Medina Community Band – 1961 – 1977
Concert 7 – Friday, July 17th, 2009
(as of July 10, 2009)
Friday, July 17th, 2009 - Medina Community Band will present the seventh concert in their Sesquicentennial season on Friday, July 17th at 8:30p, on Medina Courthouse Square Gazebo featuring music from 1961 through 1977.
Community singing, an off-again, on-again affair at the summer concerts, became a regular feature by 1963. Often the vocal soloist of the evening would lead the audience through the intricacies of “Down By the Old Mill Stream,” “When You Wore a Tulip,” “Take Me Out to the Ball Game,” “My Wild Irish Rose,” and other old favorites.
Vocal soloists, through technically not part of the Medina Bands, certainly have added to the variety and enjoyment of Band performances over the years. Some have been high school students, some college students, some were adult villagers, especially in the early part of the last century, and some also played instruments in the Band. Some sang the same song or songs several times during a given year and even year after year, perhaps because the Bands’ libraries were limited, or perhaps on demand.
The free Friday evening concerts in the uptown park or square, formerly held on Saturday evenings, have been more popular over the years than we may suspect. A community attitude survey conducted in 1965 by the Junior Chamber of Commerce asked as one of the questions: “What do you like most about Medina?” The large majority of those answering the survey questionnaire replied: “The summer Band concerts.” By 1967, the Junior Chamber had become a co-sponsor of those concerts.
Following Ritter’s short tenure was a much longer one of Richard N. Stacey (1952-1962). Stacey (pictured at right) was at one time a high school pupil of Ritter’s in Marietta, Ohio. Before being hired in Medina as supervisor of instrumental music, Stacey was director of music at Fredericktown, Ohio. He became principal at Medina Junior High School in 1963, and relinquished the role as director of the MCB. The last two years of Stacey’s MCB tenure, Medina Junior High School band director, James Staten directed the first half of the 1961-62 summer seasons while Stacey was at summer school in Columbus.
Medina High School band director Robert Dubbert led the MCB in 1963. Dubbert (pictured at left) was in Medina only for the 1962-63 school year.
Charles E. Carey (1964-1970), a fellow Ohio State University marching bandsman of Stacey’s, was hired in 1963 to direct the Medina High School Band and became the new director of the MCB in 1964. Carey (picture at right) had been an assistant director for seven years at Wilmington, Ohio before coming to Medina. In addition to directing, he played an occasional cornet, trombone, or euphonium solo or played in a trio or quartet with the Band. While his opinion of what music to play might not have been universally accepted, since he was the director, his opinion was what counted. In 1965, Carey had rehearsed the MCB in a couple of rock and roll numbers, “but decided against them for Band use. ‘The repetitious Beatle beat might put both the crowd and the Band members to sleep,’ he said.” Carey became very involved with the vocal program in the schools and production of various musicals, from which came many of the vocal solos with the MCB. This full schedule caused him to relinquish leadership of the MCB after the 1970 season.
Terry Puehler (pictured at left, provided by Pete Ulrich, principal, Highland High School), a member of the Medina City Schools’ music faculty, directed MCB for the 1971 season. Puehler had played trombone solos with the Band as far back as 1958. All in all, the MCB seasons during the past era and into the new era, were like the weather of the times, pleasant, placid, and predictable. Following the 1971-72 school year, Puehler resigned his position as head band director at Medina High School to take the position as head band director at Highland High School (Highland Local Schools).
Walter Bixler, (directing MCB on Friday, June 26th, 1970 – at right) was an instrumental music teacher at Medina Junior High School and taught in the various Medina elementary schools. He directed the MCB during the summer of 1972. Bixler had played cornet in the Band from 1963 to about 1971 with an occasional solo along the way. He directed the band a few times when a substitute was needed for the regular director.
Marcus Neiman (pictured at left) was hired to replace Terry Puehler as Medina’s high school band director in August of 1972. At his interview, he was informed by the Superintendent of Schools for Medina City Schools that “part of your high school responsibilities would be to conduct the Medina Community Band Friday nights, June through the end of July in the summer. Payment, $300 for the season, would be paid by the concert sponsors.” Neiman’s first season as director of MCB would be the 1973 summer concert season.
The first two years under Neiman’s leadership were much like the previous 24 years. Rehearsals were held in Medina High School band room (420 East Union Street) and began a week or two prior to the start of the first concert in June. Concerts were held every Friday evening, beginning at 8:30 p.m. and continuing for about an hour, on the concrete bandstand located on the north side of the Medina Public Square, June through the end of July.
The MCB personnel was composed almost exclusively of members of the high school band and a few adults who had been members of MCB in the past. Instrumentation was often a challenge and it was hard to tell from week to week who would be playing and on what instrument. The level of music rehearsed and later performed was easy enough that it could be read by high school students with one reading and performed, with some semblance of perfection, on Friday evenings.
While MCB had a small library of music that it owned, virtually none of the music from the past bands could be found or used. A reciprocity agreement existed between Medina City Schools and Medina Community Band that allowed any music purchased by MCB to be used by the high school bands and music owned by the high school bands to be used by MCB. The high school band librarian also assisted with preparation of music folders for MCB.
Medina City Schools’ personnel moved chairs for the concerts and each band member brought a folding stand to use during the concert. And, up through the 1970s, City of Medina workers moved wooden planks and mason blocks to the square for the audience to sit and enjoy the concert (see photo on left) At the end of the 1973 season there was a picnic for the band by the Memorial Swimming Pool to which MCB members brought their own food, rather than having it provided for them.
The 1974 Independence Day concert was held in the high school stadium prior to the fireworks rather than on the Square. The desire of City and School officials was that having the concert in the stadium would be a unifying factor, draw a bigger crowd, and be a “fun night for all.” The concert was started later than usual and the band was asked to play selections of music during the early fireworks. Unfortunately, there was no sound amplification for the band and hearing them play was a problem. Overall, it was an unpleasant experience. The audience could not hear the band, and most were there for the fireworks not to hear the concert and talked through the entire performance. The band could not see their music as the night went on and no one wanted to turn the stadium lights on for fear it would interfere with the fireworks. When the fireworks finally did start, the band could not see them (being right under the display) and the smoke from the fireworks completed covered the band making the performance of any music impossible. Despite requests from the “powers to be,” MCB did not repeat the exercise. Concerts continued to be held on July 4th, for a time at 7:30 p.m. to allow concert goers to make it to the 9:45 p.m. fireworks; however, the start time was soon moved to 8:30 p.m. to be consistent with all other MCB concerts.
The pace quickly changed in 1975. The work of the Uptown Park Committee, former MCB director Charles Carey, and others fostered work to construct a gazebo (pictured at left) on the square in Medina. Medina’s new gazebo was patterned after the lovely Victorian-style gazebo in Bellville, Ohio, financed by the Letha House Foundation, and built on the site of the former park-center fountains. The fountains had been in disrepair for a number of years and the time seemed right for the gazebo.
The addition of the gazebo may have been a huge improvement to the picturesque quality of the square, but the initial logistics took some time to work out. O.C. Duke and Carey had lobbied the Uptown Park Committee successfully to include a basement in the gazebo, to store chairs and stands for MCB, as well as equipment to care for the square. The gazebo was designed to seat 50 band members, in theory. The first few concerts of the season featured MCB in the gazebo and their percussion and low brass sections on risers behind and on the sides of the gazebo. From a safety (and liability standpoint), not to mention aesthetic standpoint this solution to getting the full band on the gazebo was not acceptable. Neiman soon reduced the size of the band and soon had the entire ensemble inside the gazebo.
It should be noted that through the work of both Mayors August “Gus” Eble and Fred Greenwood, truck traffic around the square was rerouted (Rt 18 to South Jefferson, South Jefferson to East Smith, East Smith to South Elmwood, and South Elmwood to Rt. 18). This rerouting of the trucks was greatly appreciated by the Band and concert attendees. The practice only lasted through Fred Greenwood’s administration.
Also new were the MCB sponsors. After 29 years of supporting summer band concerts, the Medina Chamber of Commerce decided that it did not have sufficient resources to finance the band. The Kiwanis Club of Medina (‘Noon’ Kiwanis and newly formed ‘Breakfast’ Kiwanis), through the efforts of Carl F. Steinbach and Kenneth Robinson, accepted MCB sponsorship during 1974. A Medina Community Band Association, which included Kiwanis personnel and Neiman to handle MCB business, was incorporated in the state of Ohio and obtained it’s 501(c)(3) tax status to allow it donations from patrons to receive tax credit. Expanded expenses for the Band certainly generated part of this change; however, the available time to manage and available finances of the Chamber certainly had a great deal to do with the change of sponsorship. A special fund drive by the Kiwanis clubs, the Chamber of Commerce, and spearheaded by then-mayor August “Gus” Eble raised enough money to make it through the 1975 season.
For the first time, patron support was solicited from the entire community to add to funds raised from sponsors. Thus, MCBs future changed from one hinged on how generous the merchants were in their support of the band, to one seeking funds from those who actually attended the concerts. Patrons and sponsors had their names listed in the weekly concert programs. There were 51 patrons listed by the end of the 1975 season. MCB was off and rolling on a new way of funding the Band.
The cost of running the Band in the 1930s was $700-$900, per year, in constant dollars. Despite the fact that the musicians of the era’s Band were not paid, there were expenses. While the primary source for band music for MCB was the Medina High School band library, Neiman felt that using “educational music” (music composed to teach students how to play) was not always appropriate for “entertaining” concert-goers on the square. Likewise, to grow the band, it would be important to find music that was not only appropriate for the venue, but also challenging and entertaining for the Band to play. In addition, Neiman felt that while doing community service by conducting the Band was important, the amount of time involved in pre-search rehearsals, concerts every Friday evening through June and July, post-search work of removing music from the folders and preparing for the coming season, had a value greater than $300.
Support for the band concerts also came in “in-kind” donations. From 1976 until 1985, the Medina printing firm of Repro Depot played a part in Friday evening concerts by printing the evening’s programs gratis. Equipment movement was still donated by Medina City Schools, as well as use of rehearsal facilities.
Neiman also felt that the time had come to move MCB more toward a community band and less an extension of the high school band. To those ends, the size of the band that performed on the gazebo would be limited to 35 to 40 members, partially due to the size of the gazebo and more toward establishing a more consistent instrumentation for the band. An ideal instrumentation consisted of, but not necessarily limited to: 1 piccolo, 2 flutes, 2 oboes, 2 bassoons, 6 clarinets, 2 alto and 1 tenor saxophones, 4 horns, 6 cornet/trumpets, 4 trombones, 2 euphoniums, 2 tubas, and 3 percussion. Despite all efforts, the entire 52 member ensemble consisted of 58% (students) to 42% (adults) during the year of the dedication of the gazebo.
The picture above was taken about the time the Gazebo was dedicated while Neiman was still director of the Medina High School Band. The picture became so popular that it would be used as a post-card for the City of Medina. The attire for the band continued (from the 1973 season) as a white shirt, with a community band logo and Gazebo, black slacks, and black shoes and socks. Neiman wore his “Medina High School band director’s green suite” for the majority of this era. The initial concert was scheduled for Friday, June 6th, 1975, as listed on this page of the program; however, it rained that evening and the celebration was moved to the following week. Of note, are the sponsoring organizations: City of Medina, Medina Chamber of Commerce, Medina Park Trust, Uptown Park Advisory Committee, and Medina Community Band and Community Band Association.
During the early 1970s, select area high school students were auditioned (by Neiman) for placement in the band and would be permitted only with the recommendation of their director. An assurance that MCB activities would not interfere with other school bands was also enforced. It was a start.
Some of the adult members had either stayed with the band or come back after attending college and relocating back to Medina: Jackie Gowe Kehnle (alto saxophone and Medina High School) and Anthony Ratajcak (trumpet and NASA scientist) came back and stayed for many years beginning in 1965; Jackie’s high school stand partner, Nancy Bader (also saxophone returning in 1975). Copley junior high school band director Mitch Greenawalt (horn); Medina florist Alan Parkhurst (percussion); Chuck Stiver (percussion); the late Jeff Woosnam (low brass); and, NASA engineer Curt Leibert (trombone) came in 1976-1977 and most stayed for ten or more years.
It should also be understood that the only other community (or town) band that was still running in Medina County was the Litchfield Town Band, under Kenneth Bradley. The Goodyear Community Band (under Steve File) was still running in Akron and the Clinton Community Band, under Art Ulmer, were the only true community bands within a quick drive of Medina.
Walter Bixler (conducting rehearsal at left), conducted MCB the summer between Puehler’s departure and Neiman’s arrival. Puehler, as stated above, resigned following the 1971-72 school year and was not employed by Medina City Schools during the summer of 1972. Neiman was not hired until August of 1972 and did not conduct his first summer season until 1973. Bixler was featured in an article which appeared on Friday, June 26th, 1970, in the Akron Beacon Journal. The article indicated that rehearsals, at least during this era took place on Thursday evenings prior to the Friday concert. Bixler said that “you never know from week to week if you’ll have the right number or the right kind of instruments.” At least on that night, there were enough tubas, put no piccolo. Seventy-five percent of those in that particular band were high school students. George Bird (of Elyria on clarinet); Leonard Machles (principal of Medina Canavan Elementary School on oboe); and Gordon Smith (a newcomer to Medina from New York serving as the evening’s vocal soloist who would sing “Camelot”) were among the ten or 12 adults playing that week.
Neiman also believed that preparation for the season demanded more rehearsal time than two weeks prior to the season. Bi-monthly rehearsals began in October of 1975 for the 1976 season. Neiman’s hope was for the Band to become more than just a summer community band.
The first winter concert of a non-high school Medina Band since December, 1922, was held on Sunday afternoon in January 1976, in the new auditorium of the new Medina High School (777 East Union Street). This concert was somewhat unique in that Medina Historical Society members related “the County’s history between each piece and displayed items, including a Civil War uniform and women’s gowns.” Paid attendance was estimated at about 400, earning enough to “finance a whole year’s concerts.” And, due to scheduling conflicts the concert had to take place on the same afternoon as the Super Bowl.
The concert was also unique in that almost all the instrumental music teachers in the county participated in the program as members of the band. This show of unity was due in part to the celebration of the bicentennial.
The Band was given two months off and reconvened in March for bimonthly rehearsals preparing for a Sunday concert in late April, again in the new high school auditorium. Both non-summer concerts, plus all the summer concerts were billed as “Bicentennial Concerts” in honor of the 200th year since the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Cost of tickets for each concert was $2. The Band had another spring concert in April of 1977.
Walter Bixler, guest conductor,(pictured right) was a member of Medina Community Band and conductor for the 1972 summer season. Bixler was an instrumental music teacher at Medina Junior High School and taught in the various Medina elementary schools. He had played cornet in the Band from 1963 to about 1971 with an occasional solo along the way. He directed the band a few times when a substitute was needed for the regular director.
Bianca Murphy (pictured at left) is a native of Strongsville and a 1992 graduate of Strongsville High School. She went on to study music education at Bowling Green State University. She was the 1995 recipient of the Falcon Marching Band’s Outstanding Senior Female Marcher Award. Her studies included saxophone with Dr. John Sampen and conducting with Mark Kelly. Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree in music education, Bianca taught general music, band and choir for six years in grades K-8 in both parochial and public schools. She is currently taking time off from teaching to concentrate on raising her family. Bianca has been playing with the Medina Community band since 1998. She resides in Copley with her husband Patrick and their sons Sean, Jack, and Joe.
Tenor Daniel J. Doty (pictured at right) has appeared throughout the Midwest with orchestras and opera companies. A participant of the Opera and Music Theatre Festival of Lucca, Daniel spent six weeks in the Tuscan village of Lucca, Italy singing operatic arias at various venues associated with Lucca’s most famous son Giacomo Puccini. Daniel is a frequent soloist with the Akron Symphony Orchestra and has also appeared with symphonies in Muncie, IN, Urbana, IL, Marion, OH and community bands in Medina and Wadsworth. Mr. Doty holds a Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Bowling Green State University. He has taught music in the public school systems of Ohio and Illinois. He also an ordained minister and holds a Master of Divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, Evanston, IL. Currently Daniel serves as the Senior Minister of Trinity United Church of Christ in Wadsworth, Ohio.
Roger Smalley (pictured at right), guest narrator, a sixth generation Medina Countian, is a retired school teacher who also served for fourteen years on Medina City Council. A 1965 graduate of Medina High, Roger currently serves as Executive Director of the Medina Community Design Committee and as a board member for Main Street Medina, the Medina County Arts Council and the Uptown Park Advisory Committee. He lives in Medina with his wife Linda.
Star Spangled Banner (John Stafford Smith arranged by John Philip Sousa) uses lyrics from a poem written in 1914 by Francis Scott Key, a then 35-year-old amateur poet after seeing the bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, Maryland, by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812.
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a London social club. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner,” it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. It was recognized for official use by the United States Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.
Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. Most prominent among them was “Hail, Columbia” which served as the de facto national anthem from Washington’s time and through the 18th and 19th centuries. Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to complete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Camelot, a musical by Alan Jay Lerner (book and lyrics) and Frederic Loewe (music), (pictured at right – Lerner seated) is based on the King Arthur legend as adapted from the T.H. White novel The Once and Future King. The original 1960 production, directed by Moss Hart, ran on Broadway for 873 performances, winning four Tony Awards and spawning several revivals, foreign productions and a 1967 film version. The original cast album was America’s top-selling LP for 60 weeks.
The obstacles encountered in producing Camelot were hard on the creative partnership of Lerner and Loewe, and the show turned out to be their last creative collaboration. The show was also Hart’s last Broadway show. He died of a heart attack in Palm Springs, California on December 20th, 1961.
Amparita Roca, written by Jaime Texidor Dalmau, was copyrighted and published in Madrid and in London in 1935. There is inconclusive reason to believe that the Pasodoble as actually written by the British bandmaster Regninald Ridewood. A Boosey and Hawkes ad in 1936 included the work as Amparito Roca, “The Sheltered Cliff.” However, the director of the Baracaldo Band once directed by Texidor contends that Texidor dedicated the work to a girl named Amparito (diminutive of Amparo) Roca who lived in that area. Jaime Texidor Dalmau was a composer, conductor, and publisher who lived most of his life in Baracaldo, a picturesque city in northern Spain. Early in his life, he played saxophone in a military band. For many years, from 1928 until his death in 1957, he directed the Barcaldo Municipal Band. His compositions became so numerous, eventually totaling over 500 that he decided to start his own publishing company.
Grandioso, was written by Roland Seitz, known as the Parade Music Prince, who composed such marches as “Grandioso,” “Salutation,” and “Brooke’s Chicago Marine Band.” Although he was interested in studying music as a profession, he became a printer’s apprentice with the Glen Rock Item, a weekly newspaper, when he was a teenager. His father had died when he was three and it was necessary that he help with the family income. Fortunately, his early interest in music was encouraged by several of his relatives, including an older cousin, Levi Z. Seitz, who obtained a flute for Roland and invited him to join the family “band.” The other instruments in his unorthodox ensemble consisted of a trombone, some violins, and an organ.
The band had been rejuvenated after the Civil War by another older cousin, Nathaniel Z. Seitz, and was gradually improving. Although Roland Seitz was reportedly a conscientious and capable printer, he still hoped for a career in music, and by saving every possible penny until he was 27-years of age, he finally succeeded in enrolling at Dana’s Music Institute in Warren, Ohio (now part of Youngstown State University). He took his education seriously and by sacrificing all luxuries (and occasionally food), he graduated in 1898. He then returned to Glen Rock where he taught private wind and percussion lessons, played in the Glen Rock Band, and later become a successful leader of that group. Under his direction, the band made remarkable progress, and in 1901, it was selected to perform at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, New York, along with many of the best-known bands in the nation.
Romance, written by Ronald Binge (photo by G. Pollen at left) for E-flat Alto Saxophone and band, has been transcribed from Binge’s three movement Concerto for E-flat Alto Saxophone and Orchestra. Binge was one of the most respected and successful English composers of his generation. He moved to London in 1930 and played in theatre, café and dance ensembles. His “breakthrough” came in 1934-5, when he became the arranger for the Mantovani’s orchestra.
Dam Busters march, written by Eric Coates (pictured at right). During World War II the British assigned a special RAF unit to blow up Ruhr power dams. The unit soon became known as the "Dam Busters". In 1955, a movie starring Michael Redgrave was produced about the successful and daring operations of the Dam Busters. Coates wrote the highly successful score, including The Dam Busters March, for the movie.
Early in life, Coates studied the violin. Later he studied viola and composition on scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music. His early works were so successful that, at the age of 32, he gave up his career as a professional violist and devoted the remainder of his life to composing and conducting his own music.
Coates' works are typically light classics, representative of British music from the first half of this century. In 1957, Coates' last year of life, he became President of the British Light Music Association. His greatest fame came from Knightsbridge from his London suite.
My Fair Lady, with music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner (pictured at left). The musical was a 1964 musical film adaption of the Lerner and Loewe stage musical of the same name, based on the film adaption of the stage play Pygmalion by George Bernard Shaw. The film won eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Director.
The collaborative team of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe dominated the Broadway stage and American musical theater from 1947 into the 1960s and their musicals – Brigadoon, My Fair Lady, and Camelot – still live on in revival performances and in their movie versions. Lerner was the playwright and lyricist, while Loewe composed the music.
Alan Jay Lerner was born on August 31, 1918, one of three sons of Joseph Lerner, the founder of Lerner Stores, Inc. He had a good education, which took him to Harvard, and he studied at the Juilliard School of Music during his vacations from Harvard. He had done sketches and lyrics for two Harvard Hasty Pudding shows. He graduated Harvard in 1940 and wrote advertising copy and scripts for such radio shows as the Philco Hall of Fame.“Fritz” Loewe was older, having been born on June 10, 1904, in Vienna, Austria, the son of Edmund Loewe, a well-known operetta tenor. (Operetta, best known for the works by Gilbert & Sullivan, was the forerunner of American musicals.) A precocious youth, Loewe was playing piano at 4 and had by 9 composed the tunes for a music hall sketch with which his father toured Europe. At 15 he had a hit song with “Katrina,” which sold three million copies in Europe. In 1924 he came with his father to America, but his initial engagements at New York’s Town Hall and the Rivoli Theatre did not lead to follow-up bookings. The following decade saw him struggling with a variety of jobs, from cafeteria busboy to boxing, gold mining, cowpunching, and riding instructor. But in 1935 his song, “Love Tiptoes Through My Heart,” was used in the musical Petticoat Fever. Emboldened, he presented his own musical, Salute to Spring, in St. Louis in 1937. In 1938 his Great Lady got to Broadway, but had only 20 performances.
Turandot – Nessun Dorma is an aria from the final act of Giacomo Puccini’s opera Turandot, and is one of the best-known tenor arias in all opera. It is sung by Calaf (the unknown prince) who falls in love at first sight with a beautiful, but cold, Princess Turandot. However, any man who wishes to wed Turandot must first answer her three riddles. If he fails, he will be beheaded.
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Midhele Secondo Maria Puccini was an Italian composer whose operas, including La Bohème, Tosca, Madama Butterfly and Turandot, are among the most frequently performed in the standard repertoire.
Down By the Old Mill Stream, was written by Tell Taylor. Taylor was born on a farm five miles east of Findlay, Ohio. The Blanchard River, where Taylor swam as a boy, was the original “Mill Stream” mentioned in the song. The old Misamore Mill at the bridge is gone, but the site is still visible. The song, words and music, was written and published about 1910 while Taylor was teaching rural school, and was made popular by the vaudeville team, “The Orpheus Comedy Four” who first used it in that year. More than five million copies have been sold of the song.
You’re a Grand Old Flag, written by George M. Cohan, is a tribute to the United States flag. In addition to the obvious reference to the flag, it incorporated snippets of other popular songs, including one of his own. Cohan wrote it in 1906 for George Washington, Jr., his stage musical. The song was first publicly performed on February 6th, 1906, the play’s opening night, at Herald Square Theatre in New York City.
You’re a Grand Old Flag quickly became the first song from a musical to sell over a million copies of sheet music. The title and first lyric comes from someone Cohan once met; the Library of Congress website notes:
The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favorite came, as Cohan later explained, from an encounter he had with a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The two men found themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, “She’s a grand old rag.” Cohan thought it was a great line and originally named his tune “You’re a Grand Old Rag.” So many groups and individuals objected to calling the flag a “rag,” however, that he “gave ‘em what they wanted” and switched words, renaming the song “You’re a Grand Old Flag.”
In the play itself, the scene with the Civil War soldier was replicated. The soldier’s comment was the lead-in to this song. Thus the first version of the chorus began, “You’re a grand old rag / You’re a high flying flag.” Despite Cohan’s effort to pull that version, some artists such as Billy Murray recorded it under its original title, “The Grand Old Rag.” Cohan’s second attempt at writing the chorus began, “You’re a grand old flag / Though you’re torn to a rag.” The song was used in a major production number in Cohan’s 1942 film biography, Yankee Doodle Dandy.
Shoutin’ Liza Trombone, written by Henry Fillmore. Shoutin’ Liza Trombone carried the subtitle “Mose Trombone’s Ah-finity.” Recalling Henry’s early conflicts with his father about his music, it is interesting to note that this was originally titled “Hallelujah Trombone” in reference to the opening motif which is taken from Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus.” Knowing that his hymnal-publishing father would never approve of such blasphemy, Henry recalled the first printing which did go out with the title “Hallelujah Trombone” and retitled it Shoutin’ Liza Trombone. When performing the work as a guest conductor, Henry would bring the trombone section to the front of the stage, play the introduction and, before the pick-ups to the first strain, would say to the audience. “Let us have a moment of prayer for the trombone section.” He would then yell “Shoot em!” and tear into the first glissando, that section marked “with pep.” Henry Fillmore gained fame as the Father of the Trombone Smear wrote a series of 15 novelty characteristic tunes featuring trombone smears called “The Trombone Family. Written in strong ragtime or vaudeville style, the smear features the trombone section. Shoutin’ Liza Trombone was the eighth characteristic smear composed by Fillmore.
King Henry march, by Karl L. King. The march was dedicated to fellow Ohio composer Henry Fillmore. Fillmore had, in kind, written a march dedicated to Karl entitled “King Karl King.” Both men were among the royalty in Ohio and American marches.
Stars and Stripes Forever by John Philip Sousa. The march is considered the finest march ever written, and at the same time one of the most patriotic ever conceived. As reported in the Philadelphia Public Ledger (May 15, 1897) “ ... It is stirring enough to rouse the American eagle from his crag, and set him to shriek exultantly while he hurls his arrows at the aurora borealis.” (referring to the concert the Sousa Band gave the previous day at the Academy of Music).
The march was not quite so well received though and actually got an over average rating for a new Sousa march. Yet, its popularity grew as Mr. Sousa used it during the Spanish-American War as a concert closer. Coupled with his Trooping of the Colors , the march quickly gained a vigorous response from audiences and critics alike. In fact, audiences rose from their chairs when the march was played. Mr. Sousa added to the entertainment value of the march by having the piccolo(s) line up in front of the band for the final trio, and then added the trumpets and trombones join them on the final repeat of the strain.
The march was performed on almost all of Mr. Sousa’s concerts and always drew tears to the eyes of the audience. The author has noted the same emotional response of audiences to the march today. The march has been named as the national march of The United States.
There are two commentaries of how the march was inspired. The first came as the result of an interview on Mr. Sousa’s patriotism. According to Mr. Sousa, the march was written with the inspiration of God.
“I was in Europe and I got a cablegram that my manager was dead. I was in Italy and I wished to get home as soon as possible, I rushed to Genoa, then to Paris and to England and sailed for America. On board the steamer as I walked miles up and down the deck, back and forth, a mental band was playing ‘Stars and Stripes Forever.’ Day after day as I walked it persisted in crashing into my very soul. I wrote it on Christmas Day, 1896.”
The second, and more probable inspiration for the march, came from Mr. Sousa’s own homesickness. He had been away from his homeland for some time on tour, and told an interviewer:
“In a kind of dreamy way, I used to think over old days at Washington when I was leader of the Marine Band ... when we played at all public functions, and I could see the Stars and Stripes flying from the flagstaff in the grounds of the White House just as plainly as if I were back there again.”
“Then I began to think of all the countries I had visited, of the foreign people I had met, of the vast differences between America and American people and other countries and other peoples, and that flag our ours became glorified ... and to my imagination it seemed to be the biggest, grandest, flag in the world, and I could not get back under it quick enough.”
“It was in this impatient, fretful state of mind that the inspiration to compose ‘The Stars and Stripes Forever’ came to me.”
The march evolved over its first few years of performance. Mr. Sousa would premiere a new march and place it as an encore on the program. It must be remembered that The Sousa Band was a concert band and performed in concert halls, opera houses, theaters, and other large rooms. Mr. Sousa would verbally make changes on the march to his players during this time. After the march was “broken in” the changes would become standard for future performances. It would also seem logical that changes the musicians themselves did, either through intention or simply performance, would also be added to the march.
There are many reasons why the “authentic” Sousa style does not appear on most editions of the march today. Prime among them are the simple fact that most publishers will not go into that much detail for the interpretation of a “march.” Another probable cause is that Mr. Sousa was an entertainer and did not want the competition to “lift” his composition’s unique performance quality.
Till We Meet Again, written by Richard A. Whiting (pictured at left) with lyrics by Raymond B. Egan. Written during World War I, the song tells of the parting of a soldier and his sweetheart. As Whiting’s daughter Margaret tells it, the song was intended for a 1918 contest at a Detroit theatre. Dissatisfied with the results, Whiting threw the manuscript in the trash. His secretary retrieved it and showed it to their boss, publisher Jerome Remick, who submitted it in the contest, where it won top honors. In 1919, the song was the number one song of the year as recorded by Henry Burr and Albert Campbell.
Whiting was born in Peoria, Illinois on November 12, 1891 and died in California on February 10, 1938. After graduating from Los Angeles’ Harvard Military School, he began his career as a staff writing for various music publishers and in 1912 became a personal manager. He moved to Hollywood in 1919 and wrote the film scores to Innocents of Paris, Dance of Life, Monte Carlo, Safety in Numbers, The Playboy of Paris, Transatlantic Merry-Go-Round, One Hour With You, Adorable, Big Broadcast of 1936, Varsity Show, Ready, Willing and Able, Hollywood Hotel and Cowboy from Brooklyn.
Medina Community Band – 1961 – 1977
Program – Friday, July 17th, 2009
(as of July 10, 2009)
(Selections either published or performed by Medina Community Band
on the listed year)
Anthem, Star Spangled Banner (performed 1904)....... Francis Scott Key/John Philip Sousa
Overture, Camelot (performed 1968)............................................. Frederic Loewe/Paul Yoder
March, Amparita Roca (performed 1963).......................................................... Jaime Texidor
March, Grandioso (performed 1968)..................................................................... Roland Seitz
Walter Bixler, guest conductor
Alto Saxophone Solo, Romance (performed 1975)..................... Ronald Binge/Rex Mitchell
Bianca Murphy, soloist
March, Dam Busters (performed 1959).................................................................. Eric Coats
My Fair Lady: I Could Have Danced All Night.............................................. Lerner & Loewe
Miki Saito, soprano soloist
Turandot: Nessun Dorma........................................................ Giacomo Puccini/Leonard Smith
Daniel Doty, tenor soloist
Down By the Old Mill Stream (performed 1955)................. Tell Taylor/Paul Yoder
You’re a Grand Old Flag (1906).......................... George M. Cohan/Frank D. Cofield
Characteristic, Shoutin’ Liza Trombone (performed 1977)........................ Henry Fillmore
March, King Henry (performed 1968)................................................................... Karl L. King
Patriotic, Stars and Stripes Forever (performed 1901)....................... John Philip Sousa
Theme Song, Till We Meet Again (performed 1922).. Richard A. Whiting/William Teague
 It should be noted that information provided by a published Medina Community Band history by band member (and band historian) David Van Doren was instrumental in descriptions of Band activities given in this and all concert publications in this sesquicentennial celebration series.