plan, he determined to do it himself. With his winning Irish ways Gilmore talked to millionaire bankers, conservative music leaders, doctors, lawyers[74] and merchants, everyone of influence whose interest he desired. And he won their cooperation in almost every case. Julius Eichberg, the director of the staid Boston Conservatory of Music, agreed to conduct the chorus of 20,000 school children. Carl Zerrahn, Boston’s top orchestra leader, promised to direct the mammoth orchestra in several great works. Singing societies from far and near accepted invitations to join the grand chorus of 10,000 voices. They wrote for programs and soon the choral numbers were being practiced in countless towns and cities, all getting ready for the great event.

Gilmore, producer or projector, as many spoke of him, personally carried out his gigantic plans, and neither his powerful energy nor his smiling good humor ever failed him. He wrote hundreds of letters and signed each one. “Praying that the grace of God be with the undertaking and direct it to a successful end.” Although there were great numbers of objectors and opponents to the stupendous scheme, Gilmore, undaunted, worked cheerfully on. Many hundreds of people gave money and help to the happy, confident originator of the plan.

The date was set, June 15, 16, 17, 1869. The immense auditorium, 500 feet long, 300 feet wide and 100 feet high, was erected in St. James Park,—now the site of the Copley-Plaza Hotel. Thousands objected to the huge coliseum, saying that it would be unsafe for a great crowd. Parents protested against the 20,000 children’s chorus singing in the new untried structure.[75] The school board reported this to Gilmore who cleverly suggested that the children sing on the final instead of the first day, after the building had been tested by the crowds at the earlier programs. The school board consented to this.

The coming great Peace Jubilee was the talk of the whole country. Crowds were coming from great distances as well as nearby. Gilmore had won the consent of the railroad companies to sell half-fare train tickets to all visitors. The newspapers advertised low-priced rooms and lodgings. All Boston was hysterically excited over the gigantic celebration. When the huge bass drum arrived on a flat car—it was the largest drum ever made in America up to that time—the crowd of curious people completely jammed the railroad station so that no one could get in or out.

In order to keep the thousands of musicians together in the performance, Gilmore had speaking tubes attached to his music stand through which he gave orders to his various assistant leaders throughout the band and chorus. Beside these tubes were telegraph keys to control the electrified cannon out in the park.

Finally all the arrangements were completed. Gilmore, returning home at midnight June 14, told his wife, “When I even think of tomorrow I can find no words to express my feelings.” Mrs. Gilmore gave him this cheery reply. “... Only two things will afterwards be spoken of as wonderful and miraculous—one is the Creation, the other, your Peace Jubilee.”

[76]At three o’clock on the afternoon of June 15, the doors of the great auditorium were closed. The vast audience, thousands upon thousands, filled the great building from the floor to the roof. The singers, ten thousand of them, were seated on the stage. The one thousand men in the orchestra sat in their places with every instrument tuned in readiness.

The aged Edward Everett Hale offered the opening prayer. After the mayor’s too lengthy address which very few could hear, the concert master, Carl Rosa came on the stage to join the orchestra. Following him, amid great applause came the world’s most noted violinist, Ole Bull, to be the first violin in the orchestra.

Gilmore entered last, wildly cheered. He mounted the high stand. Bowing to the audience his voice trembled with emotion as he uttered a few words of welcome, ending with, “To One alone, the Omnipotent God, all honor, all glory and all praise are due.” He was a striking figure, tall and slender. His face, framed in his black sideburns and distinctive goatee, was pale from excitement. Large, star-shaped, gold studs glittered in the snowy shirtfront of his immaculate costume. Every eye was fixed upon the graceful erect leader. With his hands held straight before him his baton in his right, suddenly the baton was lifted high, then in a forceful swoop, signalled the opening down beat. Band, organ, chorus, all burst forth together in an ecstasy of harmony in the grand old hymn, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

The entire audience went wild and their applause[77] lasted for an unbelievable time. Gilmore, trembling and shaken, although filled with triumph, bowed and hurried from the stage.

The program proceeded in its regular order. Julius Eichberg took his place on the stand to conduct Wagner’s Tannhäuser by the band.

The most spectacular number, The Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore, had to be repeated at every day’s program by the request of the audience. No one present could ever forget the parade of the Boston Firemen down the aisle to the stage.

When the time came for The Anvil Chorus which Gilmore always directed, he whistled through the tubes, snapped down his upraised hands, and every instrument instantly woke into sound. The clanging anvils shot flaming sparks as the firemen struck their rhythmic blows. At the grand climax the telegraph keys let loose the ear-shattering blasts of the cannon in a magnificent fortissimo. (Gilmore was the first bandleader to fire a cannon by electricity.)

The vast audience was completely carried away by the marvelous voice of the singer, Parepa-Rosa. She created a tremendous sensation by her singing of the Star-Spangled Banner. Dressed in glistening white silk with large buttons of red, white and blue, and diamonds sparkling in her dark hair, she was magnificent. The newspapers gave her great praise. “... Her voice ringing like a trumpet-call above the noise of a thousand instruments, ten thousand voices, the roaring organ, the big drum and the artillery.”

The whole program was a superb success, but the[78] great soprano, Parepa-Rosa, the spectacular arrangement of The Anvil Chorus, and Patrick Gilmore himself, were the outstanding features of the festival.

To everyone’s surprise this huge music festival made a profit, a comparatively small sum, but when added to the proceeds of a benefit concert given for Gilmore, almost $40,000 was presented to him. That he had fairly earned this reward everybody agreed. He immediately went to Europe for a rest, he said, but later it was learned that he had spent much time making contacts with great bands for a bigger and a better Jubilee.

Gilmore who was now acknowledged the country’s greatest bandleader, returned from Europe all agog over another great musical Festival. The siege of Paris and the Franco-Prussian War had ended, so he decided to produce an International Peace Jubilee in Boston. He planned to double the chorus—20,000 instead of 10,000 singers, a band of 2,000 instead of 1,000; and a festival lasting three weeks instead of three days.

His preparations were soon under way. Another enormous auditorium—the first one had burned—and a larger organ were constructed. A bigger drum than at the previous festival was built in Portland, Maine. The heads were 12 feet across and the sides 4 feet high. It was so big that a wall had to be knocked out of the house where it was made in order to get it outside. It was shipped to Boston on an ocean steamer, but only a giant could have struck both sides at once and its thunderous sound was so slow in coming after[79] the beat that it was useless. The World’s Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival was announced for June 17 to July 4, 1872. A whole regiment of soloists was engaged, and Johann Strauss came from Germany to personally conduct the huge orchestra in playing his beautiful Blue Danube Waltz. As the high point in the international Music Festival, Gilmore brought the greatest of Europe’s noted bands. The Grenadier Guards from London, from Paris the Garde Republicaine, The Kaiser Franz Grenadier Regiment Band from Berlin and also from that city, The German Emperor’s Imperial Household Cornet Quartette. The Irish National Band came from Dublin and the United States Marine Band from Washington, D. C.

However, in spite of the world’s most glamorous talent, the second great festival was a flat failure. The crowds would not come. One day there were 22,000 performers on the stage and only 7,000 people in the audience. Although The Anvil Chorus was again on the program and also the Soldiers’ Chorus given with red fire and many other embellishments, yet the people stayed away. No one blamed Gilmore, the unsurpassable, as he was called. He had done his part and produced every attraction which he had advertised.

Gilmore left Boston almost immediately for New York City. He was then forty-four years old, still fired with ambition and a desire to produce huge, perfect, spectacular performances. His band of one hundred players, always the most talented to be found, was in great demand.

In that year, 1873, Gilmore gave his last “big show,”[80] this year in Chicago. It was a series of grand concerts celebrating the restoration of the city after the great fire. The programs were held in the huge concourse of the new passenger station of the Lake Shore Railroad, a room two blocks long, holding 40,000 people—and Gilmore filled it. He added two-hundred musicians to his band, had a chorus of 1,000 singers and to the delight of the audience he again played The Anvil Chorus with firemen, anvils, cannon and bells.

The Gilmore Band in 1875 played at Gilmore’s Gardens in New York City making the unusual record of one-hundred-fifty consecutive concerts to crowded houses. A highlight on the last concert of the season was a cornet quartette by the four greatest cornetists of that time—Arbuckle, Bent, Levy and Gilmore. In 1876 Gilmore and his band starred at the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia.

For thirteen successive summer seasons the Gilmore Band played at New York’s popular Manhattan Beach resort. Gilmore and his noted organization toured the entire United States repeatedly. He was a marvelous organizer, a superfine showman and a good financier and business manager.

As a composer he did not rate high. He is generally given credit for having written the well-known song When Johnny Comes Marching Home, although many believed that he was not the author of the composition. That Gilmore was versatile and resourceful everyone admits. In 1890 when his band was asked to play at General Sherman’s funeral, Gilmore revised Marching Through Georgia, a rather inside-out-version,[81] making an unusual, unknown funeral dirge, yet which many people felt was vaguely familiar.

While playing at the St. Louis Exposition, September 24, 1892, Gilmore died suddenly. His wife and only daughter were with him at the time. John Philip Sousa, Gilmore’s good friend, two days later at the opening concert of his great band at Plainfield, New Jersey, played The Voice of a Departed Soul, one of Gilmore’s own compositions. This seemed to be an appropriate musical finale to the life of a man who had gloried in producing dramatic and spectacular effects.


The clear, mellow tones of a trombone, playing Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep, stilled the noisy crowd until a whisper could be heard. Until that moment no one had paid any attention to the Pryor Band which was serenading General “Black Jack” Logan at the encampment of the Grand Army of the Republic at Denver, Colorado, in 1883.

At the close of the solo General Logan hurried out of the meeting to speak to the bandleader, D. S. Pryor. “Who played that trombone? I want to talk to him.”

Removing his bearskin cap, Maestro Pryor proudly said that it was his son Arthur.

“It is God’s gift, and your son has a great future,”[82] said General Logan. Laying his hand on the bushy locks of the bashful twelve-year-old Arthur, the General advised him, “Make the best use of the divine gift you have, boy.”

This incident made such an impression on Arthur’s father that he decided to give his son a more thorough musical training. He secured a Professor Plato, a renowned harmonist and theorist, to teach him.

Arthur Pryor, born September 22, 1870, in St. Joseph, Missouri, was destined to become a musical prodigy. It was in his blood. Back through the generations in his family ran the musical strain, an unfaltering line. His father, Daniel Pryor, was leader of Pryor’s band and “played all instruments.” His mother was a gifted pianist.

At the age of three Arthur beat the drums with such rhythm and skill that the neighbors in admiration forgot to complain about the noise. At six he was playing the piano. Later he did remarkably well on the cornet, alto horn and bass viol.

When Arthur was eleven he played the valve trombone and made his first appearance in Chicago, Illinois, where he was called “the boy wonder.” Soon the lad and his trombone were in great demand in his part of the country, with or without his father’s band.

Arthur reached another milestone at seventeen when his father gave him a slide trombone which he had accepted in payment of a debt. He devoted endless hours to its study under his father’s teaching, and progressed fast.

In later years, Arthur often laughed about his father,[83] a strict teacher, rapping him on the head with a violin bow when he was slow in these lessons. That punishment was stopped after Mr. Pryor had done great damage to a 100 dollar bow.

But the boy did so well that he had a succession of acclaimed appearances at county fairs and other public gatherings in his part of the country. He soon attracted the attention of Liberati, noted cornet soloist of the time, who hired him for his band at Kansas City, Missouri. Arthur was with Liberati from 1888 till 1890.

The twenty-year-old trombonist was engaged for Patrick Gilmore’s band, but instead he accepted the conductorship of the Stanley Opera Company, going to Denver, Colorado.

Then he received his big chance. The great Sousa had heard stories about “a trombone wizard” from the Middle West and sent for him to join him at once. Arthur headed East with a trombone, a ticket to New York, thirty-five cents in cash and a determination to become a “great” in the musical world.

The first night in New York he slept on a bench in Union Square. But the next day at Sousa’s rehearsal the tall, red-haired young man, wearing clothes that badly needed pressing, astounded the veteran bandsmen by his unusual mastery of the trombone.

Pryor became Sousa’s first trombone player in 1892, and the next year played first solo with him at the Chicago Exposition. From premiere soloist he went on to be Sousa’s assistant conductor also. A warm friendship developed between the two musicians, and[84] they traveled together on three world tours in sixteen countries.

An episode that shows Pryor’s trombone magic happened at a concert at the Enclosed Garden in Berlin. Trombonists of six German regiments were there especially to hear him. Pryor played a selection in which he produced his own bass accompaniment, jumping three or four octaves between notes. The vast audience rose en masse and gave him an unprecedented ovation. After the concert the German trombonists approached a German-speaking member of the band and asked permission to examine the master’s instrument. They spent several minutes looking it over, taking it completely apart in the process. Finally they went away grumbling, “It’s impossible. Just another Yankee trick!”

During these years Pryor was christened “the trombone king” and in Germany he was called “the Paganini of the slide trombone.” He estimated that he had played 10,000 solos while he was with Sousa.

Pryor’s association with Sousa ended in 1902. Samuel D. Pryor had recently died, and Arthur took over the band which his father had started one year before Arthur’s birth. With the reorganized band, now made up of some of America’s most talented musicians, Arthur Pryor appeared at the Majestic Theater in New York on November 15, 1903, for his band’s premiere concert.

For the next thirty years Pryor’s band was an internationally known American institution. Critics[85] were lavish in their praise of this group’s simple but original and telling melody. The Pryor organization played at Asbury Park, New Jersey, for nineteen successive summers. From 1904 to 1909 it made six coast-to-coast tours; and for ten straight winters up to 1926, it played at the Royal Palm Park in Miami, Florida. It appeared for ten spring seasons at Willow Grove Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and at expositions, state fairs and many public conventions.

Besides, Pryor led his band in various theater and radio engagements, the latter sponsored by General Motors, General Electric, Goodyear Tire and other companies. One popular broadcast, known as the Schradertown Band carried two comics, Gus and Louis, so-called proprietors of the Schradertown Garage.

Pryor was very active in making recordings, notably for the Victor Company. For thirty-one years he was organizer and director of various bands and orchestras making Victor records.

Arthur Pryor was the author of more than 300 compositions, including three light operas, Jingaboo, On the Eve of Her Wedding Day, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Originality, beauty of melody and exceptionally fine and effective arrangements characterize his compositions, many of which were sung, whistled and played over the whole country. On Jersey Shore was a great favorite, particularly with his New Jersey audiences who rose to a man when it was played. Razzazza Mazzazza, Irish King, Goody Two Shoes, and Southern[86] Hospitality were always encore winners. But The Whistler and His Dog, a novelty two-step became a craze everywhere. Audiences demanded it, and whistled it and kept time with their feet to the lively, catchy tune.

Although Pryor remained identified with his band until his death, he virtually retired in 1938. He was always proud of his birthplace, St. “Joe,” Missouri, but New Jersey had been “home” for a long time. Here he lived with his wife, the former Maude Russell, whom he had married in 1895. Their two sons, Arthur, Jr., a bandsman and New York advertising executive, and Roger, orchestra leader and movie actor carry on the inherited musical strain.

Typical of the popularity of the genial, kindly Arthur Pryor was his election in 1933 as freeholder of Monmouth County with 5,000 votes over a veteran politician.

Arthur Pryor, noted bandmaster, composer, and greatest trombone player the world ever had, died June 18, 1942, at his home, in West Long Branch, New Jersey. But his music, which for more than fifty years had set the feet of millions of people throughout the world to marching, lives on.



“Don’t worry, Mother,” said fifteen-year old Patrick Conway. “I’ll go to work at the carriage factory and make some money for you.”

Patrick’s father, Martin Conway, had just died, leaving five children and no money. There had never been much money in the Conway home and Patrick had never known his father to be well. Martin Conway while living in Ireland, had served in the British army and had been wounded at Sebastopol during the Crimean War. In 1863 he had brought his wife and baby girl to America, the land of his dreams. He proved his loyalty to his new country by joining the Navy and fighting in the Civil War. Tuberculosis developed and finally caused his death.

Patrick was born July 4, 1865 in Troy, New York. His life, even as a child, was not a carefree one in this home where there was both poverty and illness.

At the time of his father’s death Patrick was an honor student at Homer Academy in Homer, New York, where the family had moved. He willingly gave up his school work for a while in order to help the family. Three of the children were ill with tuberculosis and died within a few years after their father’s death.

Little did Patrick know that he would find his job at the carriage factory a dual one. When Charlie Bates, one of the workers who led the Homer Band learned[88] of Patsy’s interest in the cornet, he said, “So you would like to play the cornet? If you will come to my house after work I’ll give you lessons.... Maybe you can be in the band some day.”

So Patrick worked all day learning the trade of carriage trimming, and walked six miles every evening to take his lessons. But that never seemed to tire him.

Later he joined the band and returned to school for part time work. After he was graduated from Homer Academy at the age of eighteen, he began playing with “Happy Bill Daniel’s Country Band Orchestra” where he gained valuable experience. This proved to be the beginning of his career as a bandsman.

But he needed money to help the family and to continue his studies in music. As soon as he had accumulated enough cash he bought a small cigar factory, which was soon a thriving little business. He left the making of fine cigars and the management of the factory to his brother Martin, so that he could devote his time to his music and study. He enrolled at Ithaca Conservatory of Music and at Cornell University.

“Patsy” continued his band work along with his college work. While he was playing for dances at the old Glen Haven Hotel, he met pretty Alice Randall. He decided at once, “That is the girl I am going to marry.”

After their marriage they lived in Courtland, New York, where their son Paul was born. Then they moved to Ithaca in 1895 when Patrick accepted an offer to teach music at Cornell University. He organized the Cornell Cadet Band and directed it for thirteen years.

[89]Meantime about 1900, the city of Ithaca asked Patrick to start a city band. With the financial backing of Ebenezer Treman, one of the civic minded, wealthy merchants of the town, Patrick was able to bring some of the finest musicians in the world to Ithaca. Some of these musicians took their families and lived there, playing in the old Lyceum Theater Orchestra during the winter season when the band was not on tour.

This band played in practically every music and amusement center in the country. They went on many tours such as: the Buffalo Exposition; the St. Louis World’s Fair; the Cincinnati Zoo; Riverview park, Chicago; the Corn palace at Mitchell, South Dakota; and state fairs in the western states.

About 1904 Patrick’s engagements at Willow Grove Park, a popular resort near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and at Young’s Pier at Atlantic City, New Jersey began. These continued for many years.

In 1908 Patrick took over the Ithaca Band and gave it the name, “Patrick Conway and his Band.” People who had never heard of Ithaca began to hear about the band which took prizes at concerts given in various cities of the East. An old Ithacan used to reminisce, “Some bands wouldn’t even enter if they knew ‘Patsy’ and his bunch of terrors had.”

The next move was to Syracuse, New York. By that time Conway was making transcontinental tours with fifty or sixty men in the band as well as a dozen fine soloists.

In 1915 he played a long engagement at the Panama Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. His friend Sousa[90] was there at the same time, and on one occasion they each conducted part of a great concert in which both bands were massed.

In Syracuse during the winter months Conway organized and conducted the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra as well as a theater orchestra. He also did some composing but published only one march. His band made a number of records for Victor.

During World War I Patrick Conway was commissioned as Captain in the U. S. Army Air Force and sent to Waco, Texas to establish the first Air Force Band. At the same time Sousa was starting the Navy Band at Great Lakes Training Station.

Sorrow came into Patrick and Alice Conway’s lives when their son Paul died at the age of twenty-six. Paul, a pianist of great promise, had also played an instrument in his father’s band until his health failed following an accident when he was eighteen.

The family moved back to Ithaca in 1922. Patrick was made dean of the Conway Band School which was affiliated with the Ithaca Conservatory of Music. During the school year he trained a remarkably fine student band. He took a number of these boys with the big band on the summer tours. How the boys worked for that privilege!

During the winter he went into New York to hear good music and to broadcast on the General Motors Family Hour with Mary Garden, Nora Bayes, and other celebrities. He organized and rehearsed amateur symphony orchestras made up of business and professional[91] men and women in several small cities of New York.

Bandmaster Patrick Conway, like his Irish friends, Patrick Gilmore and Victor Herbert, had two gifts often said to be peculiar to their nationality—the gift of music and the gift of making friends. But Patrick Conway had still another rare gift—that of inspiring his students with his own ideals. Countless young men turned to musical careers after finding a master teacher and a loyal friend in “Patsy” as they affectionately called him.

Conway was a striking figure as he directed his boys in almost faultless renditions of Beethoven, Tchaikovsky, Greig, Debussy and other great composers. The simplicity that characterized him was evident in his manner of conducting. He believed, “The conductor’s motions are intended as signs and suggestions to his musicians—nothing more. He doesn’t need to do a thing to entertain his audience. His band is there for that purpose, and the more he devotes himself to directing, the better the band will succeed in its purpose.”

A Conway band was equally at home with military selections and popular music. No leader of that day knew better how to make programs that the public wanted and yet make them like only the best.

If Conway had any leisure time, he knew what to do with it. Reading or hiking with one of his dogs as a companion were popular pastimes. He collected authentic stories about early days in the West.

[92]His favorite sports were boxing and baseball. Each year at the opening game at the New York Polo Grounds he took a small band to play for his old friend, John J. (Muggsie) McGraw.

Patrick Conway died at Ithaca, June 10, 1929, at the height of his usefulness. At the time of his death the Ithaca Journal News paid the following tribute: “It is no small thing to have gladdened the hearts of the people, to have lifted them repeatedly above the mundane and trivial, to have made them forget the heat of the working day in the exaltation of good music. This was Patrick Conway’s contribution to his time, and for it he has earned the heartfelt gratitude of more than one generation. His own tradition of uncompromising musicianship, his belief in offering the best to popular audiences will be carried on by those who have learned from him.”


“What do you want to play young fellow?” asked the instructor of the grade school band, turning to the applicant next in line.

“The cornet, sir,” replied the boy.

“You’re pretty young, aren’t you?” said the teacher, looking closely at the small, bright-eyed lad.

“I’ll soon be nine, sir,” the youngster replied, eagerly, though he was really stretching a point.

[93]“Well, we’ll try you on an alto horn in the second alto section. What’s your name?”

“Edwin Goldman, sir.”

Just two weeks later Edwin was asked to remain after band practice. “What’s the matter boy?” asked the bandleader, “You don’t seem to be able to play.”

“It’s hard to read that second part, sir,” said Edwin. “I’d rather learn to play the cornet.”

“You’d better wait a year or two. I told you before that you are too young. That’s all. Turn in your instrument.”

Eddie rushed out of the room fearing his tears would be discovered, while the young teacher hurriedly wrote “No talent” after the name of Edwin Goldman.

However the boy’s keen disappointment was so evident that two weeks later the teacher said, “Well, Edwin, I’ll give you another try—on the cornet this time—we’ll see what you can do.”

Edwin quickly showed what he could do. He made such amazing progress that it was evident he had his full share of his family’s talent.

Edwin Franko Goldman was born in Louisville, Kentucky, January 1, 1878. He had a rare heritage in a fine musical and cultural background.

Edwin’s mother, Selma Franko, came of a line of famous musicians. She was the oldest of sixteen children, and so many in that large family were musical that eight grand pianos were kept in their home to allow all who wished to practice. Selma, a talented[94] violinist and pianist, was one of the five Franko children who toured the United States and Europe as young musical prodigies.

David Goldman, the father of Edwin, was also a brilliant pianist and violinist, but as an amateur only. He devoted his life to the profession of law. He was highly educated, widely traveled and very prominent in his field. Having descended from such a family, it is small wonder that from his earliest boyhood young Edwin dreamed that some day he would become a great musician.

The Goldman family moved to Evansville, Indiana, later to Terre Haute. When Edwin was eight years old they left the middle west to live in New York City.

Through his admittance to the public school band Edwin had obtained possession of a cornet. His faithful practicing nearly drove the neighborhood to distraction. Even his devoted family protested at the labored trills, runs and scales. But deaf to all criticism, the boy persisted. Before very long Edwin was asked to play at all the neighborhood parties, and his music was the pride of his school. He was voted the most popular boy in his class and received a prize for excellent playing when he was graduated.

At fourteen, Edwin Franko Goldman won a scholarship at the National Conservatory of Music where he studied composition under the great Antonin Dvorak. Next year, Jules Levy then the world’s greatest cornetist, hearing Edwin play, gave him an approving pat on the back as he said, “Someday you will be a great cornetist—you put your whole soul into the tones.” Levy,[95] realizing the boy’s talent was happy to take him as a free pupil.

Two years later—at seventeen—Dr. Walter Damrosch chose Edwin Franko Goldman to be the solo cornet player in the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra. “The Baby of the Met,” the players called him; he was so small and so young. In fact, he was the youngest musician ever to hold such an important place in that great organization. There Goldman had the privilege of playing under the direction of Mahler, Hertz and for a while, under Toscanini.

For ten full years Edwin Goldman held this position. In the meantime he organized and directed small orchestras which were then in popular demand. Later on he began to play in various bands during his vacations at the Metropolitan. In 1912 he announced that he was going to give up his work in the Metropolitan Opera House organization. His family and friends disapproved and objected.

“What do you intend to do?” they asked. Goldman would not give them a direct answer. He had an idea, but he was not ready to disclose it. He began to teach the cornet and the trumpet. He attracted pupils from all parts of the United States and even from some countries in Europe. Goldman’s warm, magnetic personality combined with his outstanding musical ability made him a marvelous teacher.

While continuing his teaching this energetic young man conducted many series of band concerts in the New York area. He liked this work, but he was surprised and disgusted at the lack of systematic and[96] adequate training among bands. They played in a haphazard way, trying solely for volume and noise. Goldman had always felt that this great difference between band and orchestra playing should not exist. He determined to form a band and train it in accordance with his own ideals. This had been his real reason for leaving the Metropolitan Opera House Orchestra.

For a long time Edwin Goldman had envisioned a band with great wind instruments of much power, yet rivalling an orchestra in delicacy of tone and style. Now he hoped to form an organization of fine musicians and direct them in the production of great works played in this symphonic manner.

Few people sympathized with Goldman’s ideas. Most of those to whom he confided his plans assured him that he could never succeed. But Edwin Goldman had great faith and unlimited persistence. His first object was to collect the best available players of wind and percussion instruments, and with them raise the standards of bands and band music.

Having assembled his quota of chosen men, Goldman, as manager and conductor, founded the New York Military Band. (A few years later this name was changed to The Goldman Band.) With this group he put into use the methods, and ways of directing which he had learned from the great conductors under whom he had played at the Metropolitan Opera House. Goldman directed each player as if he were giving him private lessons. He marked instructions in red ink on their music scores, even telling them when to breathe. At first, the men objected to his strict supervision. “He[97] treats us like kindergartners!” they said. Goldman held long, careful rehearsals which many of the players resented at the time, but later they found that a man trained by this expert teacher could become a welcome member of any first-class symphony orchestra.

By his own efforts Goldman collected a fund of $50,000, and in 1918 on The Green of Columbia University, The Goldman Band opened its first season of free summer concerts. This new Symphonic Brass Band was a distinct success. The newspapers praised it highly and people by the thousands flocked to the concerts. A few years later Columbia needed The Green for new buildings, and the band concerts were given on the Mall in Central Park three nights each week. On two nights weekly, concerts were played in Prospect Park in Brooklyn.

In 1924 Daniel Guggenheim took over the costs of the concerts, making them a gift to the city of New York. The necessary money is now donated by the Daniel and Florence Guggenheim Foundation. The Goldman Band has given many programs in other parks, other cities and even in Canada.

An interesting new feature was initiated on the Goldman Concert program on the Mall in 1925—an Annual Music Memory Contest. For twelve consecutive years Aaron Gold, a middle-aged, leather craftsman, from the Bronx, won the first prize in this event. This music lover claimed to have gained all his musical knowledge through his attendance at the Goldman Band Concerts.

The Goldman Band, one of the first great organizations[98] to play over the radio, was chosen to play on NBC’s opening program, November 15, 1926. This band is said to have had a greater listening audience than any other musical group.

In 1930 Dr. Goldman founded the American Bandmasters’ Association made up of all the prominent Band Conductors of the United States and Canada. The members elected Goldman their first president and some years later he was made honorary life president. This influential group has become a power in upholding the ideals of band music so long desired by Dr. Goldman.

At first bandleaders were obliged to use orchestral scores of the great masters’ compositions, rearranged for band instruments. Only expert musicians could make such arrangements successfully and it was an expensive procedure. Early in his career as bandleader Goldman had written to every living composer of note asking them to compose music for the band. “At first they all thought it was a joke,” said Dr. Goldman with a chuckle, “but now, more band music is written than can be used. A number of famous men, such as Grainger, Holst, Copland, Shostakovitch, Milhand, Gould and others, have been contributors to the repertoire of band music.”

On Dr. Goldman’s seventieth birthday, January 1, 1949, an unsurpassable tribute was paid to this man who had worked for years to have music—good music—composed especially for bands. The august League of Composers presented in his honor a program of their music for symphonic bands which was played by[99] Goldman’s Concert Band in Carnegie Hall, New York City.

The Band was jointly led by Walter Hendl, the assistant director of the New York Philharmonic Association Society, and Percy Grainger, composer-conductor. This was the first time a program of art music written by noted living composers especially for the band, had been offered to the public.

Edwin Franko Goldman and Adelaide Marbrunn were married in 1908. Throughout the years they have shared a great love for music. Two children were born to them, Richard Franko and Louise Elizabeth. Richard Franko Goldman a thorough musician, a pianist, composer, arranger and musicologist, is the assistant conductor of the Goldman Band. Louise Goldman married and has a young son who seems to have inherited the Goldman musical talent, and incidentally, he is the apple of his grandfather Goldman’s eye.

A short time ago this eight-year-old Michael who began studying music at the age of six, brought a brief music manuscript to his grandfather. It was entitled “A Song to Music” and it was “Dedicated” to Gramp. Neatly written in the key of four sharps, the final measure began with a half-rest and ended with two full-toned chords high on the staff in the right hand part.

“Gramp, do you know why I put the half-rests in the last measure?” asked the budding composer.

“No, why did you?” queried Dr. Goldman.

“Why you see I had to have time to get my hands up there on the keyboard,” replied the lad proudly. So[100] watch for his name among future composers, “Walter Michael Freed.”

The dynamic, but genial and kindly Dr. Goldman likes people and people like him. He has many friends among the musical “greats” of today and yesterday. And he knew intimately the noted bandleaders of the past generation.

He admired the inimitable Patrick Gilmore who was the real founder of the Concert Band. He enjoyed playing cornet duets with his good friend, Herbert L. Clarke, known as the World’s greatest cornetist.

Although Goldman was almost a quarter of a century younger than John Philip Sousa, the two were firm friends. At a party one evening at which Dr. Goldman entertained a number of noted musicians, Sousa remarked to the younger man, “I have always meant to tell you that I owe much of my success to your mother’s family. The first really fine music I ever heard was played by the five Franko children. When I was a school boy I attended their concert in Washington and I was thrilled and inspired by their wonderful playing.”

“Would you like to see one of those children again, Mr. Sousa?” asked Dr. Goldman.

“Nothing would please me more,” replied Sousa.

“Come with me then,” said Goldman. He ushered the guest into the next room, and proudly led him to a lovely white-haired lady. “Mother,” he said as they smiled tenderly at each other, “I wish to present my good friend John Philip Sousa who heard the Franko children play long ago.”

[101]“Do you remember the little girl with the long braids, Mr. Sousa?” Her dark eyes twinkled as she pointed to a photograph of the five Franko children on the wall nearby.

“Indeed I do,” said Sousa. Stepping close to the picture he added, “There she is, the one on the left.”

“I am she—Selma”—said Mrs. Goldman smiling.

“At last I can thank you,” Sousa replied, “for your fine music which gave me inspiration and strengthened my desire to be a musician.”

If Dr. Goldman were the kind of man who glories in display, the walls of his spacious studio would be crowded with various medals, emblems and scrolls. He has received countless gifts and honors. He is the first musician to have been given official honors from the City of New York, including a beautiful New York City flag, several medals and watches, besides scrolls upon which are written official resolutions. Boston, San Francisco, Toronto (Canada), many other large cities and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have bestowed similar recognition upon this outstanding musician.

An unique honor has been given to Dr. Goldman by the Pawnee Tribe of American Indians who made him an Indian Chieftain and gave him the name of Chief Bugle. And not only has his native land shown its appreciation of Goldman’s achievements, but other countries as well. France made him Officer de l’Instruction Publique. Italy presented him with the medal of Cavaliere of the Order of the Crown.

Czechoslovakia made him a member of the Order[102] of the White Lion. Various Universities have conferred upon Dr. Goldman their honorary degree of Doctor of Music. He also belongs to many musical organizations, fraternities and unions. And indicative of his love for young people, Dr. Goldman never fails to name his position as Music Counselor of the 4-H Clubs of the United States and also of the Boy Scouts of America.

But the honor which gave Dr. Goldman the “most profound satisfaction of all” was the presentation by Mrs. Sousa of her late husband’s favorite baton. Mrs. Sousa said, “I feel that my husband would have wanted this baton to go to his good friend, Edwin Franko Goldman.” Most leading musicians agreed that the honor of being the “Dean of American Bandmasters” rightfully went from Sousa to Goldman, “the man who had brought the band to a high pitch of musical perfection.”

Several books, very valuable to bandsmen, have been written by Dr. Goldman. Band Betterment, published in 1934 and The Goldman Band System which came out in 1936 are two of these. His first book, The Foundation to Cornet Playing has been most popular with ambitious cornetists and it quickly sold more than one quarter of a million copies. A new series by Dr. Goldman is being brought out.

Facing The Music, the famous bandmaster’s autobiography, is to appear shortly.

More than one hundred marches have been composed by Dr. Goldman, many of which have become so popular that he ranks next to Sousa in that field. On[103] The Mall, Goldman’s best-known march, is often requested by the concert crowds who, without a signal from the leader, spontaneously join in singing or whistling the trio. Brooklyn is equally enthusiastic when he plays Hail Brooklyn, a march which Goldman composed and dedicated to the people of Brooklyn.

The United States Government recognizes Dr. Goldman’s great musical ability. Recently he was appointed on a committee of three to make a survey of the Government Service Bands in various centers including Japan and the Philippines, and to suggest ways of improving these bands.

Dr. Goldman generously gives much time to worthwhile musical efforts of various groups. Regularly, once each year, he conducts the Salvation Army Band in New York City. And also, every year, he leads the band at the Swedish Orphans’ Home to aid their money-raising campaign.

Young, talented musicians may be sure of a sympathetic hearing from this great-hearted man of music. He is always happy to discover and promote new musical geniuses.

At the funeral of the well-known Negro singer and composer, Harry Burleigh, Dr. Goldman was attracted by an unusually beautiful voice among the singers. He at once sought her out, gave her an audition and offered her an opportunity to sing at the Goldman Band Concerts.

Dr. Goldman is an unforgettable figure. He is a handsome man with wavy, white hair, brilliant dark[104] eyes and a quick friendly smile. He is not tall, but slender, trimly built and of distinguished appearance.

This maker of “music for the masses” is one of New York City’s best-known men. While band music is his chief interest, he indulges in a hobby, that of collecting autographs and letters of composers, conductors, musicians and other famous people. Besides his other numerous activities, Dr. Goldman finds time to aid his “pet project”—School and College Bands.

Since the beginning of this movement Dr. Goldman’s efforts for its advancement have been continuous. As a judge at contests and music festivals, adviser and consultant, he has freely given his time. “These High School and College Bands have a wonderful future and will exert a great influence upon our country’s music,” said this music authority. Dr. Goldman is in great demand as a judge or speaker at all music festivals.

He firmly believes that every child should learn to play a musical instrument. “With that hobby,” says Dr. Goldman, “boys will not loaf or linger on the streets, not knowing what to do with their spare time. Now, with shorter work hours, people have more unoccupied time. Those who become interested in music will be interested in all the better things of life—art, literature, and sculpture. The only worthwhile things that last are cultural things. Music will remain with them forever.”


Municipal Bands

Clang! Clang! went the firebell. The members of the Lone Tree Band practicing in a room above the fire department, dropped their instruments and scuttled pell-mell downstairs to go to the fire. They were led by their bandmaster who was also the fire chief.

Lone Tree might have been any town in the early 1900’s when a band was as necessary to community pride and self respect as was its fire department. The usual practice room was back of, or above the engine house, or it may have been in the back room of a grocery store if the proprietor chanced to be a bandmember. Here the public-spirited citizens tooted away through long hours preparing for the weekly or monthly concert.

To the townspeople these blaring sounds were a promise of good times to come; for the band concert was a big social event, not only in the towns but also in the surrounding communities. Stores remained open on those nights. Hitching racks were all occupied. Families and young couples came in various kinds of conveyances from lumber wagons to surreys with[106] fringed tops and occasionally a Ford or perhaps a Pierce-Arrow. The young people strolled around the commons or parks in the moonlight; older women visited with relatives or friends; while the men gathered in small groups to talk about politics or crops. All discussed their favorite “pieces” from The Poet and Peasant overture to Listen to the Mocking Bird with variations. The latter gave the cornetist an opportunity to display his technique, and he seldom failed his audience.

The municipal band became a unifying influence of the entire community, and by 1912 nearly every town of any size in the United States had some kind of a band. Victor and Columbia Record Companies were selling 1,000,000 march records a year. The march kings were as eagerly followed as the popular jazz kings of today.

Maintaining a band was not easy, but subscription and taxation plans were used in many municipalities of all sizes even in rural communities. Major George W. Landers of Clarinda, Iowa, a prominent bandmaster himself, fathered the Iowa Band Law, a model for similar legislation in more than half the states of the Union. This law permitted towns and cities of less than 40,000 to levy a local tax “for maintenance or employment of a band for musical purposes.” Major Landers holds a high place in band history.

Police and fire department bands, many of which are still in existence, have rendered a real service to their communities. Service clubs such as Kiwanis,[107] Rotary, Exchange, and Lion, have sponsored juvenile bands in many towns and cities. Fraternal orders, American Legion Posts, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other organizations today support some fine bands.

The small-town band is a distinctly American tradition, one of those we often associate with “the good old days.” But today’s municipal bands are directly descended from those town bands, good or bad as they may have been. Colonel George Howard, leader of the Army Air Force Band, says, “Town bands were organized and conducted by men who had a real love for music, organizational ability, and community spirit. We must never underestimate the tremendous job they did in helping to elevate the plane of American culture.”

Although relatively few cities maintain municipal bands now, there are still some excellent ones to be found in the smaller cities. There seems to be a trend toward more community-supported bands again with an increased interest in public concerts, particularly park concerts where large numbers can meet.


The Allentown, Pennsylvania, Band has authentic records to prove that it was organized in 1828 and that it played at a “celebration in honor of General Lafayette, who had recently died, held on July 31, 1834.[108] In the center of the troops, leading the white horse draped in mourning, the band marched to the rumbling of the muffled drums.”

Marching at the head of the first firemen’s parade in Allentown was one of the various important holiday functions the band has participated in. “The band was followed by the hose company with four horses and a fine banner; the Friendship engine, drawn by two horses and having a banner; the Lehigh engine, drawn by four gray horses, with a banner; and the Humane engine, drawn by four horses with a banner. All were decorated with laurel, evergreens and flowers.”

During World War I the band played for many civic and military affairs, including the launching of the first wooden ship by the Trayler Shipbuilding Company at Cornwells, on July 5, 1918.

In 1926 the present director, Albertus L. Meyers, who had many years of professional experience with Sousa, Conway, Pryor and Liberati was elected leader and business manager. Under his direction the Allentown Band has grown into a concert band of seventy members which has played in Toronto and Montreal, Canada, and in various large cities of the East.

This is Allentown’s own municipal band. It plays a series of winter concerts in a local theater and a summer series in West Park, as well as many concerts in nearby communities.



The Barrington Band in East Barrington, New Hampshire, is just four years younger than the Allentown Band, but it has the unique distinction of having had only three leaders, all from three generations of the Wiggin family. In 1832 James Wiggin, grandfather of the present leader, organized the Wiggin Band with his five sons and a few neighbor boys as members.

George Wiggin, one of the five sons, “had the band in hand” at the age of seventeen and carried on as bandmaster until 1880. During this time George had five of his sons in his band.

Elmer Wiggin, the present leader, had his four brothers in his group when he took over in 1880. “After I became leader, we played our initial job for a Garfield and Arthur torchlight parade,” he says. “But our uniforms weren’t as colorful and elaborate as those of my father’s band, purchased about the Mexican War time.”

In 1890 the name was changed from the Wiggin’s Band to the Barrington Band. Now Elmer Wiggin, loved and revered by his community, carries on with his son and a grand-nephew representing the family in today’s band of thirteen players.

“I am now in my eighty-ninth year,” says Bandmaster Wiggin, “but I expect to lead my band on Memorial Day as I have for sixty-nine years.”



Five-year-old Herbert Clarke stealthily crept up the attic stairs as he had done for days when his mother was busy. He quietly opened up the cases of wind instruments stored there. Not daring to take them out, he sat entranced as he examined each one separately.

But his favorite play place was soon discovered. His father ordered him to stay out of the attic and then began to teach him violin. The boy progressed surprisingly fast, but the forbidden instruments were constantly in his mind.

Herbert Lincoln Clarke, born September 12, 1867, in Woburn, Massachusetts, was the fourth of five sons of William Horatio and Eliza Tufts Richardson Clarke. His father, a celebrated organist and composer, disapproved of band musicians although he could play any kind of instrument made. He wanted his sons to learn and enjoy classical music and frequently roared at them, “Music is an art, not a profession!” But band music was Herbert’s heritage.

He watched the torchlight processions of the political parties prior to the election of 1876, the fife and drum corps, and bands of all kinds marching and playing with hundreds of men, all bearing torches and wearing multi-colored capes. He would lie awake nights listening to bands playing in the distance, then[111] fall asleep and dream that he was a man playing with them.

After his brother Ed bought a cornet and joined a band Herbert’s band fever grew worse. On their first parade Herbert marched alongside Ed and announced to all they passed, “This is my brother playing the cornet.”

When Herbert was twelve the family moved to Toronto, Canada, having previously lived in four different cities where Mr. Clarke had been called to play the church organ or take charge of school music. At first Herbert had to content himself with trailing bands and keeping his brothers’ instruments polished and their uniforms brushed and spotless.

After he had heard Bowen R. Church, his first cornetist hero, Herbert again hopefully invaded the attic collection. He took out the old brass cornopean from its box and plastered it together with beeswax. Watching his chance to practice he found he could draw only wheezy noises from the dilapidated old horn, but he did learn to play some of the cornet scales. Finally one loud toot blew the old instrument apart.

Regretfully, Herbert went back to his violin and with some of his schoolmates organized a little orchestra which did so well that they were soon playing at church sociables. Herbert’s music attracted so much attention that he was offered the second violinist chair with the Toronto Philharmonic Orchestra of some fifty players. Here the thirteen-year-old boy learned much good music.

[112]One day he persuaded his mother to let him “try just once” to play his brother’s silver cornet. She was so surprised at his performance that she asked Ed to hear him. As a result Herbert was allowed to play in his brother’s small orchestra at the opening of a new restaurant. The fifty cents he received was the first money he had ever made from music.

This spurred him on to further practice and to begin saving money to buy his own cornet. He shoveled snow furiously at twenty-five cents a job, but at the end of a month his cornet seemed far away. His father, usually so generous, refused to contribute a cent to this cause.

Discouraged, Herbert decided to try for a job playing with the Government Regiment Band as he had heard that they furnished instruments free to those who did not own them. In spite of the fact that he was only fourteen, he was accepted and took the oath of allegiance to Queen Victoria for service. The bandmaster gave him a cornet, a plain brass one with badly corroded slides; but he happily cleaned it up and polished it till it glistened like new. No one worked harder than Herbert. With distended cheeks and bulging eyes he practiced faithfully.

His big day soon came. At the opening of Canadian Parliament he put on his regimental uniform to perform guard duty. In twelve below zero weather the band marched through snowy and icy streets. At first he could not keep step and hold his mouthpiece in place. Then the cornet froze to his lips. It not only made no sound, but it took the skin when he removed[113] it. His proud schoolmates who trooped along home with him after the parade did not know that their hero had not played a note during the entire march.

That fall after a hard fought football game, Herbert contracted pneumonia and was kept in bed from December till April. His brother Ed who was now playing a violin in an orchestra felt so sorry for Herbert that he allowed him to use his cornet. Father relented enough to say, “Get well, son, and I’ll let you play the cornet since nothing else will do. That is, if you behave yourself and keep your school work up to the mark.” Herbert returned to school and was graduated with his class in 1884.

Then his family moved again—this time to Indianapolis, Indiana. There, fortunately, each musician had his own room. Herbert and his cornet, Ern and his trombone, Ed and his violin, Mr. Clarke and his organ. Besides, the boys and their father began playing together. Many unsigned notes were left in the Clarke’s mailbox, all expressing the same thought—that the family was the “neighborhood nuisance” and that “they should take their instruments and move to the country.”

Herbert got a job playing at a roller skating rink for fourteen dollars a week and proudly began to pay board at home, a dollar a week. Now he was making enough money to buy his own cornet. Although it was not a silver-plated one like Ed’s, it was a prized possession.

The boy’s ambition was fired again when Patrick Gilmore’s band came to play in Indianapolis. Herbert[114] met them at the station and, standing first on one foot then on the other, tried to get enough courage to ask to carry the great Gilmore’s bag to the hotel. Failing in this he sat in a front seat at the concert where he could see every move of the musicians as well as marvel at their technique. Then and there he vowed that some day he would play in Gilmore’s band, the only traveling band in the country at that time.

Still thinking of Gilmore the next morning, he was up early to practice when a call from his father interrupted, “A letter for you, Herbert. Come on down!” Will, the oldest son who had remained in business in Toronto, had written glowingly of a job he had found for Herbert in a store. Mr. Clarke was sure that this was a fine opportunity for his young son, and he cited instances of many wealthy and respected citizens who had started with similar jobs. With visions of wealth and prestige, Herbert left home to try for a business career.

Upon his arrival his hopes were a bit dashed when he learned that he would be paid only ten dollars a month. So that he would not have to pay any lodging, his brother Will allowed him to sleep in the upstairs room of his boathouse. The boy was always cold, but he was too proud to ask for help from home. When summer came, he began playing with the Regimental Band and that trebled his income.

Herbert began to doubt that his career was business as his music interest grew. He said, “There is something that makes me restless and only music will overcome[115] it.” One day at the store he was discovered working on cornet solos and drawing staves on brown wrapping paper. For this he was reprimanded by his manager and later lectured by Will. Before he could be fired, however, a telegram came for him.

He had received an offer to play at English’s Opera in Indianapolis at fifteen dollars a week. This he accepted with alacrity. Back in Indianapolis he found that his income was sufficient for him to buy the books and music he wanted for the cornet. He studied all the music magazines and Orban’s Method faithfully, and worked hard trying to devise a method of his own. He sat where he could watch good cornetists at concerts then went home to practice for hours trying to imitate them. Clarke, in writing of these years, said, “No one will ever know the many obstacles I had to overcome in the early part of my career.” But his love for the cornet kept him at work in spite of many disappointments.

The next year at the age of eighteen, Herbert won the cornet championship at the state band contest in Evansville, Indiana. Henry Dustin, celebrated instrument maker, presented him with a gold-plated and elaborately engraved baby cornet with an oval bell. Six and a half inches long and five inches high, this was the smallest cornet ever made, and it could actually be played.

Herbert went to visit his parents who now lived in Rochester, New York, and at their urging, patiently canvassed the town for a job. But when he received an[116] offer from the Citizens Band in Toronto, who wanted him as cornet soloist, the pleas of his father fell upon a mind already made up. “My career must be music as it is so continually thrust upon me,” he decided once and for all.

Back in Toronto he reenlisted with the Queen’s Own Regiment. Then the ambitious young man organized and led an industrial band of thirty employees of the Taylor Safe Works Company. For this, his first directing work, he spent long hours before his mirror, wielding his baton with different rhythms until he could use it easily.

His reputation as a musician spread and the Toronto Conservatory of Music hired him as instructor in “violin, viola, cornet and all brass instruments.” In the fall of 1890 Clarke was honorably discharged from the Regimental Band so he could lead a forty-man band for the Heintzman Piano Company.

Clarke also formed a little company he called “The Canadian Trio.” They gave concerts all over Ontario, and in a short time Herbert Clarke was known as “Canada’s Favorite Cornet Soloist.”

But he was to receive a still greater honor—a chance to try out for a place in Gilmore’s Band. He went to New York and passed a strenuous test of both ability and endurance.

At twenty-four he had realized his teen-age dream of being a soloist with the great Gilmore and of traveling over the country with him. Two Clarke brothers occupied solo chairs—Ernest, trombone and Herbert,[117] cornet. The band began by touring the New England States, then played a month at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Manhattan Beach was the next engagement, and then the St. Louis exposition. Here Patrick Gilmore suddenly died.

Speaking of this time Clarke wrote, “Back in New York and broke, I played at the new Manhattan Theater and any place I could get work. To avoid paying carfare, I walked many miles to and from my jobs.”

But the next year he joined Sousa’s Band for a tour of the United States and Europe and remained with him for several years. Clarke, encouraged by Arthur Pryor, twenty-three-year-old trombone soloist with the band, began writing his own solos.

Many times between tours the musicians were without work and salary. During these years Clarke played with various groups, among them Victor Herbert’s 22nd Regiment Band and the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.

Then he rejoined Sousa for another great tour. When they returned from Europe, Clarke took over the American Band in Providence, Rhode Island. At the same time he led the bands of three regiments. After a year he resigned and filled engagements under the name of Clarke’s Providence Band.

However, when Sousa called to ask that Clarke rejoin him for a world tour, he was greatly tempted. He was ready to play solos again and leave booking problems behind him. He consoled his wife and three children by promising to take them with him on the 1905[118] European tour. “My life seemed to be one of change,” wrote Clarke. “But I surely gained experience in all kinds of music.”

From 1904 till 1917 Herbert Clarke, the self-taught cornetist, was soloist and assistant conductor of Sousa’s great band. On the podium he had the same appearance and directing style as Sousa. Outstanding as an arranger of band music, Clarke was invaluable. The two men worked together through all these years in confidential relationship.

Between tours Clarke spent more time on the farm which he had bought near Reading, Pennsylvania, getting acquainted with his family and teaching and practicing. He told of his small daughter forgetting him after a long tour and running to tell her mother that a strange man was at the door.

At the age of forty-five Clarke began to think of retiring from concert work. He went to Elkhart, Indiana, to head the cornet and trumpet department of C. G. Conn’s large factory with the understanding that he be released for tours with Sousa. Clarke held this position until Mr. Conn sold his factory in 1915.

As a young man Clarke had declared that he would leave the concert field at the age of fifty. He insisted that he wanted to “quit in good standing, stay in one place, sleep in the same bed every night and quit traveling all over the world.”

In September, 1917, Clarke severed his connection with Sousa’s band and accepted an offer to conduct the band of the Anglo-American Leather Company in[119] Huntsville, Canada. At the end of this five year contract, Clarke moved to Los Angeles, California, where he planned to spend the rest of his life. No sooner had he got well started in teaching cornet and in launching a correspondence course than he accepted the leadership of the Long Beach, California, Municipal Band, for a six-month period.

Under Clarke’s baton this band of twenty-five musicians grew to fifty-two and the six months lengthened to twenty years. Then Clarke’s physician ordered him to retire from work.

During his many years of public service, Herbert Clarke made an enviable record. The degree of Doctor of Music was conferred upon him by Phillips University in 1934. He was the author of four books on the cornet. He traveled all over the world with the greatest bands of his day, having made thirty-four tours of the United States and four of Europe. He played over 6,000 programmed concert solos.

Among his popular compositions are Aloha Oe, Whirlwind Polka, Ah Cupid, and Long Beach Is Calling. He made more phonograph records than any other cornet player, both in the United States and in Europe. Sounds of the Hudson and Debutante are among those that have inspired thousands with their flawless technique. His records were still listed in the catalogs well into the 1920’s and many cornetists play them today.

As a teacher Dr. Clarke had pupils from all over the world seeking his counsel and guidance. He told them,[120] “You can be a great cornet player if you wish. There is no such thing as a born cornetist. Each is made by and for himself.”

Dr. Clarke had a keen interest in school and college bands and was in great demand as guest conductor and lecturer at national band contests and clinics. His kindly mannerisms and warm friendliness endeared him to young and old alike.

Bringing joy and happiness to others through his music and his encouragement had made a full life for Herbert Clarke who died January 30, 1945, in Long Beach, California.

In 1948 a monument was unveiled and dedicated to Dr. Clarke in the Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D. C. It was erected by the Pennsylvania Bandmasters’ Association in collaboration with the American Bandmasters’ Association and the Sousa Band Fraternal Society. On this monument not far from that of his beloved friend, Sousa, are these words: Herbert Lincoln Clarke, World’s Premiere Cornetist and Bandmaster.

This memorial was erected to a man who had never had a cornet lesson in his life, to a man who was known the world over as a great artist and a great gentleman.



“Mister, can you tell me where the circus lot is?” asked the tall lanky eighteen-year-old Karl King.

“Yep, it’s right down that road, son. But if you’re looking for the show, it left a week ago—where it went I don’t know,” answered the old man as he walked on down the street.

Karl, laying his baritone horn carefully on the ground, sank wearily to the curb. Taking a crumpled letter from his pocket, he read it again. “Yes, the Yankee Robinson Show bandmaster did say that I was to report here in Emporia, Kansas, today for a job,” he said to himself. “And here I am with just eighty-seven cents in my pocket, and the circus has left town.”

Fortunately for him a circus follower, who had been left behind, came along the street and stopped to question the dejected-looking young man:

“The Yankee Robinson Shows? Come on with me. I’m following them too. They went off without me, but we’ll catch them.”

With his help Karl caught up with the circus a few days later and began a career that has made history.

Karl King, a true Midwesterner, was born in Paintersville, Ohio, February 21, 1891 to Sandusky L. and Anna King. Before he could walk, Karl’s parents noticed his fascination for music, and when very young[122] he began to study music. He sold papers on the streets of Canton to make money to buy his first horn.

Karl’s urge for writing and composing was the talk of the neighborhood. His first march written at fourteen was sold three years later for ten dollars. Shortly after this a road show piano player gave him a lesson in harmony and taught him to play chords on the piano, and that was the only technical instruction he was to have outside of his own study. Like Herbert Clarke, Karl King is a self-educated musician.

He became baritone soloist with Thayer Military Academy Band of Canton, Ohio, at sixteen. Other similar jobs followed with such organizations as Weddemeyer’s Band of Columbus, Ohio, and the Soldier’s Home Band of Danville, Illinois.

This was work he enjoyed, but it was necessary for him to help support himself. At the age of thirteen he began setting type and doing other odd jobs for the newspaper, the Canton, Ohio, Repository, even trying his hand at reporting.

Then at eighteen came the exciting letter offering him a job with the Yankee Robinson Circus. That changed the pattern of his life and he began trouping.

The combined Sells-Floto and Buffalo Bill Wild West Show owner soon heard about this young musician and hired him for their bandmaster. His fame spread, and at the age of twenty-three he was directing the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band, the youngest man ever to hold that position.

As the circus traveled from one place to another,[123] Karl would find a quiet corner where he could compose music. He knew that better music was needed for the circus, and he wrote original and catchy marches and waltzes which were very popular with the performers.

While the circus was at Madison Garden in New York City, Lillian Leitzel, the great woman aerialist, asked him to write some special music for her act as she had never liked her music. King, inspired by her beauty and grace, wrote a special waltz for her act. The melody and rhythm gave her wings she insisted, and for the rest of her life she refused to have any change made in her musical accompaniment.

“In 1918,” said King, “I thought I should settle down and devote more time to my composing.” So he left the circus life and returned to Canton, Ohio, where he became the conductor of the famous Grand Army Band.

Two years later Karl King went to Fort Dodge, Iowa, to lead their municipal band, “the premier concert band of Iowa.” He established there the Karl King Publishing Company which he still owns and manages.

In spite of his colorful career, Karl King, a handsome, six-foot-four-inch giant with piercing dark eyes, is noted for his modesty and unassuming manners.

But he has reason to boast about many things. He has numerous devoted friends in the musical world who realize what he has done. He is past president of the American Bandmasters’ Association and of the Iowa Bandmasters’ Association. For years this militant and[124] enthusiastic champion of bands and band music has been a guest conductor of massed band festivals in nearly every state in the Union.

Karl King has written more than 200 compositions, some of which most people have heard in various places or over the radio. Among the college marches he wrote are: Hawkeye Glory for the University of Iowa; Mighty Minnesota for the University of Minnesota; The War March of the Tartars for Wayne University; and Pride of the Illini for the University of Illinois; and Michigan on Parade for University of Michigan. Ponderoso, Barnum and Bailey Favorite March and Moonlight on the Nile waltz are also favorites.

Maestro King is married and has one son, Karl Jr. Their home and business is in Fort Dodge, Iowa, and he is proud to direct the hometown band. Fort Dodge is proud of Karl King who, since 1920, has advertised their town the country over with one of the few big bands that has had a continuous existence of many years.


The municipal band of Hagerstown, Maryland, organized in 1915 has the city government solidly back of its well-known band and its noted leader, Dr. Peter Buys. Their summer concerts in the city park draw huge audiences and they are in demand for out-of-town engagements. Dr. Buys, composer, conductor,[125] and teacher, came to America from Amsterdam, Holland, in 1902. For nine years he arranged music for Sousa’s Band. Since 1920 he has been the Director of Music of Hagerstown. He has worked continuously with the pioneers in the band field and takes an active part in school band festivals and clinics over the country.

Dr. Peter Buys and Karl King have done a great service to our country by proving that a municipal band of high artistic merit can make a continued contribution to the cultural and entertainment life of their communities.


Everyone loves a parade, particularly if it has a band in it. For the better part of a century municipal festival parades have been a tradition in some of the large cities of our country from New York to California.

But one of the most fantastic is the Mummers’ Parade in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on New Years Day. It is said to have originated in the early 1800’s, when it was led by Eph Horn, the famous minstrel. However, the only records available tell of the first, an individual organization with three musicians—two fiddlers and one artist on the triangle. The first formal parade was held January 1, 1901, after the Council had decided to make it a city function.

Now the colorful parade is miles long and is made[126] up of three units—fancy, comic and string bands. King Momus, god of ridicule, is the leader of the parade. The Police, Firemen and PTC Bands at the beginning of the line start the procession rolling. But the swinging groups all march down Broad Street to the tinkling music of the string bands.

Some years there are as many as fifty string bands, spaced a block apart. In them from fifty to one hundred musicians play guitars, banjos, violins, saxophones, accordions, percussion instruments, and cymbals. Their theme song, Oh Dem Golden Slippers, is in keeping with the gold painted rubbers which the gay marchers always wear.

Their fancy costumes “as splendiferous as a parade of peacocks” cost thousands of dollars. In most clubs or units, the captain wears the showiest costume with a flowing satin or velvet cape a block long and requiring sixty or more page boys to support it. One headdress contained 300 plumes while another stood ten feet high and had 700 plumes with lights blinking on and off among them.

Philadelphia and the surrounding country is proud of its parades, and in fair weather more than a million people jam both sides of Broad Street to see Quakertown’s traditional pilgrimage.


Industrial Bands

Wanted! FIRST-CLASS BANDSMAN who has $500 or more to invest in an up-to-date job printing office; the business will invoice at $1,600. Party must be reliable and a first-class printer. Good opportunity for the right party.”

Advertisements like this were common in the early band days. Employers wanted workers who could also play a band instrument or “double in brass.” And such was the popularity of bands that often the job appealed to the worker only because he would be able to play in the town band. At first the bandsmen were not paid, even for their expenses; but later some communities donated money to help them.

In time the industries began to support their bands for they had found these organizations wonderful allies in spreading good will among their employees, communities and customers. Some companies gave band concert parties to their workers and their families. These were welcome events in the days of few social entertainments.

[128]One of the oldest industrial bands, the Altoona Works Band of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was organized in 1853 under the leadership of William Boyden. This group was always noted for its striking appearance. In 1885 twenty-six uniforms were purchased at a cost of $2,200, “the trimmings and buttons of which were gold-plated of the best quality.” The band played at the inauguration of President Harrison and at several of the inaugural celebrations and is still in existence with Albert Sincer of Altoona, Pennsylvania, as leader.

Outstanding among the smaller railroad bands was the Missouri-Kansas and Texas or “Katy” Band of Parsons, Kansas. The company employed a full-time music supervisor and in the 1920’s boasted five bands of white workers, one Mexican band and one Negro band. These popular groups played over the country at such functions as state fairs and in many places where a parade band was needed.

A great impetus had been given to the band movement when Charles G. Conn of Elkhart, Indiana, began turning out popular-priced horns. And incidentally, the band instrument industry began quite by accident. When Charles who had received a lip injury during the Civil War came home, he made an elastic rim on the metal mouthpiece of his own trumpet to protect his lip. Then his friends wanted the rims on theirs, and soon there was so much demand for them that he started making them, using a small shed for a factory. He went on to make the mouthpiece and finally[129] the instrument itself. Thus began the great C. G. Conn Ltd., business of today.

Soon other companies were organized and followed suit in a rush to make instruments; organize bands and help the musicians to buy the instruments. The movement spread and in 1898 it is said that there were 1,000 industrial bands marching in the streets of the United States and playing popular music of the Spanish-American War days.

Workers of all nationalities and occasionally executives of the companies played in these business organizations over the country. One millionaire industrialist, Felix Dupont, played baritone with the Wilmington, Delaware Police Band. Fifty-five musicians, employed in various departments of the Ford Motor Company in Detroit, Michigan, formed a typically American group. They represented eight nationalities—four English, ten Italians, fifteen Germans, ten Canadians, one French, one Scotch, two Polish and twelve Americans.

In 1914 the Willy-Overland Automobile Company of Toledo, Ohio, organized a similar fifty-piece band from various departments. Its personnel of molders, machinists, blacksmiths, coremakers, office workers, auto testers and common laborers all played the works of the old masters under the leadership of Gustav Koehler.

John Wanamaker Company in New York City had a famous band with fine leaders which it maintained in connection with the school work of its junior employees[130] until the New York Educational Law made it necessary to discontinue.

The American Rolling Mill Company (Armco) Band of Middletown, Ohio, was organized in 1921 by Frank Simon. For years it was a well-known company and community band, touring Ohio and adjacent states. Then the company sponsored Frank Simon and His Famous Band on the Armco NBC program for ten years. This band is no longer in existence as the American Rolling Mill Company changed its advertising policy at the close of the ten years, and dropped the band.

During depression years most of the industrial bands disappeared; but some companies, still feeling that they are a valuable asset, have organized new ones. The Caterpillar Tractor Company at Peoria, Illinois, is one of the several firms that keep up a concert band and a dance band for plant members and their families.


Like many men who have achieved success Frank Simon, celebrated bandmaster and cornet soloist, had to help support himself as a boy. “I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth,” he says, “but I came up the hard way, for which I have always been thankful.”

Frank’s parents, Sol and Bertha Simon, who operated[131] a small dry goods store in Middletown, Ohio, recognized their son’s talent in his early years.

In 1899 the ten-year-old boy began studying with the local bandmaster, Q. C. Buckles, who soon advised Mr. Simon to send his son to nearby Cincinnati for lessons. Frank studied there with W. J. Koop, then, first trumpet with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Soon he attracted the attention of Herman Bellstedt, eminent cornet master and military band expert, who gave him lessons and great encouragement.

In his early teens Frank was doing the work of a man. He played in the local Middletown Theater for road shows and also led a dance band. At sixteen he directed the hometown band until he was hired by John C. Weber of Cincinnati as the cornet soloist of his Prize Band of America. Through the next few years young Simon toured the country with it and other professional groups.

Soon the music world was talking about Frank Simon’s skillful cornet playing. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra offered him a job in their orchestra, a position he held for three years.

In 1914 Sousa asked him to be his cornet soloist and the assistant to Herbert L. Clarke. Upon Clarke’s retirement from the band five years later, Frank Simon succeeded him as premier soloist and assistant leader.

But after two more years with Sousa, Simon wanted to create a great band of his own. In 1920 he accepted an offer from the American Rolling Mill Company to organize and conduct an industrial band for them.[132] Made up of fine musicians, this well-known organization successfully advertised its sponsor at many important events in our country and in Canada.

In 1930 when radio came into its own, Frank Simon reorganized his band as a purely professional group. He engaged fifty talented Cincinnati musicians for his great symphonic band which made an outstanding record of broadcasting for ten years under one sponsor, The American Rolling Mill Company. Simon endeared himself to young people by presenting on each weekly broadcast some soloist or ensemble, selected from one of our American school bands. This program became one of the most popular on the air.

During this time Simon saw the need of keeping step with the times and asked Ferde Grofe, eminent modern composer, to write some new compositions for his band. A modern strain was added to his concert band programs in the playing of numbers from Grofe’s Grand Canyon and other suites, but they did not replace the finest of classical music in these broadcasts.

Among the honors and distinctions awarded Frank Simon is a Doctor of Music degree conferred upon him by Capital College, Columbus, Ohio, “in recognition of his efforts in the advancement of bands in the United States.”

In 1932 Dr. Simon was appointed Director of the Band Department of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. He at once established a band department in the Cincinnati Conservatory which has attracted thousands of young talented players to the school. Since[133] the Armco Band left the air, Dr. Simon has taken on other duties besides his responsibilities at the Conservatory. He has been in popular demand as guest conductor, judge and lecturer at band festivals and school band clinics in all parts of the country.

But this has not interfered with his leadership of the artistic concert band of about 150 musicians at the Conservatory. He gives several concerts a year, featuring their outstanding vocalists and instrumentalists and playing the best in band literature. His 65-piece radio symphonic band has given local and national broadcasts.

Dr. and Mrs. Simon have two sons, David and Joseph. The older is a doctor connected with the Jewish Hospital in Cincinnati, and Joseph is with a radio station in Mason City, Iowa.

Dr. Simon has two hobbies, fishing and baseball. But his major hobby might be said to be young people, for his devotion to young musicians of the nation is widely recognized.

“Hundreds of my students are now engaged professionally in symphony orchestras, radio and recording and in our educational institutions throughout the land,” said Dr. Simon. “This, of course, is a source of great pride to me.”


The Salvation Army Band

In Three Colts Lane in an old wool-shed
Glory, Hallelujah!
We frighten the living and raise the dead,
Sing Glory, Hallelujah,
Shout Glory, Hallelujah!
And while the rats were running round,
The boys and girls Salvation found.

William Booth began the work of his Christian Mission in the poorest slums of London in 1865. He had determined to preach the Gospel to the masses of people who were not members of any church. The beginning was hard. Rough crowds gathered along the streets, shouting, yelling, pelting Booth and his followers with stones, mud or old vegetables. Many times the ‘Salvationists’ were forced to don clean uniforms before taking their places in their meeting.

But Booth and his workers were brave and persistent. They soon realized that singing, even when occasionally aided by a cornet, tambourine or drums, was not suitable music to lead their crusade. In England in that period, brass bands were at the peak of their popularity. Fortunately, just at that time—1878—the Fry family, a group of successful instrumentalists[135] were converted to Booth’s cause. They offered the services of their brass quartette, and soon a brass band became a necessary part of the Salvation Army.

It was a wise choice. Trumpet tones and drum beats could silence an unruly mob, and also carry the hymn tunes far and wide over the crowd. Not only could a band play effectively in the open air, but the players were able to carry the instruments and march as they produced the music.

The Christian Mission was reorganized in a military fashion. The name was changed to the Salvation Army with General Booth at the head. The Salvation Army brass bands began to multiply rapidly.

In 1880 George Scott Railton, an officer in General Booth’s Salvation Army, arrived in New York from London. With him came seven fine, wholesome-looking young women to aid in bringing Christianity to the poor, down-and-out slum dwellers in America’s greatest city.

This small group of Salvationists was well aware of the valuable help given by band instruments in their work. But on this first appearance in the Bowery they had to depend on their voices alone. The little company had sailed across the Atlantic in the steerage where there was no room for their trumpets, drums and other instruments. Bravely they marched along the street singing hymns set to the tunes of the popular songs of those days.

The words of All Around the World the Salvation Army Rolls were sung to the tune of Old Black Joe.[136] What a Friend We Have in Jesus was fitted to the tender melody of In the Gloaming. These and many other touching songs brought numerous converts from among the listeners.

Before many months had passed Commissioner Railton found a number of instrumental players among his members. Instruments were collected, a brass band was assembled to inspire the people and “banding”—the Salvation Army’s word for it—began in America. Songs had a great influence in this religious campaign, especially when accompanied by a good brass band. The rhythmic, catchy tunes were carried to the watching crowd and many an unsavory barrage of stale eggs or tomatoes was stopped by the strains of the music.

As a “militant religious” order, the Salvation Army naturally follows the military-like rules and regulations issued by the International Headquarters in London. These rules apply to bands as all band members are required to belong to the Salvation Army. They must obey all regulations pertaining to their habits, their personal living, religious beliefs, wearing of the uniforms and their support of the organization.

The Salvation Army Band’s top man is the bandmaster who is responsible for all the music produced by the organization. He chooses the band members after each one has been carefully investigated by the Salvation Army authorities. The bandmaster also trains his group, and conducts the rehearsals and concerts.

The bandleader, or band Sergeant, conducts the religious services for the band members only. He is[137] responsible for their spiritual welfare. It is he who gives the bandsmen advice, counsel and discipline. According to an unwritten law, each bandsman—unless previously released by an acceptable excuse—attends every rehearsal and engagement throughout the entire year.

The officers of the Salvation Army are chosen from the soldiers in the ranks, who have had a high school education. They receive nine months’ training in one of the four Salvation Army Schools. This is a varied course which even includes instruction in how to choose a wife or a husband. No officers are permitted to marry anyone not in the Salvation Army, nor without the consent of their superior officers. Army wives always hold the same rank as their husbands.

Cadets, in addition to their other courses, learn to play several musical instruments, including the accordion, euphonium, trumpets and trombones. They are graduated as a probationary Lieutenant. After one year of correspondence study—still on strict probation—they are given the commission of 2nd Lieutenant and the standing of ordained ministers of the Gospel. Their training continues through various ranks: 1st Lieutenant, Captain, Major, in staff as Brigadier, Lieutenant Colonel, Colonel, Lieutenant Commissioner to Commissioner.

The Salvation Army bands are in three different grades. The top-ranking ones are the various Headquarters Staff Bands, all well-trained, expert musicians. The Corps bands come second—there are many of them—more bands of this class than in any other[138] musical organization in the world except school bands. One night each week band rehearsal is held in each Corps hall and all the youngsters in the neighborhood gather there, welcome to listen and learn. Many Corps bands hold a summer camp, two weeks or more, for young musicians who are anxious to play in a band.

The third band group is selected from the young people of the Salvation Army with fully 18,000 members. These youth organizations are feeders for the Corps bands. Many young musicians have been helped by this organization. When a boy, Harry James—the famous trumpeter—played in a Salvation Army band in Texas. George Paxton also took his early instruction on the cornet in a Salvation Army boy’s band in Newark, New Jersey.

No members of a Salvation Army receives any salary for his services. James Petrillo once asked a bandsman in a street corner Salvation Army band “What union do you belong to?” “The Union of God,” the player answered. Petrillo made no reply but threw a coin on the drum as he passed on.

The Salvation Army in the United States is divided into four territories and each has a music secretary who directs all the musical activities in his section. At present, these officers and their territories are as follows:

Brigadier William Broughton—West—San Francisco
Major Frank Longino—South—Atlanta
Captain Richard E. Holz—East—New York
Lieutenant Bernard Smith—Central—Chicago

[139]There are approximately 700 large, all-brass Salvation Army bands in this country. These are among the most outstanding:

Flint Citadel (Michigan)
Oakland Citadel (California)
Boston Palace (Massachusetts)
Detroit Citadel (Michigan)
Lehigh Citadel (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Brooklyn Citadel (New York)
Los Angeles Congress Hall (California)
Syracuse Citadel (New York)
Atlanta Temple (Georgia)
New York Temple (New York)
San Francisco Citadel (California)

The International Staff Band at the Headquarters in London is perhaps the most widely-known of these Salvation Army bands. Many prominent official positions and men of noted various professions may be found playing beside a music-loving laborer or some one in a lowly walk of life.

The New York City Staff Band of thirty men was organized in 1887 and has played continuously ever since. This is the most famous Salvation Army band in the United States. Brigadier William E. Bearchell, the bandmaster, is an outstanding musician, versatile and talented. He is a composer, a chorus conductor, organist and former bandmaster of the Brooklyn Citadel Corps Band, which was then known as one of the finest Salvation Army bands in America.

The New York City Staff Band is remarkable for its distinctive tone color. This is due to the use of several unusual instruments: the flugel-horn, the E-flat cornet and the G-trombone. The handle of this trombone[140] slides the slide down farther than other trombones and makes the tone much deeper.

This famous band has given many concerts throughout Canada, toured England where they played at Buckingham Palace, Crystal Palace and various famous places in London. They have played at the White House for every President since Theodore Roosevelt first invited them. They have been heard in New York at the Metropolitan Opera House, Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Garden, at the World’s Fair, and in great halls, universities and cathedrals in all parts of the United States.

The Chicago Staff Band of the Central Territory Headquarters is another nationally-famous band. This organization is highly rated by music circles in the United States. With their outstanding bandmaster, Captain Carl Lindstrom, these thirty bandsmen were recently guests of the Texas Music Educators’ Convention.

In 1883 a music publishing department was established in London. There all vocal and instrumental music was carefully edited and published. This was in accordance with the rule that all music used in the Salvation Army must be composed or arranged by its members and published by the organization. This regulation is to insure the use of music that is absolutely suitable for the service in order to obtain the proper atmosphere and results. Good, appropriate music is essential. The Salvation Army music is not intended for the use of the public but for the Army alone.

[141]The music material is thoroughly screened. Each number is played by the Headquarters Staff Band for the Music Editorial Board, which carefully judges its fitness and desirability.

Today in the United States the Salvation Army music is published in San Francisco, Chicago and New York under the same rules and restrictions as were originally observed in London. The instruments used by the Salvation Army bands all over the world, are made in the Army’s instrument factories at St. Albans, England. As with the Army music, these instruments are sold only to Salvationists.

No longer can the music of the Salvation Army be classed as cheap or inferior. For more than fifty years, high-ranking musicians, composers, and outstanding performers on various musical instruments have successfully done their part to build and keep the music and the bands of the Salvation Army to a high standard of content and performance.

While contributions to Salvation Army Music are made by musicians from all parts of the globe, three of the most prominent composers are Americans. They are Erik Leidzen, considered by many as the foremost arranger for bands in the world today; Emil Soderstrom, staff arranger for NBC in Chicago; and Brigadier William Broughton, who has written more music for the use of the Salvation Army than any other American composer.

That the Salvation Army bands have achieved a high rating is proven by the interest shown in them by[142] Sousa in his time and by today’s noted bandleader, Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman. And also by Albert Spalding, Marian Anderson and other “greats” in the music world who have appeared on the Salvation Army Band programs.

The Salvation Army bands proclaim salvation through their music. It sustains the religious feelings, spirit, and fervor of the converts. Salvationists regard their music as the greatest part of their religious service. Some officers say it is fully sixty per cent more effective than their preaching.

That the Salvation Army follows the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers is true: “the first duty of music is to ennoble the soul.” Perhaps the musicians of the Salvation Army have come closer to the real use and meaning of music. They know its power to rescue hardened souls from sin, to inspire the disheartened with courage, to do right and to instill new joy into saddened lives.


“Captain Holz? I’m sorry sir, he just left with the band. They’re giving a half-hour concert on the steps of the Sub-Treasury building down in Wall Street. Helen Jepson of the Metropolitan Opera is going to sing with them today. You might call the Captain here in about three-quarters of an hour.” And the man at the information desk in the large lobby of the headquarters[143] of the New York Salvation Army, smilingly turned to the next in the waiting line.

Even as the telephone conversation began the tall, young Captain had been climbing into a crowded auto that had been waiting at the curb in front of the huge Centennial Memorial Temple.

Captain Holz is indeed a busy man. As the Territorial Music Secretary, of the Eastern division of the Salvation Army, he is directly responsible for all the music activities in eleven eastern states. This means that Captain Holz supervises 266 Salvation Army bands as well as small instrumental groups and vocal choruses and glee clubs. He also directs the New York Temple chorus of more than 100 voices. In addition, the Captain is Deputy Bandmaster of the famous New York Headquarters Staff Band, conductor of its fine male chorus and also of the Brass Octette.

Captain Holz is thoroughly accustomed to the life of a soldier in this “militant religious” order. He is a fourth generation Salvationist, born in the Salvation Army, when his father Brigadier Ernest Holz was in charge of the Salvation Army Corps in Pittston, Pennsylvania.

A move to the Southwest sent Richard to high school in Oklahoma City. There, following his bent, at the age of sixteen, he was conductor of the Salvation Army band. He attended the University of Oklahoma, majoring in music education. Young Mr. Holz came to New York in 1935, worked in the Public Relations Department at the Territorial Headquarters and at the same time continued his college studies at[144] the New York University. In 1937, he entered the Salvation Army Training College in New York, received his Commission and was appointed a Corps officer in Elizabeth, New Jersey.

Captain Richard Holz and Lieutenant Ruby Walker were married at the Centennial Memorial Temple in New York on January 7, 1941. Commissioner Richard E. Holz, the grandfather of the groom performed the marriage ceremony, and the Headquarters Staff Band provided the music for the happy occasion. The young couple made their home in Elizabeth until Captain Holz was appointed in the United States First Air Force in April 1943.

Even during the War, music continued to be one of the Captain’s chief interests when his Salvation Army trumpet “Shorty” sounded church calls and accompanied the singing. At Laurinburg—Maxton Army Air Base—he received glider training with the Airborne Troops in the Troop Carrier Command. And as chaplain of the 872nd and 882nd Airborne Engineers, he served in New Guinea, Leyte and Okinawa. Captain Holz was with the first group of Americans to enter Japan when, on September 1st, 1945, he and his jeep “Sweet Chariot” were flown to Tokio.

It was upon his return from service in the United States Army that Captain Holz was appointed Territorial Music Secretary of the Eastern Section of the Salvation Army. He has written a number of musical compositions. His works, as well as that of other outstanding musicians, have noticeably improved the quality of the music of the Salvation Army.

[145]Captain Holz believes that many of the new attractive ideas found in modern dance music “can be used just as easily in the service of the Lord as in bebop.” Many of the well-known band and orchestra leaders, early in their music experience played in Salvation Army bands. The bands of Stan Kenton and Woody Herman are two of the Captain’s favorites.

Another one of Captain Holz’s duties—not a minor job either—he is Editor of the Salvation Army Music Publishing Department at the New York Headquarters. Many musicians say that the best Salvation Army music in this country comes from this department.

At this time Captain Holz is arranging a Salvation Army Hymnal for Youth and also is putting the finishing touches on an instruction method for cornet, horn, baritone, tuba and trombone.


Merle Evans, Toscanini of the Big Top

See the waltzing horses keeping time to the music of the band, Johnny!” exclaimed one of the many fathers who had taken his son to the circus. The horses seemed to be crossing their slender legs to the beat of the music, and at each boom of the drums they reared gracefully.

But Johnny’s father didn’t know that Merle Evans, bandmaster of the Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus, was keeping his third eye on the waltzing, glossy-coated horses and directing his band to follow them. Merle says that he uses three eyes during performances—one to watch his music and one to glance at his players, but the third one never misses anything that goes on under the Big Top.

Actually, horses learn to dance without music. Evans watches them go through the intricate steps taught by the trainers. Then he chooses a composition to match the rhythm of their dance, usually a waltz or a galop.

Merle Evans, the Toscanini of the Big Top, is now in his thirty-second year as leader of the Ringling[147] Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus twenty-seven-piece Band. During this time he has not missed a single performance out of more than 14,000 engagements, and he has no assistant.

Merle began his musical career at an early age, and his cornet has been an obsession ever since. His first teachers were the local musicians in his hometown of Columbus, Kansas, where he was born fifty some years ago. At the age of ten he was playing in the town band. For the next few years he practiced six hours every day. He listened to such “greats” as Clarke, Sousa and Gilmore then tried to copy their phrasing, tones and style.

Merle says, “I came up the hard way. I was never able to study at famous conservatories or under famous teachers. But I believed that if you work hard, treat people right and keep looking up to better things all the time, your time will come.”

And Merle’s opportunity did come at the age of fifteen when he was asked to sign up with the “Mighty Brundage Shows,” a traveling carnival. His parents and sisters tearfully bade him goodby. His mother was worried about the bad company he would keep, but his letters soon assured her that in the circus there must be a strict schedule of rehearsal, right living and sound training. Merle had little leisure time as his job included playing in the band, helping to set up the props and working the carousel.

Merle next signed up with a band on a show boat on the Mississippi River. In the towns where they[148] gave shows, the band led the parades. He not only learned much from this larger band, but he had time to practice five hours a day.

A succession of jobs followed. While working for a touring medicine show, Merle played his cornet to attract the crowd then turned to packing pills into bottles to sell to them. From this work he went to the National Stock Company which opened up in Baton Rouge. He says, “I not only led the band, but I also took the tickets and worked the pulleys for the ‘Saw Mill.’ This act was the climax of the show, a thriller act where a young girl narrowly escaped being sawed in two.”

In 1918 Merle went out with Gus Hill’s Minstrel Band of twenty-eight musicians. This was a busy life of long parades and long programs. About this time he realized that he should be looking for a better job. He had heard the great Sousa several times and he yearned to have a band like his.

Things began looking up for Merle when Ranch 101 hired him to play for its huge Wild West show whose main attraction was Buffalo Bill. Merle recalls, “Buffalo Bill used to stop to talk to me about my music and encourage me to keep on with it.” Soon at the age of nineteen Merle was asked to lead the band for the combined Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Since that time Maestro Evans has truly been the pulse of “The Greatest Show on Earth.” He and his all-brass array play more than 225 different cues during[149] each show. The music ranges from Big Time Boogie to selections by Wagner and Tchaikovsky. The typical galops and marches that they play were composed mostly by men whose ears were tuned to the sounds and atmosphere of the kingdom of spangles.

But special music has been written for the Merle Evans Band by the distinguished composers, Deems Taylor and Igor Stravinsky. The musical scores, Circus Suite and Through the Looking Glass, Deems Taylor wrote for the 1945 plot of Alice in Wonderland. Stravinsky’s music was arranged for the first elephant ballet ever to be staged. Fifty elephants in fetching ballet skirts performed a dance routine whose music called for elaborate changes of rhythm.

For a number of years Evans himself composed most of the original music and made the musical arrangements for the star acts—waltzes, foxtrots, marches, galops, rhumbas, tangoes, cakewalks, or various combinations of rhythms. He did this while the circus was in winter quarters at Sarasota, Florida, where the next years’ productions are prepared. “Music has changed a lot since I joined the big show,” Merle said recently. “Now we have much of it arranged for our band. We also have production numbers—and that is special music.”

Aerialists have said that it is rhythm that makes it possible for them to accomplish the seemingly impossible in their flying trapeze acts. Sometimes Evans spends much time and effort finding the appropriate music for them. When Alberty, the “upside-down[150] daredevil,” needed music to accompany his swaying back and forth atop a forty-five-foot pole, Evans finally chose Pagan Love Song, a slow waltz.

He must combine different melodies and rhythms to make the varied pattern needed for times such as the swooping of The Famous Ringling 100 Clowns into the show. But the music, like a colorful backdrop, sets off these boisterous buffoons as they bustle, blunder, or rush hither and thither in baffled confusion. For the clowns’ entrance, the band plays High Riding and for a clown “walk around” they play The Anvil Chorus.

Evans spends about eight weeks preparing the circus score, and of course that is subject to change during the thirty-two-week season. The bandsmen must be drilled on the new material and rehearsed on the routine so that they are ready when the circus opens at Madison Square Garden in New York each April.

The veteran bandmaster and his men present a splendid picture in their blue uniforms with red-striped trousers. His musicians come from various backgrounds—some even from symphony orchestras. Theirs is a difficult routine as they average seven hours of playing a day. They must be constantly alert and have the ability to adjust instantly to any possible change in rhythm.

The band has a repertoire of memorized selections to play at a moment’s notice in time of need. Sometimes death flies along with the circus actors’ thrilling performances. Gay marches are used to cover up accidents.[151] When Sousa’s Stars and Stripes Forever suddenly breaks into any other music, it means just one thing—“All Out!” The circus people call it The Disaster March.

Evans had to use this march in 1944 at Hartford, Connecticut, during the worst fire in circus history. He was one of the first to see the flames racing along the top and he immediately swung into the Sousa march, leading loud with his cornet. Hearing the strains roll forth like a call to arms, the bull man in the back yard shouted, “Tails!” and forty elephants hooked up trunks and tails and swung out of the lot into the street. Trainers rounded up wild animals—not one remained loose. Troupers mobilized to direct the crowd out.

Evans and his band literally split the rafters repeating the stirring march until the kettle drums caught fire. Only when the main pole began to sway did he give the order, “Jump!” and the men cleared the stand. In this heroic action Evans’s band had again proven that circus bandsmen must be alert men of iron nerves and perfect control.

Merle Evans, self-made musician, has enjoyed an illustrious career. Besides his circus work, he has directed bands in the Middle West, on the coasts and in Europe—in programs that have included Bach, Brahms, Tchaikovsky and Beethoven. He has taught the art of cornet playing in universities of Texas. He has made recordings for Columbia, and an album entitled Circus was cut in the late thirties.

[152]During the winter seasons of 1921, 1922 and 1923, Evans went to London to direct the International Circus band at Olympia. Members of bands of Welsh, Scotch, Irish and the Coldstream Guards made up the group that he led. They played at St. James or at Buckingham Castle in the morning and at Olympia in the afternoon and evening. Merle said, “I believe I am the only bandleader that ever went to Europe alone.”

Recently during the winter seasons, Ringling Brothers-Barnum and Bailey Circus has taken its feature acts from Sarasota, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, for five weeks of performances, at the Sports Palace, there Evans, taking his double drummer and organ, used fourteen Cuban musicians for his band. He said, “I had men from the Havana Symphony and from the Police, the Navy, the Army and the Municipal Bands. They surely did a fine job, too!”

Besides playing concerts for state fairs and other Florida groups, during the winter, Merle finds time in February to play three weeks for School Assembly Service in different parts of the country. At the different high schools he rehearses the bands in playing circus music in the morning. Then that is given as an assembly program.

“I play cornet with the band,” Merle says, “I use a whistle and change the music just as we do for acts in the circus, and you would be surprised how well they can do it.” In addition, he gives a talk on his experiences in the show business.

Merle has two obsessions—his love for popcorn and[153] his love for his cornet. He must have his daily ration of the former both summer and winter. After a hard day’s work he relaxes at home by playing cornet solos or listening to good records—with a bowl of popcorn nearby.

Super-bandmaster Merle Evans has made a lasting name for himself—not only in circus band music but in concert band music as well.

The story of the Merle Evans Circus Band is in a big way the story of all modern circus bands.

However it is far removed from those of yesterday. At the turn of the nineteenth century, the circus had one or two fiddlers to furnish the music for their shows. But more often the owners relied upon the players they could get to help out in the towns where they appeared. The owner himself furnished the music in the John Robinson Circus, which made its debut in 1854. John propped his chair against a center pole and fiddled away while the bareback riders rode their cavorting horses and the acrobats performed their dangerous stunts.

A rival circus, Quick and Mead, boasted a two-man band with a hurdy-gurdy and a bass drum. The hurdy-gurdy player was a specialist hired for that job alone. But various members of the company took turns as parade drummers, sometimes with more noise than rhythm.

Doubling as musicians was the usual thing after the circus parade became a big feature of show day. Then clowns were required to fill in as musicians, and there[154] were some very fine “clown musicians” such as the renowned Adler. A clown band not only marched in the lineup but usually played during part of the big show program. Sometimes the ticket sellers helped out. Gradually the size of the bands increased until there were as many as thirty musicians.

Then as now everything centered around the circus band. The um-pahs blaring forth from the marchers or from the top of the big, gayly painted band wagon drawn by eight coal-black horses became an unforgettable part of the memory of children and adults.

After the parade the band played an hour’s concert under the big top. The immense drum, on wheels fully six feet high, emitted tremendous booms as it was drawn about the arena.

During the acts that followed, the bass drummer could make or break an act. Acrobats, riders, and clowns timed their tricks to the boom of the drum. Stunts such as the midget rider falling off his horse, catching it by the tail, and lifting himself into the saddle with a thump were much funnier with the drum’s booms. The clown’s awkward falls and his antics which involved noises like exploding cigars were always accented by the thud of the bass drum at the right moment. Sometimes the bandmaster in order to amuse the audience would pick up the rhythm of the movements of a latecomer who was vainly trying to locate his family. And there seemed to be a march for every occasion and situation.

Now all that is changed. Ablaze with color and pageantry[155] as the modern circus is, its band must furnish the circus atmosphere, during the entire performance. Besides playing an half-hour concert at the beginning of the show, it binds the acts together, as well as furnish the rhythm and swing to the individual acts.

The bandsmen today must be musicians of ability and of great endurance. In parade days they often played as many as fifty marches, but now the larger circus bands play more than 200 pieces during a three-hour performance. Frequently they must change tempo and score to follow the change of routine in some animal act. If a panther decides to “slink” instead of taking a bow as he usually does at that time, the band must instantly synchronize its music to the panther’s movements. It must be ready and alert to meet any emergency. There is not a moment’s relaxation during the two shows a day.

However a circus bandsman, like other members of the Big Top family, gets one whiff of tanbark and sawdust in his nostrils and is lost to other fields of music forever.


College and University Bands

Almost every college has its football team and its band, and every year some of these bands put on exhibitions which rival great Broadway shows. But these organizations have come a long way since college bands began.

The first entertainments staged by the bands at football games usually consisted of formation of the initials of the opposing teams. Year by year their efforts became more ambitious and the results grew more elaborate. Today they carry out intricate designs with perfect precision while the appropriate music rolls on directed by one or more strutting drum majors whirling their gleaming batons high in the air.

Spectacular formations have included a flag with a “C” inside it, which waved as the band played “Wave the Flag for Old Chicago.” Another was a stalk of corn that “grew” on the fifty-yard line in honor of the University of Iowa. A giant clock was portrayed with a second-hand that moved around telling the time accurately. The word “Ohio” appeared changing into[157] “Auto” with the O’s as wheels so it rolled down the field.

Other figures showed a “Gopher” for Minnesota, a “Mustang” for Southern Methodist, a “Trojan Horse” for Southern California and a “Wildcat” for Northwestern.

These shows have to be exactly timed to a split-second for there are just fifteen minutes in the period between halves. When both college bands are present, each one has only a brief 7½ minutes for its performance although there must have been hours and hours of practicing both the marching and the music.

In addition to the marching band many colleges and universities have concert bands and often well-trained orchestras. These band departments are under full-time conductors and bandmasters and the players receive full college credits.


For many years the University of Illinois Band has been called the “largest, finest college band in the world.” 360 to 380 members are on its rolls. It consists of three organizations: the concert band and the first and second regimental bands. The highest ranking unit is the concert band of from 115 to 125 pieces. Membership in the three bands is based on the student’s proficiency.

[158]The Illinois University Band is used by the entire University, playing for all special occasions, commencement and other events. The football marching band is made up of the concert band, the first regimental band and at times it is aided by some members of the second. Frequently the band plays over local radio stations.

The football marching band is made up of the concert band and the first regimental group, two-hundred or more bandsmen. It makes an impressive appearance in the brilliant orange and blue uniforms, every instrument held in proper position and every movement in perfect unison.

A picturesque figure precedes the great band. One of the men representing Chief Illiniwek, the symbol of the fighting Illini, dressed in the traditional Sioux Indian costume, does an Indian dance down the field in front of the band.


The Illinois University Bands, famed not only for size but also for the excellent quality of their playing, owe their reputation to Doctor Albert A. Harding, for so long a time their leader. Through many years his was the outstanding name among college band conductors in the United States.

“Austin” was born in Georgetown, Illinois, but after his mother’s death when he was a small boy, he[159] lived with his grandparents in the little town of Paris, Illinois.

He acquired his first musical training by tooting a cheap brass cornet in a practice room which was actually an old barn. His music rack was the dashboard of an antiquated sleigh.

His grandfather, a loyal Democrat, was quite disgusted when his grandson played his horn in a Republican rally for William McKinley. “Aus,” as the boy was called, was asked to learn the fife and play in a fife and drum corps organized by the Illinois State Republican Committee. Instead the boy bought a piccolo and became such an expert player that he was appointed leader of the high school band. After his graduation young Harding became leader of a dance orchestra, playing for dances in Champaign and Urbana, Illinois; Terre Haute, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Upon entering the University of Illinois, Harding majored in Engineering and also kept on with his musical activities. He played in the University band as well as in several local organizations. In 1905, his senior year, Harding was asked to direct the University band of about fifty pieces. This position Harding held for forty-three years, building—according to John Philip Sousa—“the greatest college band in the country.”

Harding was a kindly, sympathetic man, always friendly and helpful to his students. He originated the popular Band Clinics, now grown to state, regional[160] and national scope. Another of Dr. Harding’s creative ideas was the use of a-capella singing without instruments on the football field. The “March of the Illini” sung in this way always ended the half-time show in a football game. He also introduced the popular, marching-type glockenspiel, called the “bell-lyra,” because of its lyre-shaped frame.

From the time Harding began with the band in 1905, he trained it in accordance with his belief that a university band should reflect the quality and dignity of the university itself. He always had the theory that the band should play the same type music that is played by the orchestra. He insisted that at least a part of the program should consist of symphonic music.

Dr. Harding received many honors during his years of service in the University. His fame was widespread. In 1936 the music publishers of Great Britain paid Harding’s expenses to England and Europe to obtain his advice and counsel on music publication matters. He was treated with the honors usually accorded a visiting ruler.

In 1941 at the first University and College Band Conference, Harding was unanimously elected Honorary President for life. He was given the high military honor of a Colonel in the Illinois National Guard on the Governor’s staff. Both the Phillips University of Oklahoma and Davidson College of North Carolina awarded Harding the honorary degree of Doctor of Music. He has been guest conductor of many of the[161] most famous bands ever assembled in the United States, and has served as adjudicator of thirty state band contests and four National meets.

Doctor Harding not only directed the vast activities of the University bands and orchestra, but during his years of service he put in countless hours of night work, transcribing, composing and arranging music for these groups. There is little music published with parts for an organization of more than 350 men. But Harding’s knowledge of the range and quality of every variety of instrument and his great talent enabled him to provide much original material for his great band.

Because of his deep admiration for Harding, John Philip Sousa bequeathed his huge band library to the University of Illinois. This band department now possesses one of the most complete musical libraries in this country.


In 1934 Mark H. Hindsley became Assistant Director of the Illinois University Band. He has since worked constantly with Dr. Harding with the exception of the time he spent in military service during 1942-1946.

Professor Hindsley was graduated “with high distinction” from Indiana University in 1925. He was one of five men chosen as a Rhodes Fellowship contestant.[162] He received his A.M. degree from the same university in 1927, and at that time was awarded a Phi Beta Kappa key.

His thorough musical education was continued in a number of well-known schools of music, including the University of Illinois; and the Sherwood School of Music, Chicago. Professor Hindsley was Director of Bands and Music Instructor for four years at his Alma Mater. His next position was Director of Instrumental Music at Cleveland Heights, Ohio, 1929-1934. From there he went to assist Dr. Harding, becoming Acting-Director of the University Band of Illinois in 1948. Upon Dr. Harding’s retirement in 1950, Professor Hindsley succeeded him as Head of the Band Department.

Professor Hindsley’s professional experience has been broadened by extensive summer teaching in a dozen or more of the big-name universities. He has been in great demand as a guest conductor and adjudicator of contests. As a composer and writer on musical subjects Professor Hindsley has achieved a wide reputation. He is also the recipient of many honors and honorary memberships in Musical and Educational associations.



Several decades ago a drum major in a Michigan University Band tossed his shining baton high over the goal post. This stunt was copied by nearly every college band in this country. A tradition exists at Ann Arbor that at each football game the drum major must thus throw his baton on high and catch it if the Michigan team is to win.

The University of Michigan Band was first mentioned in the school annals of 1844. It was then an organization of nine men. From that time through three score years and ten the band led an intermittent existence. In 1895 it was recognized officially when the Board of Regents ordered the band to furnish music at football games, during Commencement week and for other social events. Three years later the Athletic Association purchased the first uniforms for the musicians.

Captain Wilfred Wilson in 1915 became a member of the faculty, to teach band instruments and conduct the band of seventy members. The next director, Mr. Larson, who served for one year, was followed by Nicholas Falcone. His work was very successful through a long period.

William D. Revelli succeeded Falcone in 1935 and under his skillful leadership the University of Michigan[164] Band has become outstanding among all University bands of the country. “A model band” it is called by one of the most prominent conductors in the United States.

This organization is composed of three units: the Wolverine Marching Band, Varsity Band and the Concert Band. There is a combined membership of more than 250.

The Marching Band admits no women players. The other two units accept both men and women, but only those who are extremely competent can become members of any division of this university band. In addition, each member must meet all scholastic requirements and pass the physical examination. The Varsity Band is, of course, a feeder for the Concert and Marching Bands. The Wolverine Marching Band has established a wide reputation for perfect precision in marching and in making intricate formations on the football field.

The University of Michigan’s Symphonic Band numbers about one hundred members. It is rated throughout the United States as an unusually fine concert band. Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman, the famous New York bandmaster has said, “The University of Michigan Symphony Band stands without a peer among college bands.”

A late issue of a national magazine is quoted as saying: “It steps fastest and plays best of the college outfits that provide music and spectacle on football fields. The Michigan College Marching Band is to today’s football what frosting is to cake. The brassy music and[165] resplendent uniforms are as spirited a part of the spectacle as the game itself.

“In the past few decades the country’s 500 college and university bands have perfected a type of music and military choreography that by now has become a specialized American popular art form.

“This art form reached a peak at the University of Michigan—Revelli.”


Dr. William D. Revelli is generally recognized today as one of the leading band conductors of the United States. He received an extensive musical training, having studied under such noted instructors as Felix Borowski, Leon Sametini, Charles Spadoni, L. V. Saar and George Dasch. His education was continued at the Beethoven Music Conservatory in St. Louis, the Chicago Musical College, Columbia Music School and the Vandercook School of Music in Chicago.

In 1925 Dr. Revelli was appointed Supervisor of Music in the Hobart, Indiana public schools, a post which he held for ten years. From there he went to the University of Michigan as Conductor of Bands and Wind Instruments. At that time Revelli was the only instructor of the Band Department with its ninety-six members. Today it lists seventeen instructors for its more than 350 bandsmen.

Through almost a score of years Dr. Revelli has upheld[166] the highest ideals for perfect band performances by all the units of the Michigan University Bands. These high standards have exerted a great influence upon all college and university music organizations over the country. This conductor believes that a College band is of the greatest help to a student majoring in music. It gives him “opportunity for concert ensemble experience, a knowledge of music theory, composition, conducting and social contacts as well as skill in performing.”

In June, 1947, in acknowledgement of his worthwhile work in the field of music, the degree of Doctor of Music was given Mr. Revelli by the Chicago Musical College. Many other honors have been awarded this great music master: he was made a member of the Board of Directors of the American Bandmasters’ Association, member of Alpha Kappa Lamda, Phi Mu Alpha, Honorary National Grand President of Kappa Kappa Psi and of many other Societies. For about fifteen years Dr. Revelli has edited the Band Department of the Etude, a leading music magazine, and for more than five years he has been editor of the Michigan Band Series.

Each year, in every part of the United States Dr. Revelli makes numerous appearances as a guest conductor, a clinician or a judge of band festivals. Without doubt he is one of the country’s outstanding band conductors.


High School Bands

The first World War and the service bands marching in uniforms made the people of America band conscious. The trumpets and cornets rang out boldly in Over There and Tipperary, while the saxophones moaned their way through Avalon and Roses of Picardy. Everyone whistled or sang K-K-K-Katy, Beautiful Katy or Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag. Then the War ended and the mood faded.

Radios came into general use. A few fine bands and orchestras were assembled by the large radio companies. Their new records, perfectly produced, became widely popular. People found it unnecessary to travel to cities to hear good music, and thousands of trained bandsmen were left without jobs. The manufacturers of band instruments suffered great losses in their business until they discovered a new field in working with high school bands.

American youth ran wild with the “school band” idea, but with capable instruction and supervision the amateur organizations soon became worthwhile projects. The ex-soldier bandsmen jumped at chances to[168] teach and direct high school bands. The instrument makers sold them the various instruments on reasonable terms and the music dealers generously furnished the music at reduced rates.

Financial aid was made possible by the Landers Band Tax Law. Major George W. Landers, a noted army and municipal bandleader of Clarinda, Iowa, was the author of a movement for state legislation to permit minor cities to tax themselves for the support of municipal bands. This law was passed and more than one-half the states of the Union quickly adopted the measure. Major Landers is one of the few reformers who has lived to see his plan working. Now in his 90’s he is an Honorary Life Member of the National Bandmasters’ Association.

Another great aid to the high school bands was a national band contest sponsored by music manufacturers who gave the winners generous money prizes. The first venture in 1923 was a huge success and started the contest idea off with a bang. This was the beginning of a most profound movement which worked a decided change in the whole status of bands in the United States, and from which an entirely new school music program grew.

A number of school boards woke up to the cultural and educational value of the new band development among the youth. They made it a regular part of the curriculum, and school credits were given the course.

National band contests were sponsored by various industries, service clubs, and often by state fairs. Beginning[169] in 1925 contests were held annually in various cities. The heads of the Service Bands and tops in concert bands and other noted musical organizations gladly cooperated in this great musical movement by acting as judges and band leaders. The meet held at Flint, Michigan in 1930 was highly spectacular. John Philip Sousa led forty-two large bands in a mammoth concert before an audience of 75,000.

Although school bands originated in the Midwest states, they soon sprang up like mushrooms over the entire nation. In some states as many as 600 to 700 bands entered state-wide competition. The idea grew too large for the plan, and in 1937 the country was divided into ten regions. Contests were held in each state, then these winners competed in the regional meets, and the victors joined in the national competitions.

The name “Competition Festival” replaced the title “Contests.” Instead of selecting a first, second and third winner in each group of contestants and giving them prizes, the rating plan is now used—five ratings for the best performances in each class of musicians entered. The students are not competing against any one person but are trying to equal or approach a perfect standard (or example) of performance. The ratings are listed as follows:

1. Best conceivable performance of the class which is being judged.

2. Unusually fine performance.

[170]3. Good performance.

4. Average performance.

5. A performance showing much room for improvement.

The leading authorities in the field of music education have come to believe that “the principal purpose of competition in music is to advance the cause of education through music.” They feel that this activity contributes great value in building character through the experience, team work, good fellowship and the ability to be good losers as well as proud winners.

After the division of the country into regional areas in 1939, 20,000 to 25,000 high school bands were listed in the United States. In 1950 a report on Music Education in the schools states that 35,000 high schools have bands. In several states departments of music education have been introduced. The American Music Conference attributes this upsurge in music interest to demands on school systems made by parents. In more than 500 communities in 21 states parents have organized “Community Music Councils” to support school programs, consult with school principals and boards, and to insist upon the employment of music supervisors and instructors.

On many occasions unusual means have been used to arouse and stimulate the interest of student players. The directors of a number of Wisconsin school bands hit upon the novel idea of combining a band clinic and a circus.

[171]In Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, Dr. Lawrence Skilbred, director of music education and 24 other band directors decided to engage Merle Evans, the famous leader of the Ringling Brothers’ Band and hire a miniature three-ring circus of sixteen acts.

Each of the twenty-four bands in the group was allowed to send five of their star players. Over 100 outstanding student musicians began rehearsing including Ringlings’ music for their Grand Entry, Red Wagons and Circus Days. The gymnasium in the Fond du Lac High School was transformed into a three-ring circus. The demand for tickets couldn’t be supplied. The performance was perfect. Every step of the military ponies, each swing of the trapeze, every pirouette of the waltzing lion was accompanied with appropriate music from the band. At the conclusion Bandmaster Evans mopped his brow and told the All-Star players, “Everything went like clockwork. You were the largest band I have ever conducted—and one of the best!”


Generally acknowledged as the first School Band in America is “The Farm and Trades School Band” of Thompson’s Island, in Boston Harbor, Massachusetts. This school, established in Boston in 1814, was moved to its present location nineteen years later.

[172]Nathaniel Hawthorne visited the Island school in 1837 and fully described it in “The American Notebooks,” calling it “The Manual Labor School for Boys.” Today, just as then, besides courses in Junior and Senior high school studies, practical courses are taught in Agriculture, iron forging, painting, printing, woodworking, mechanical drawing, steam engineering and boat operation. The pupils spend half their time in classes and half in working at their trades.

The School band was organized in 1857 and has been in continuous existence ever since—for almost a century. The boys’ first attempt at making music was on tissue paper-covered combs. This effect was soon improved by the addition of a bass viol, three violins, a sax horn, a cornopean and a small drum.

The principal of the school, John R. Morse, was director and general supervisor, and a special instrument instructor assisted him. The band increased in number rapidly and improved in its performance even more quickly. The first concert was given in 1858, and the band proudly led the procession when the School made its annual pilgrimage to Boston the next year, 1859. This was probably the first public appearance of any school band in the world.

There was little money available to spend on band equipment, but by using suits of several different styles in a few odd shades, they were fitted out with uniforms. New instruments had been obtained, and each glistened like gold, although the horns, wobbling as the players marched, pointed in various directions.[173] Every proud bandsman carefully donned his snowy white gloves before handling his instrument.

Although the band was only four years old when the Civil War began, the director and sixteen former players enlisted as Musicians. Mr. Morse returned from the War and completed a span of fifty years as director of the band.

The high point in the band’s history, as well as the greatest event in the lives of its members at that time, was playing at the Peace Jubilee. In response to an invitation from Patrick Gilmore, the famous band conductor, the Farm and Trades School Band played in his great 1,000-man band at the first Peace Jubilee at Boston in 1869. Ever afterwards those boys boasted of having performed with this group of bandsmen from at least five different countries.

The present bandmaster, Mr. Frank L. Warren, was chosen in 1923. A thorough musician, he is exceptionally well-fitted for this office. He directs several bands in the Boston area, is a member of various musical organizations—among them, the U. S. Army-Navy Bandsmen’s Association and the 101st Engineers’ Band. He inspires the school boys with a genuine love of music and a real joy in playing. The Farm and Trades School Band has throughout its years, won many honors at the state and the New England school band contests and later, high ratings at the Competition Festivals.

The popularity of the band has constantly increased. For instance, out of a school enrollment of 82, there[174] are 50 in the band. Various nationalities are included in the membership—at one time, one player was an American Indian lad named “Rainbow Red Canoe,” a great grandson of the famous chief “Sitting Bull.”

Most boys who have begun their music study with the band make it a hobby in later life, and many choose it as their lifetime profession. Composers, arrangers and music publishers have come from this Farm and Trades School Band, while many other former players have become valued members of symphony orchestras, opera and theater orchestras and nationally-famous concert bands.


The Pioneer Leader of School Bands

The High School principal, hurrying out to lunch stopped at the foot of the stairs and listened in astonishment.

“Horns and drums,” he muttered, “I’ll have to see what is going on down here!”

He followed the sounds easily and through the rear door of the manual training room saw a group of boys, seated on nail kegs and boxes, playing various instruments. A stocky young man was busily directing them.

The principal smiled and quickly turned away. “Mac has certainly started something this time!” he said to[175] himself. But not until years later did he realize that he had seen in its very beginning, Joliet’s famous School Band under its leader, who became the Dean of the School Band movement. This was the commencement of the greatest wave of music ever to sweep the country.

A. R. McAllister was born on a farm near Joliet, Illinois. As a very small boy he was fond of making music. Seldom was he seen without a cornstalk fiddle or an elder flute.

To the dismay of his thrifty Scotch father, Archie sold his pet pig for eight dollars and immediately sent a request to a mail order house for a cornet costing that exact sum. However, the elder McAllister was pleased that his son sent a C.O.D. order. Evidently he was going to be sure to get the worth of his money.

The boy tooted away faithfully and was soon able to play tunes. His next thought was to teach other boys in the neighborhood and organize a band. The group made good progress and had fun besides, although some of the neighbors declared “That McAllister boy does nothing but fool around with music and will never amount to anything.” But the first year of its existence this new band entered a contest and won the first prize—a music rack. The second year they again won first prize—this time a five-dollar bill.

Then Arch grew restless. He wondered which to follow—business or music? He loved music but he wanted to make money quickly, so he took a course in business school and got a job as auditor of the street car company. That failed to satisfy him. He sold his[176] cornet and went “out west” to a fruit ranch in Montana. There he worked into a different line, woodworking, building and making things with his hands. He felt he had a real talent for this sort of work and soon went back to Chicago to teach manual training in a Jewish training school.

A few years later McAllister accepted a position as Manual Training teacher in the High School in Joliet, Illinois. Here he seized upon an opportunity to get back into music work. He rounded up twelve boys who liked music but knew nothing at all about it. They gathered up a dozen used instruments, and McAllister began to teach and train the High School Band, which at first was looked upon solely as an aid to the football team. Their lessons were given outside of school hours and for some time McAllister received no extra salary.

The boys worked faithfully, their membership increased and their ability improved, but no one knew much about them. In 1920 the Joliet Rotary Club took McAllister and his band to Atlantic City to their convention. There they attracted much attention.

When the first national school band contest was held in Chicago, twenty-five bands took part in the affair sponsored by the Music Instrument Manufacturers. The Joliet, Illinois Township Band (Grade School) directed by A. R. McAllister, easily won first prize.

The Joliet Band continued to win first place in contests in 1925, 26, 27, and 1928. Then they were barred from entering to give other bands a chance. But when they re-entered they came out first in each contest.

[177]The Joliet High School Band after having won many state and national contests was finally given an honor no other organization will ever have: the first national school band trophy ever awarded in the world.

Bandmaster McAllister took his band on many pleasurable concert trips, but the outstanding, unforgettable jaunt was a whole week’s engagement playing in Radio City Music Hall in New York in March, 1936. The Joliet Band also played at the Metropolitan Opera House, in Philadelphia and in Washington, D. C. on the steps of the East front of Capitol Building where they were cheered by Congressmen and Senators.

Many honors came to McAllister also. He was elected the first President of the National School Band Association, organized in 1926, and served for eight years. He was president of the American Bandmasters’ Association, and prominent in every organization connected with school music.

A. R. McAllister died September 30, 1944, loved and honored by many thousands of people, young and old. He was an extremely modest man, yet he had one of the most brilliant careers in the history of instrumental music education in America’s public schools.

McAllister was not a University man; he never graduated from a music school, never had a doctor’s nor a master’s degree. Yet he created one of the greatest high school bands in the world and was known and loved by millions of young Americans.


As We Go Marching On

And so they have all marched—the military bands, Sousa, Gilmore, Pryor, Conway, the town and community bands, and the college and school bands. They have marched right into the hearts of the people, young and old, rich or poor, from Maine to California.

“All these bands have something in common,” wrote Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman. “They are manifestations of a popular musical culture which finds in them an expression of something not provided by any other type of concert organization. Most important, they are a form of local, or regional, or national organization fulfilling a genuine community need and serving a genuine community interest....

“The band has introduced many people to music—both listeners and performers. A band plays for the masses with mixed tastes. It is close to the people, bringing many into firsthand contact with live music.”

Bands are able to perform in outdoor concerts, football games, parades and on many varied occasions. They stand or march when they play, inspiring action. Informal, outdoor band concerts will always remain great popular attractions for few concert halls are large enough to accommodate all the people who want to[179] hear live band music. Besides, outdoor band concerts are free.

The United States is today’s greatest musical nation, and bands have played a great part in developing and spreading the love and understanding of music among young and old in this country. A band is a strong music educational force; a school or college band has the widest opportunity in the world to personally convey music to the people.

With the extensive program of concerts, radio and recording engagements, dances, football pageants, as well as the many regular functions in which the college bandsmen take part, a wealth of opportunity is given a college student interested in gaining experience in music.

In a more limited way this is true with high school bands. School bands are constantly being required to play at many public affairs in their community and school. And with ability to play in the band there comes to each bandsman a sense of citizenship, of belonging to an organization which is considered necessary to the success of public enterprises, of pride and importance in having a part in civic affairs.

People who are qualified to know state that the number of town, municipal, and industrial bands is decreasing, but it is gratifying to learn that these same authorities have found that college and school bands are rapidly increasing in all parts of the country. These organizations are recognized developments of our American culture. A national survey reveals that[180] in 1951 there were 75,000 bands in the United States. And there were fully 9,000,000 high school boys and girls belonging to school bands.

The activities of the high school bands are unified by the National High School Band Association; the musicians composing the Music Educators’ National Conference exercise helpful supervision. The school band is recognized as one of the greatest agencies for teaching democracy and good citizenship, as well as inducing a nation-wide love for music.

“Music,” says the Preface to the 1940 Resolutions of the Music Educators’ National Conference, “is an essential factor in building a cultured and happy people. It belongs to everyone.”

The shrill, noisy brass bands of early days have been supplanted by fine symphonic bands. Master instrument makers have invented a variety of new band instruments capable of producing many novel and artistic effects. Gifted musicians are composing and arranging music especially suited to these various instruments. The band has proved its worth and earned its right to the large place which it now occupies in our American way of life. A band is a necessary part of every community.

And just as the whole future of America is dependent upon the young people of today, in like manner, the fate of the bands of tomorrow depends upon the musical education and training received by the boys and girls of this present time. Youth must go marching on.

Throughout the ages man has found music to be[181] essential in voicing his own innate sense of beauty. Music is not a thing apart from man: it is the spiritualized expression of his finest and best inner self.

There is no one wholly unresponsive to the elevating appeal of music. If only the right contacts and experiences are provided, every life can find in music some answer to its fundamental need for aesthetic and emotional outlet.

The Music Educators’ National Conference, at its national meeting held at Los Angeles in 1940, in full acceptance of its responsibilities as the representative and champion of progressive thought and practice in music education, pledged its united efforts in behalf of a broad and constructive program for music education for the youth of America. The organization recommended that the following measures be taken in the direction of general improvement:

1. Provision in all the schools of our country, both urban and rural, for music experience and training for every child, in accordance with his interests and capacities.

2. Continued effort to improve music teaching, and to provide adequate equipment.

3. Carry-over of school music training into the musical, social and home life of the community, as a vital part of its cultural, recreational and leisure-time activities.

4. Increased opportunities for adult education in music.

5. Improvement of choir and congregational singing[182] in the churches and Sunday schools; increased use of instrumental ensemble playing in connection with church activities.

6. Encouragement and support of all worthwhile musical enterprises as desirable factors in making our country a better place in which to live.

At the 1951 national meeting of the Music Educators’ National Conference, an optimistic view of the future of school music was generally expressed.


Books, Magazines, and Newspapers Consulted—

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Band At-ten-tion! by Mark H. Hindsley. Chicago, Illinois: Gamble Hinged Music Company, 1932

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Band’s Music, The, by Richard F. Goldman. New York: Pitman Publishing Corp., 1938

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College and University Bands; Their Organization and Administration, by La Verne Buckton. New York: Teachers College, Columbia University, 1929

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GOOD HOUSEKEEPING. Hearst Magazines, Inc., 57th Street & 8th Avenue, New York, N. Y.

Gridiron Pageantry, by Charles B. Righter. New York: Carl Fischer, Inc., 1941

“Here Comes the Band!” by Ray Giles. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1936

History of American Music, The, by L. C. Elson. New York: The Macmillan Company, 1904


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The verse at the beginning of Chapter V is reprinted from “The History of The Salvation Army” by Robert Sandall by permission of the author and Thomas Nelson & Sons, Ltd., Edinburgh.


Obvious typographical errors have been corrected.

Inconsistencies in hyphenation have been standardized.

Incorrect page numbers in the Table of Contents have been corrected.

New original cover art included with this eBook is granted to the public domain.

Extensive research did not uncover any evidence that the U.S. copyright on this publication was renewed.