John Philip Sousa Memorial Concert - 1932 January 15 2013, 1 Comment

Jack Kopstein April 17th 1932 Unquestionably there have been numerous concerts over the years to memorialize the great John Philip Sousa, but  none more celebratory in his memory than the concert held  at Constitution Hall  in Washington on Sunday April 17th 1932. The concert was held under the auspicious of the American Red Cross and was the annual American Bandmasters Association  concert. The performers included three of the top service bands of the American Forces-The United States Army band, The United States Navy band and the United States Marine Band. What certainly made this concert of everlasting historical significance, was the number of distinguished composer -conductors who appeared and led the bands in introducing new band music. Sousa had passed away on March 6th 1932 and the performance was a major undertaking to organize and advertise in tribute to him. Originally, Sousa was to have conducted his newest creation Leaves from my Notebook. The eminent composer Gustav Holst was to premiere his work Hammersmith, which he had dedicated to Walton O’Donnell, director of the BBC military band. Holst was in the United States to lecture in composition at Harvard University on a six month contract. Holst was suddenly taken ill prior to the concert and the first performance Prelude and Scherzo of Hammersmith was conducted by Captain Branson Taylor, leader of the United States Marine Band. A further premiere was conducted by Branson with the introduction of Ottorino Respighi’s Hunting Tower ballad written especially for the concert. Hunting Tower remains as the only piece written by Respighi for concert band. Canadian composers Captain Charles O’Neill and Lieutenant JJ Gagnier conducted the United States Army Band in new band compositions, O’Neill’s Overture in F Minor and Gagnier’s The Wind in the Leafless Maple. Both O’Neill and Gagnier did not appear without some difficulty. O’Neill was the director of the Royal 22nd Band in Quebec City, and Gagnier was the director of a militia band, His Majesties Grenadier Guards Band in Montreal. Both were up against the Canadian Army who were operating on a penny-pinching budget in the depression era. They would not pay for the music directors to attend the conference. Lt Colonel “Tommy” Burns (Later Lt General), who was stationed in Quebec, got wind of the situation and they were granted train and accommodation expenses (1). Nathaniel Shilkret, well known composer and musician, composed a special tone poem, Skyward, in honor of the occasion.  Shilkret had been associated with Sousa as he conducted the Sousa band for their recordings by Victor Talking Machine Company. It is also noted that Shilkret was an accomplished clarinettist and may have played clarinet with the band on numerous occasions from 1923 to 1925. (2) Victor Grabel arranged the Chopin Funeral March which he conducted on the concert. The finale was a set of four of Sousa’s greatest marches with the massed bands and conducted by Walter M. Smith of the Boston-based Smith’s Band , Herbert L. Clarke, Frank Simon and the illustrious Arthur Pryor. Much of the music performed on the concert never made it into print and remained in manuscript form for several years. Gustav Holst’s masterpiece for band, Hammersmith, was not premiered in its published version until 1954. The programme follows: 1. Fantasie “Midshipman” (New) ……Peter Buys United States Navy Band –conducted by the composer 2. Bolero…………………………………………..Maurice Ravel United States Band conducted by Lieut. Charles Benter 3. A Chinese Festival (New) ………………..Maurice Arnold United States Navy Band conducted by Austin A Harding 4. Concert Overture in F Minor (New)…………….Capt.Charles O’Neill United States Army Band-Conducted by composer 5. Tone Poem ‘The Wind in the Leafless Maple (New)..Lieut.JJ Gagnier United States Army band-Conducted by the composer 6. Overture Spiritual Rivers (New)…………………………….George C Gault United States Army Band conducted by Capt. William J Stannard 7. Prelude and Scherzo “Hammersmith” (New) …Gustave Holst Conducted by the composer(see above) 8. Huntingtower Tower Ballad (New)…………………………….Ottorino Respighi United States Army band- conducted by Captain Taylor Branson 9. Presentation of Bandmasters Medal 10.Tone Poem “Skyward” (New)…..Nathaniel Shilkret United States Marine Band-Conducted by the Composer 11. Funeral March……………………..Frederick Chopin Arranged by Victor Jean Gabrel –United States Marine band conducted by Victor Jean Gabrel 12. US Field Artillery March… John Philip Sousa Massed bands conducted by Walter M Smith 13.Washington Post March……. John Philip Sousa- Massed bands conducted by Frank Simon 14. El Capitan March………John Philip Sousa conducted by Herbert L Clarke 15. Stars and Stripes Forever- John Philip Sousa Massed bands conducted by Arthur Pryor 16. Sabbath Evening in Camp (New) .. Captain R.B. Hayward- Massed bands conducted by the composer 17.Grand March “University” (new) Edwin Franko Goldman Massed Bands conducted by the composer Peter Buys- Played Eb Clarinet in the Sousa band from 1912 and arranged for Sousa  to 1918. Maurice Arnold- Was a distinguished black composer and was a student of Anton Dvorak. He wrote numerous symphonic pieces based on African Music. Captain (later Dr. ) Charles O’Neill was the first director of the Royal 22nd Band (La Musique du Royal 22e Régiment). Victor Jean Gabrel- Conductor of the Chicago Concert band and a founding father of the American bandmasters Association Lieutenant J.J. Gagnier- the director of the famous Canadian Grenadier Guards Band in Montreal, and was a member of one Canada’s good music for concert bands Nathaniel Shilkret- An arranger and recording producer for Sousa and one of Americas great composer and arranger. Edwin Franko Goldman-The founding father of the ABA and iconic bandmaster of the Goldman band. Goldman pioneered much needed Notes (1) Jack  Kopstein “When the Band begins To play self- published 1992. (2) Journal of band Research -20th century Repertoire Bibliography: The Incredible band of John Philip Sousa  Paul Bierley-University of Illinois 2006 Encyclopedia of band Music-Rehrig-Bierley-Integrity Press 1996 The Heritage of Canadian Military Music-Kopstein- Pearson Vanwell Publishing 2002 Gustave Holst One of Britain’s leading composers. He is credited with several marvellous compositions for concert(military) band including Suites in Eb and F. George C Gault The only known composition of this composer was featured on this concert Walter M Smith –An original member of the ABA and director of Smith’s band Boston Frank Simon-A long- time member and cornet soloist with the Sousa band, director of the Armco band Middleton Ohio Herbert L Clarke-A cornet soloist with the Sousa band , great proponent of the cornet bandmaster of several bands including the Long Beach California Municipal band Austin Harding-Director of bands at University of Illinois Arthur Pryor-One of Americas’s leading band leaders and director of Pryor’s band Captain R B Hayward- Director of the Queens Own Rifles and the Toronto Concert band. A most highly regarded Canadian musician and teacher. A graduate of the Royal Military School of Music, Kneller hall.