Military Music Blog

The Stars and Stripes Forever September 13 2011, 0 Comments

"The Stars and Stripes Forever" is a patriotic American march widely considered to be the finest work of composer John Philip Sousa. In fact ,the march received the great honor of being selected by an act of Congress as the National March of the United States of America in 1987. Surprisingly, John Philip Sousa's great American patriotic march, "The Stars and Stripes Forever," was written not in the aftermath of a great battle, but on. . .

The U.S. Army Chorus Celebrates 55 Years August 08 2011, 2 Comments

The U.S. Army Chorus Celebrates 55 years Contributed By: Jack Kopstein Major Dwayne S. Milburn, Director In 1956 The U.S. Army Chorus was established as the vocal counterpart of The U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” and is one of the nation’s only professional men’s choruses. From its inception, The U.S. Army Chorus has established and maintained a reputation of excellence in the performance of male choral literature. Beyond the traditional military music and patriotic standards, the repertoire of the Army Chorus covers a broad spectrum which includes pop, Broadway, folk, and classical music. The Army Chorus performs frequently at the White House, the Vice President’s Residence, the U.S. Capitol, the Supreme Court, and the State Department. World leaders, such as the President of France Nicolas Sarkozy, former Presidents Jose Maria Aznar of Spain, Lech Walesa of Poland, and Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union have been serenaded by the Army Chorus during state visits. These visiting dignitaries are often greeted in their native tongues, as the Chorus is able to sing in more than 26 languages. In 2007, the group was featured at the State Dinner held in honor of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and in 2008 at the State Arrival Ceremony for Pope Benedict XVI held on the south lawn of the White House. The Chorus participated in the dedication ceremonies of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and the George H. W. Bush Presidential Library, and memorial ceremonies honoring significant events in our country’s history including the Korean War Veterans Memorial, National World War II Memorial, and the Pentagon Memorial. The Army Chorus was personally requested to perform for the private interment services of former Presidents Ronald Wilson Reagan in 2004, and Gerald R. Ford in early 2007. The Army Chorus regularly appears with the National Symphony Orchestra in the televised Memorial Day and Independence Day performances from the U.S. Capitol. Also, the Chorus has performed with the Atlanta Symphony, the Cincinnati Pops, the San Francisco Symphony, the Seattle Symphony, Grant Park Symphony, Detroit Symphony, Annapolis Symphony, and the Dallas Wind Symphony. The group has been featured on many well-known stages, including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, Radio City Hall Music Hall, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Hollywood Bowl, and the Meyerson Symphony Center. In 1999, the Chorus was invited to perform with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square for a live radio and television broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. In 2008, the Army Chorus joined forces with the Colorado Symphony Chorus, the Aspen Festival Orchestra, and conductor David Zinman for a rare performance of Arnold Schoenberg’s Gurre-Lieder at the Aspen Music Festival. The members of the Army Chorus, most of whom hold advanced degrees in music, are selected from among the nation’s finest musicians. In 2011 the group will celebrate its 55th Anniversary which will be marked with concerts that include a reunion of past members, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in music education and as soloists on Broadway and opera stages around the world. Visit the U.S. Amy Chorus website: Army Chorus Events Calendar:

U.S. Navy Sea Chanters Celebrate their 55th Anniversary August 08 2011, 1 Comment

The United States Navy Sea Chanters Contributed By: Jack Kopstein The spread of cultural richness is one function military music plays in the defence of our democracy throughout the world. This was never truer than during the Cold War. From 1948-1991, members of the Navy Band travelled throughout the United States, South America and Europe, performing for millions while playing their part in the advancement our national diplomatic interests. One such Cold War mission occurred on December 1961, when 29 members of the United States Navy Band were sent to West Berlin to participate in a series of concerts sponsored by the United States Information Agency (USIA). The USIA, led at the time by Great American Newsman Edward R. Murrow, who was charged with influencing a positive image of the United States overseas. It accomplished this mission through propaganda campaigns that included motion pictures, television and radio broadcasts, funding of libraries, arts exchanges, etc. The USIA’s main goal at this time was to thwart the spread of communism and counter the negative propaganda created by the Soviet government. The catalyst for this particular Navy Band Cold War mission began on June 24, 1961. In his first months as President, John F. Kennedy met with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev at the Vienna Summit. In a strong response to a war threat made by Khrushchev, Kennedy stated, “Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a long, cold winter.” A few months later the Berlin Wall was constructed and the battle lines were effectively drawn. With tensions running high, it became absolutely necessary that a positive diplomatic message be sent throughout the Eastern Bloc countries. To do this the State Department and the USIA turned to the United States Navy Band. A USIA letter to the band stated that Berlin had requested a “first-rank American choir” to participate in a special “Berlin Christmas” broadcast. The Sea Chanters, formed in 1956, had already established an international reputation and were perfect for the task at hand. On December 20th, members of the Navy Band including the Sea Chanters, together with a small jazz combo, vocalist Ben Mitchell Morris, and Harmonica soloist Dick Bain, departed for West Berlin. Over the next four days these musicians performed a dozen special concerts for American military personnel, German civilian groups, hospital patients, and radio broadcast audiences. “We were billeted at the Berlin Hotel. Over the next several days we made the usual rounds of singing at hospitals, military installations, and other venues. We were taken on several bus tours of the city, East Berlin, which we entered and left through Checkpoint Charlie. West Berlin had been largely rebuilt by then and was a lively, festive place, brightly decorated for Christmas. East Berlin was for the most part rubble. The only Christmas decoration was a pitiful string of lights on the sign of a small shop. That section of the city was almost completely dark. The Russians used buildings, with the windows and doors bricked in, as part of the wall. One of the most moving sights on the trip was a Bible that one of the masons had mortared in as a brick in one of the windows. We were encouraged to go into East Berlin often to establish that, although the Russians had cut it off from the West by the wall, the Eastern Zone was still occupied in part by the Allies, and American military personnel had the right to access the entire city. ” The trip culminated in a very special 90 minute “television spectacular.” Taped on December 23rd, this concert featured the Sea Chanters, the famous American contralto Marian Anderson, The Oberkirchen Boys Choir, The St. Hedwig Cathedral Choir, The Berlin Radio Orchestra, Cardinal Spellman of New York, and taped messages from President Kennedy, British Prime Minster Harold McMillan, and French President Charles De Gaulle. This live broadcast was telecast throughout Germany and fed to the Eurovision TV Network. With an estimated audience of over 200 million viewers, including an estimated several million viewers in East Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary, the Sea Chanters performed brilliantly and were an integral part to the success of this mission. President John F Kennedy said of the mission: It is difficult to judge the importance of this type of cultural diplomacy. What is definite, however, is that the members of the Navy Band distinguished themselves by projecting a positive American image at a time of heightened Cold War tensions. This is a legacy that the men and women of the Navy Band have proudly maintained. “I look forward to an America which will steadily raise the standards of artistic accomplishment and which will steadily enlarge cultural opportunities for all of our citizens. And I look forward to an America which commands respect throughout the world not only for its strength but for its civilization as well." Today The Navy Band Sea Chanters is the United States Navy’s official chorus and remain one of America’s finest vocal groups. The ensemble performs a variety of music ranging from traditional choral music, including sea chanteys and patriotic fare, to opera, Broadway, and contemporary music. Under the leadership of Senior Chief Musician Georgina L. Todd, the Sea Chanters perform for the public throughout the United States.  . In 1956, Lt. Harold Fultz, then the band's assistant leader, organized a group from the Navy School of Music to sing chanteys and patriotic songs for the State of the Nation dinner. An immediate success, Admiral Arleigh Burke, then Chief of Naval Operations, transferred them to the Navy Band, named them the Sea Chanters and tasked this all-male chorus with perpetuating the songs of the sea. In 1980, the group added women to their ranks and expanded their repertoire to include everything from Brahms to Broadway. The Sea Chanters are frequently found at the center of our most important national events, including Inauguration Day, 2009. They have played a vital role in comforting the nation in times of mourning, including appearances at memorials for the astronauts of the space shuttle Columbia and the presidential wreath laying ceremony at the United Airlines flight 93 crash site in Shanksville, Pa. Their performance of "Amazing Grace" for the National Day of Prayer and Remembrance at the National Cathedral in Washington after the events of 9/11 inspired all in attendance as well as a national television audience. They have appeared at the Kennedy Center Honors and with the National Symphony Orchestra for the nationally telecast "National Memorial Day Concerts" at the U.S. Capitol. In addition the group has appeared on "Larry King Live" and "CBS This Morning" as well as at the premier of the movie “Pearl Harbour”.  . The Sea Chanters have enjoyed a great reputation performing with such stars as Perry Como, Marian Anderson, Kenny Rogers and Lionel Richie. Throughout their history, the Sea Chanters have remained true to the Navy's watchwords of pride and professionalism, and they continue to flourish as a vibrant ensemble. Altissimo salute the artistry,  and spirit of a truly great American Institution THE US NAVY SEA CHANTERS See them live on YouTube in a thrilling video:

Visit the Navy Sea Chanters' Website: Sea Chanters' Events Calendar:

Fourth of July June 29 2011, 0 Comments

The United States Declaration of Independence is a statement adopted by the Continental Congress on July 4, 1776, which announced that the thirteen American colonies then at war with Great Britain were now independent states, and thus no longer a part of the British Empire. Written primarily by Thomas Jefferson, the Declaration is a formal explanation of why Congress had voted on July 2 to declare independence from Great Britain, more than a year after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War. The birthday of the United States of America—Independence Day—is celebrated on July 4, the day the wording of the Declaration was approved by Congress. ...

Flag Day June 14 2011, 0 Comments

Salute America on Flag Day - June 14, 2011 Contributed by Jack Kopstein *To celebrate Flag Day, ALL FLAGS are 20% off this week, online only!* In the United States, Flag Day is celebrated on June 14. It commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States, which happened that day by resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established June 14 as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by an Act of Congress. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday, though on June 14, 1937, Pennsylvania became the first (and only) U.S. state to celebrate Flag Day as a state holiday, beginning in the town of Rennerdale. Title 36 of the United States Code, Subtitle I, Part A, CHAPTER 1-110 is the official statute on Flag Day; however, it is at the President's discretion to proclaim officially the observance. One of the longest-running Flag Day parades is held annually in Quincy, Massachusetts, which began in 1952, celebrating its 59th year in 2010. The 59th Annual Appleton Wisconsin 2009 Flag Day Parade featured the U.S. Navy. The largest Flag Day parade is held annually in Troy, New York, which bases its parade on the Quincy parade and typically draws 50,000 spectators. Perhaps the oldest continuing Flag Day parade is at Fairfield, Washington. Beginning in 1909 or 1910, Fairfield has held a parade every year since, with the possible exception of 1918, and celebrated the "Centennial" parade in 2010, along with some other commemorative events.

Military Bands Summer Performance Schedule in D.C. June 13 2011, 0 Comments

Military Band Summer Concert Schedule 2011 Washington, DC Military Band Concerts Altissimo is pleased to provide information on the summer concert series of the Washington Based Service bands. Just a reminder that we have great recordings of all of the bands listed below in our NEW SUMMER CATALOGUE ENJOY Washington, DC has enjoyed a tradition of live military band concerts since 1863. The Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force bands perform on alternating days throughout the summer. Concerts are free and no tickets are required. These performances honor those who have served our country and seek to inspire American patriotism. Read more about Military Bands. U.S. Navy Band – Mondays 8 p.m. On the West Front of the U. S. Capitol Building June 6, 13, 20 July 25 August 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 Special Concert: Memorial Day - Sunday, May 29 at 7 p.m. and on Tuesdays, 8 p.m. at the Navy Memorial June 7, 14, 21, 28 July 5, 19, 26 August 9, 16, 23, 30 U.S. Air Force Band - Tuesdays, 8 p.m on the West Front of the U. S. Capitol Building June 7, 14, 21, 28 July 5, 12, 19, 26 August 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 U.S. Marine Band – Wednesdays 8 p.m. On the West Front of the U. S. Capitol Building June 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 July 6, 13, 20, 27 August 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and on Thursdays, 8 p.m. at the Sylvan Theater on the grounds of the Washington Monument June 2, 9, 16, 23, 30 July 7, 14, 21, 28 August 4, 11, 18, 25 and on Fridays, 8:45 p.m. at the Marine Barracks Washington, 8th and I Streets, SE June 3, 10, 17, 24 July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 August 5, 12, 19, 26 U.S. Army Band – Fridays 8 p.m. On the West Front of the U. S. Capitol Building June 3, 10, 17, 24 July 1, 8, 15, 22, 29 August 5, 12 Twilight Tatoo - Wednesdays, 7 p.m. At Fort Lesley J. McNair, 4th Street and Maine Avenue, SW. May 4, 11, 25 June 1, 8

Memorialize June 6th –The D day landings June 06 2011, 0 Comments

from Jack Kopstein Patriotic Music for All Occasions: Patriot Tunes Developed by Altissimo The great sacrifice that helped to win the war The Normandy landings, also known as Operation Neptune, were the landing operations of the Allied invasion of Normandy in Operation Overlord during World War II. The landings commenced on Tuesday, 6 June 1944 (D-Day), beginning at 6:30 AM British Double Summer Time (GMT+2). In planning, D-Day was the term used for the day of actual landing, which was dependent on final approval. The assault was conducted in two phases: an airborne assault landing of 24,000 British, American, Canadian and Free French airborne troops shortly after midnight, and an amphibious landing of Allied infantry and armoured divisions on the coast of France commencing at 6:30 AM. There were also decoy operations mounted under the code names Operation Glimmer and Operation Taxable to distract the German forces from the real landing areas. The operation was the largest amphibious invasion in world history, with over 160,000[5] troops landing on 6 June 1944. 195,700[6] Allied naval and merchant navy personnel in over 5,000[5] ships were involved. The invasion required the transport of soldiers and material from the United Kingdom by troop-laden aircraft and ships, the assault landings, air support, naval interdiction of the English Channel and naval fire-support. The landings took place along a 50-mile (80 km) stretch of the Normandy coast divided into five sectors: Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. Due to a high demand, Altissimo! Recordings developed Patrotic Music for All Occasions, complete with 23 patriotic songs suitable for any occasion. Appropriately titled, Patriotic Music for All Occasions features many fantastic songs that represent America and its citizens' love of country, and it's the perfect patriotic summer holiday soundtrack. Songs like "Yankee Doodle" and You're a Grand Old Flag" bring back memories of Fourth of July celebrations, while other songs such as "Amazing Grace" and "Taps" round the album out in an inspirational and moving way. This album contains over 50 minutes of classic, stirring patriotic music. Each piece is performed by one of the many great Military Bands of this country, including the United States Army Band, The United States Marine Band, The United States Coast Guard Band, and the United States Air Force Heritage of America Band. Patriotic Music for All Occasions is the ultimate collection of all the patriotic music we have come to know and love.

The Significance of Memorial Day May 25 2011, 2 Comments

Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day and originated in the aftermath of the 1861–65 Civil War, during which more American soldiers died than in any other war before or since. After the Civil War, grieving citizens around the nation began holding memorial ceremonies, decorating the graves of Civil War soldiers with flags and tributes. Waterloo, New York, is officially considered the "birthplace" of Memorial Day because it was the first to make the practice of honoring the Civil War dead a citywide event when it held its first Decoration Day in 1866.

CG Conn band Instrument Company May 25 2011, 1 Comment

C.G. Conn, the oldest continuous manufacturer of band instruments in America, literally gave birth to the U.S. band instrument manufacturing industry. Today, C.G. Conn encompasses some of the greatest names in musical instruments Always committed to serving the needs of students, music educators, amateurs, and professionals, C.G. Conn's history reflects a history of commitment to originality and quest for the ultimate in design and craftsmanship. Conn continues to be an industry leader in musical performance.

1st Brigade Band of Brodhead, Wisconsin May 25 2011, 2 Comments

In 1857, a group of citizens of Brodhead, Wisconsin, decided to form a brass band. They initially called themselves the Brodhead Tin Band, from the set of inexpensive tin instruments that they had purchased. Soon they purchased a set of brass instruments, however, and became known as the Brodhead Brass Band, or "B.B.B." Under that name, they performed at the debate between senatorial candidates Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas on August 27, 1858 at Freeport, Illinois.

Marine Band Featured on Performance Today! May 18 2011, 0 Comments

Marine Band Featured on Performance Today Performance Today's Thursday, May 19, broadcast will include Maestoso sostenuto from Symphony No. 53, Opus 377, Star Dawn, by Alan Hovhaness. This selection was performed Feb. 1, 2009, during the Marine Band's "Time Capsule: The Year 1961" concert, with Major Jason K. Fettig conducting. American Public Media's Performance Today is broadcast on 260 public radio stations across the country and is heard by about 1.3 million people each week. Each station individually decides what time to air the program. To find out where and when Performance Today is broadcast in your area, please visit Patrons may also visit, an independent website that can point the way to online listening. Many radio stations stream their signal on the internet, so it may be possible to tune in to a radio station across the country and hear Performance Today by visiting that station's website at the time they air it. Audio for the May 19 show will be available on for seven days following the broadcast.

Jack's Musings: Culture of Concert Band Music March 31 2011, 1 Comment

Band music in the form of concert band repertoire and military band journals of band music were evident in the early eighteenth century. The first real breakthrough came in 1909 when Gustav Holst composed the British band classic First Suite in Eb which has become a staple in the band library. He added his Second Suite in F in 1911. Original music for band was available in vast quantities from publishers as early as 1851(Groves), but unfortunately most of the material was boring and dull. The only real contribution was in the field of marches where there was an enormous proliferation. Some European band composers were responsible for tuneful overtures and waltzes such as Czech composer Julius Fücik. But by and large the concert band programs were filled with transcriptions for band of piano and symphonic music particularly overtures from opera.

2 Concerts, 1 Week! March 31 2011, 0 Comments

I had the rare privilege of hearing two of the greatest touring big band jazz bands in the past week. Last Wednesday, March 23, I attended a concert by the superb US Air Force Airmen of Note at Ingram Hall at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. This past Tuesday, March 29, I was equally lucky to here the US Army Field Band Jazz Ambassadors at Centennial High School in Franklin, TN. Both concerts were magnificent.

The Republican Guard Band March 31 2011, 2 Comments

The First in a New Series of  Famous Bands of the World Presented by Contributed by Jack Kopstein Republican Guard band With over one and a half centuries of experience behind it, the Republican Guard Wind Orchestra is one of the figureheads of French cultural heritage. On the 4th of August 1855, Jean-Georges Paulus was appointed at the head of the "Paris Guard Band.” On the 12th of March 1856, the decree making the orchestra official was signed by Napoleon III The Conservatoire National de Paris and the Musical Gymnasium trained up new musicians taken from the populace and Adolph.Sax provided new wind instruments for the military bands. Paulus, as orchestrator, adapted symphonic works for his new wind orchestra. This group rapidly made a reputation for itself, and on the 21st of July 1867, the Republican Guard Band carried off its first success at the international military band competition at the Grand Palais in Paris, playing the opening of Oberon and extracts from Lohengrin. On the 18th of September 1870, the Paris Guard became the Republican Guard. The “Republican Guard Band” was immediately raised to the status of a veritable cultural ambassador for the French Republic. Wherever they went, from the Royal Albert Hall in London in 1871 to the Peace Jubilee in Boston in 1872, Paulus and his “soldier artists” were a resounding success, firing public enthusiasm and making all the headlines, including A 70-day tour across the United States with 25 concerts between the 6th of June and the 14th of August 1874. "…At one point catastrophe threatened as the hall (the Pittsburgh Opera house), which was of very light construction, started to crack under the weight of the audience. Nothing disastrous happened though, and the theatre held firm, despite creaking out its complaints. Even the noise of the thunderous applause did not cause it to collapse.” Report of the concert held on the 24th of July 1872 The status of the musicians from the Republican Guard was rather different. At that time, military bands recruited “simple soldiers” to swell their ranks but the State offered the musicians from the Republican Guard a more attractive career as an NCO, thus attracting the musical elite of the time such as Henri Paradis (solo clarinet) or Léon Fontbonne (solo flute). A. Sellenick was the first composer-conductor at the head of the Republican Guard Band. He was the very prolific author of lyrical works and light music, some of which was specially written for the band. The care taken in recruiting the musicians and in the musical and professional qualities of the conductors reflects the artistic ambition of our band. “The soldier venerates his standard but he loves his music. He is proud of it, fusses over it and is indulgent towards it because it moves him, encourages him, consoles him, reminds him of his native country and inspires him with patriotism.” “La semaine musical” from Lille, 9th April 1882. The Marseillaise became the French national anthem in 1879, but its final version, tune and orchestration arranged by G. Wettge and A. Sellenick for military bands was not official until 1887. At this period, each concert given by the Republican Guard Band opened with the national anthem, putting the national values and Republican ideal to music. Thousands of musical societies organised the cultural life of the country at the end of the 19th century, relaying or succeeding the popular choral movement. For thousands of amateur musicians, the Republican Guard Band represented an inaccessible dream of artistic and social success. This “model” of the popular orchestra, exported by the band when it journeyed abroad, helped to spread the international reputation of French culture. •            1893 Gabriel Parès •            1911 Guillaume Balay •            1927 Pierre Dupont 1893 Gabriel Parès “I was twelve when I suddenly fell head over heels in love with music (....) The Republican Guard Band, playing in the gardens of the Palais-Royal, opened my eyes for me. The orchestra was playing Lucie de Lamermoor. (…) Something inside me broke free and just one week later I bought a cornet mouthpiece with my meagre supplies of pocket money…” Louis Ganne, author of “les Saltimbanques” and the famous Lorraine March The “Belle Epoque” was to be a period of resounding success for our orchestra. The presence of the Republican Guard brought the prestige of the Republic into popular events: concerts in parks and bandstands, inaugurations, festivals, etc. and 72,000 spectators at the exhibition in Tourcoing in 1906! The cornet reigned over the light music of the period and cornet players had “star” status. G. Pares, author of a treaty on “instrumentation and orchestration” enriched the repertoire of the orchestra still further, and the Band brought the works of “wise” composers to a huge variety of audiences, spreading and democratising the wide repertoire which held an important place in concert programmes. It was also under the baton of G. Parès that the first recordings of the Republican Guard Band were made under contract to the Pathé firm. Several thousand titles were soon available. The Republican Guard Band accompanied many diplomatic missions, which were becoming more and more urgent as the First World War loomed on the horizon. 1899, St Petersbourg: invited by the Tzar / 1902, Turin: international exhibition / 1904: Saint-Louis exhibition (USA), 41 concerts including Montreal and New York / 1906: 22 concerts at Covent Garden: Entente Cordiale / 1907: Valence ... “It would be an error to think that all orchestras must be organised according to a system based on the predominance of stringed instruments. Extremely good results can be obtained with the opposite balance of instruments.”  Hector Berlioz, Treatsie on orchestration. The Republican Guard Band accompanied the patriotic fervour in the aftermath of the victory of the Allies, just as it had after the First World War. A new type of popular music had crossed the Atlantic and the Republican Guard Band had to win back its place in a new cultural environment. In 1948, F.J. Brun was appointed to direct an orchestra of 40 strings which was created in addition to the 80 wind players in the Band. The idea of joining the two groups into one immense wind and string symphony orchestra was born in the Champs Elysée theatre on the 26th and 28th of April, 1948 for the orchestra’s centenary. Adaptations written for this new orchestral group were added to the repertoire. Unfortunately, the symphony orchestra did not inspire the composers of the period and in spite of a certain amount of success and trips which led it as far afield as the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, this orchestra was to remain a musical curiosity with no future. 1953 was to go down in history as the great tour of the century, organised by the Columbia Artiste Management. It covered 38,000kms across the United States over three months, 80 concerts and 178,000 spectators... In 1961, Japan discovered this “French-style” wind orchestra and its repertoire for the first time. 1973 Roger Boutry “When the Republican Guard Band came to Japan for the first time, we were far from imagining that its presence would put symphony orchestras into the shade. (…) Moreover, whatever the genre of the pieces they played, the sound and expression of the soloists had a particular charm and their ability to create an overall harmony and subtle balance evoked a true ideal for the genre.”  Band Journal, Japan 1984. The activity of the Republican Guard Band was now fully concert-orientated and no longer took part in military ceremonies. R. Boutry, a talented composer and arranger, adapted the orchestra’s repertoire for the public of his time. His original compositions for wind groups gave the band a new flavour, sometimes inspired by contemporary composers and sometimes by American musicians and jazz. The organisation of the orchestra on the stage was inspired by the symphony orchestra: the desks of the violins, violas, cellos and double basses were taken over by the clarinets, saxophones and euphoniums and the woodwind and brass soloists placed behind the tutti. A succession of trips to Japan was embarked on in 1984 and continued in 1987, 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001 and 2007. There are many wind orchestras in Japan and a public of true connoisseurs rushed to see the Republican Guard Band in concert during its trips. The Republican Guard Band became the Republican Guard Wind Orchestra in 1993, thus confirming its artistic and cultural vocation. 1997 François Boulanger F. Boulanger obtained the creation of an administrator's post for the orchestra, to be in charge of communication in order to satisfy the requirements of an orchestra seeking to uphold its reputation on the national and international stage. Japan, Korea, China, Russia and Kazakhstan are the latest places to be visited by the Republican Guard, still enthusiastically sharing with its public a musical heritage which has been shaped by generations of musicians of whom we are the heirs and guarantors. We would like to recommend the very well-researched book by Sylive Hue entitled "150 ans de Musique à la Garde Républicaine” (150 years of Music in the Republican Guard) for a full history of the orchestra. For more information on this incredible and interesting band, check out this website:

New Music Tuesday! March 08 2011, 0 Comments

String of Pearls $10 Offer

Gene Simmons in Iraq! February 09 2011, 1 Comment

Gene Simmons of KISS performed for troops in Iraq, paying tribute to each branch by performing their theme. Click the link below to see the video! Gene Simmons Military Tribute on YouTube

New Music Tuesday! Overtures February 08 2011, 0 Comments

Overtures $10 Offer

Get Overtures by the US Air Force Band here!

The American Brass Band Movement February 03 2011, 1 Comment

The phenomenal rise of the brass band in mid-nineteenth-century America can be better understood if we trace its antecedents and some of the technical developments that produced the type of brasswind family from soprano to bass that was the staple of our bands in the Civil War era. The aristocracy of colonial America supported the kind of ensemble for which Mozart and Haydn wrote their divertimenti, serenades, Feldparthien, and other open-air music under royal patronage. Thomas Jefferson, for example, wished to establish such an ensemble at Monticello for the entertainment of his household and suggested instrumentation to improve the U.S. Marine Band...

Taylor Branson February 03 2011, 1 Comment

Contributed by Jack Kopstein


Born in Washington, D.C., 1880 - Died in Bethesda, Maryland, 1969

Taylor Branson was a native of Washington, D.C., who like his predecessor John Philip Sousa, seemed destined for a career in the U.S. Marine Band. His father was a country fiddler who read no music and wanted his son to become a "real musician." He arranged for the boy to study violin with Marine Band member William Santelmann, who would later direct said band for thirty years. After completing high school, Branson enlisted as a Marine Bandsman at the age of seventeen. He continued the study of violin (with Herman Rakemann) and began taking clarinet lessons with Andrea Coda and composition with Arthur S. Tregina, both members of the same band. He soon became concertmaster of the Marine Band Symphony Orchestra, serving as conductor during the Gridiron Club concerts. Branson was a pioneer in instrumental music broadcasting, conducting regular orchestral programs over NOF, the Naval Air Station, as early as 1919. He later introduced a radio program which was designed to benefit listeners who were invalids - the young announcer at the time was Arthur Godfrey. In 1921, Branson became second leader of the Marine Band and in 1927, he was appointed leader. In addition to American music, Branson programmed a great deal of music from other lands, including South America. One of his most prized awards, the "Cross of Boyaca," came from the Colombian Minister, Miguel Lopez Mumarejo, for his "untiring efforts in the promotion of closer cultural relations between the peoples of the Americas, by means of the diffusion of Latin American music in the United States." As a member of the prestigious Gridiron Club in Washington, Branson served as its musical director for over twenty-five years. He was also active as a guest conductor and adjudicator - in 1930, he was on the national high school panel which awarded first place to the Hobart High School Band, conducted by William D. Revelli. After serving with the Marine Band for over forty-one years, he retired with the rank of captain in 1940. At his death in 1969, Taylor Branson was survived by his wife, three daughters, and two sons. Most of Branson's marches were dedicated to the Marine Corps, including: Marine Corps Institute; General Lejeune; Tell It to the Marines; Marines of Belleau Woods; The President's Own; Eagle, Globe and Anchor; Headquarters, U.S.M.C.; and Marine Corps Reserves. Others include The Times Picayune Centennial and Benjamin Franklin University. (Information from Kenneth Berger, John Burroughs, Jim Mann, Albert F. Schoepper, and the U.S. Marine Band.)

Community Band Spotlight February 2011 February 03 2011, 0 Comments

It seems that most people figure out what they love at an early age. Some enjoy sports and want to be famous athletes. Some enjoy adventures and want to be astronauts or cowboys. Others, such as the members of the Madison Community Band, enjoy music and wish to share that love and enjoyment with others! They are changing their community one musician at a time with their philanthropic spirit. Read on to see why we chose this great band to be in our Spotlight for February!

Early Jazz and Concert/Military Band Instruments February 03 2011, 0 Comments

Jack's Musings / Contributed by Jack Kopstein Jazz was still in its embryonic stage in the first decade of the 20th century. Some of the first jazz icons, trumpeter Louis Armstrong and cornetist Bix Beiderbecke, were born in 1901 and 1903, respectively. Both began their careers in marching bands . They were most likely exposed to ragtime music, a blending of blues, John Phillip Sousa-like marches, and a complex centuries-old dance called the quadrille. Pianist Jelly Roll Morton helped bring the style into the limelight by performing virtuosic and partly improvised rags in brothels in New Orleans. Soon ragtime music by Morton, Scott Joplin, and others was circulated across the country by sheet music publishers such as W.C. Handy, who was also a composer and bandleader. However, around this period, sheet music began to lose its superiority in the spread of musical culture with the development of piano rolls and the phonograph record. The C Melody Sax also was an  instrument which was useful. Trumpeter Buddy Bolden began arranging blues and ragtime music for brass instruments, paving the way for early jazz. Arrangements helped shift the music away from a hit and miss style to a definite progression of both chords and melody/harmony. He was one of the first prominent improvisers, although there are no surviving recordings of his playing. In 1907, he was diagnosed with schizophrenia and he spent the rest of his life off of the stage, and in a mental institution. In a matter of years, jazz began to capture the nation’s attention. Improvisation became a featured element of the music, and dance halls began to fill with audiences eager to hear the hot new music. The early use of the clarinet by New Orleans musicians introduced a unique sound to the early jazz band. The tonality of the instrument lent itself to early jazz because of its ability to play in three distinctive registers. Clarinet players soon learned as well that they could easily double on the saxophone and this added a new dimension to the jazz band. The trombone, which certainly was a welcome addition, could play in a variety of styles and was especially useful in harmony especially in combination of threes which came later. Another instrument that was employed very often in the early combos was the tuba which added depth to the arrangements. Percussion was very much a part of the very early bands.  The development of the drum set revolutionized jazz percussion and gave the bands increased  flexibility and a diversity which made them great vehicles for not only performance but dancing. 1910 - 1920 During the decade between 1910 and 1920, the seeds of jazz began to take root. New Orleans, the vibrant and chromatic port city in which ragtime was based, was home to a number of budding musicians and a new style. In 1913, Louis Armstrong was sent to live in a juvenile delinquency home, and there he learned to play the cornet. Just five years later, band leader Kid Ory lost his star cornet player, Joe “King” Oliver, to more lucrative pursuits in Chicago. Ory hired Armstrong, and helped give rise to a talent that would change the course of music. Thanks to the large population of former slaves in New Orleans at the time, the blues was on the minds of many of the city’s musicians. Composers such as W.C. Handy helped make the sound famous, but not before restructuring and refining it. It was around this time that the blues adopted its regular 12-bar form, and when brass bands played the blues to reviling dancers. Handy’s “St. Louis Blues” became a popular hit, and Louis Armstrong later performed one of its best-known renditions. The St. Louis march became a staple of both the jazz band and the military bands of the period. Along with a standardized blues form, this decade saw the prominence of stride piano. Its rhythmic concept began with ragtime, and soon spread around the country. Most famously, thanks to Scott Joplin and James P. Johnson, the stride style had taken a firm hold in New York City, where during the Harlem Renaissance of the following decade it led to further developments in jazz. The first jazz recording ever was made in 1917. The Original Dixieland Jazz Band, led by cornetist Nick LaRocca, recorded “Livery Stable Blues.” The music is not thought to be the most authentic or the best executed jazz of the time, but it became a hit and helped light the fuse that led to the jazz craze. Freddy Keppard, a trumpet player who was regarded as one of the best musicians of his day, was given the opportunity to record in 1915. He declined the offer because he was afraid that if a recording of his playing circulated, musicians might steal his style. As can be determined from this brief survey of early jazz players and instrumentalists, the military band had a impact on jazz because of the similarity of the instrumentation.  In this case we can draw a very simple parallel with the following chart of military or concert bands. The chart was drawn from photographs of the era from various sources.
Military band Usual Numerical numbers Jazz band Usual Numerical performers
Flutes/Oboes 1-3 Flutes 2 Oboes Employed much later by  Paul Whiteman 1 flute oboe as required
Clarinets 6-12 (includes bass clarinet) Clarinet 1 See saxophone
Alto Sax 2 1 Double clarinet
Tenor sax 1 1 Double clarinet
Baritone Sax 1 1 Double bass clarinet
French Horns(altos 2-4 N/A N/A
Trumpets/Cornets 3-6 3 early bands 1 3 Divided parts
Trombones 3 2-3 early bands 1 3 When divided parts
Baritone Horn 1-2 N/A N/A
Tuba 1-3 1 Used often in small groups
Percussion 1-4 1 Drum set made 1 player only required
Piano Not usual 1 Essential
String Bass 1  often employed 1 Essential
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NEW MUSIC TUESDAY! American Premieres January 26 2011, 0 Comments

American Premieres, New Music Tuesday $10 Deal

New Music Wednesday January 12 2011, 1 Comment

Due to a couple inches of snow in our area, we were kept out of the office this past Monday. SO here is New Music Tuesday a day late! We present to you Windscapes, performed by the US Air Force Academy Band. Featuring 14 skill-testing tracks, this album is a true show of the capabilities of the band and of their dedication to producing music they can be proud to have in their repertoire. Beautiful tones and melodies are found throughout on songs such as the fast-paced album opener "Windsprints," "Concerto for Trombone," and Henry Fillmore's well-known favorite,"The Circus Bee." If you are a concert band or wind instrument fan, you will not want to miss this fantastic album from the US Air Force Academy Band! The Disc on Demand album is $10, and the MP3 digital album is $7, both now through Monday! Click the image below to go to the website. Windscapes $10 Offer

Guiseppe Creatore: Colourful Genius of the Concert Stage December 22 2010, 11 Comments

Contributed by Jack Kopstein

Born in Naples, Italy, 1871-Died in New York City, 1952 Giuseppe Creatore's fame rivaled that of his contemporary, John Philip Sousa, during the first two decades of the twentieth century. By combining showmanship with musicianship, he and his concert band performed to huge and enthusiastic audiences in the United States, Canada, and England. Creatore was born in Naples, Italy, in 1871. He studied with Nicola d'Arienzo and Camillo de Nardis at the Conservatory of San Piestro a Majella in Naples and became an excellent trombonist and conductor. He reportedly became conductor of the Naples Municipal Band in 1887 when he was seventeen--some researchers believe that Creatore conducted a less well known band.

Creatore immigrated to the United States in 1899, playing trombone in Ellery's Royal Italian Band for a time and becoming an overnight celebrity when he replaced the conductor Minoliti, who had become ill. By taking the members of the Italian Band who were dissatisfied with their conductor and hiring several more musicians, Creatore formed his own band early in 1901, performed at the Atlantic City Steel Pier from February through July, and concluded the season with a 5,000 mile tour. In spite of the rave reviews during the tour, Creatore was not satisfied with the quality of his musicians.

Returning to Italy in the fall of 1901, Creatore recruited sixty outstanding musicians who accompanied him back to the United States in 1902 for a series of triumphant concert tours. His cornet soloist from 1903 to 1906 was Michael Cupero, brother of the composer-conductor Edward V. Cupero. Creatore's success encouraged the immigration of other Italian bandmasters, such as Marco Vessella, AIfredo Tommasino, and Don Philippini, but none had the phenomenal success enjoyed by Creatore.

In his book Bands of America, H. W. Schwartz devotes several pages to the controversial Italian whose conducting mannerisms hypnotized some concert-goers and insulted others. In 1983 Leonard Falcone, a famous euphonium soloist and former conductor of bands at Michigan State University and Wayne University, wrote a letter which included the following personal description of a Creatore Band concert:

The one and only time I saw and heard Creatore and his band play was in Detroit some fifty or so years ago. The band stood up in a circle around the conductor--like the old way in Italy. Creatore was an imposing figure--tall and well built. He wore a white uniform and white gloves. His conducting style was still flamboyant. Occasionally he would walk over and conduct an individual player or section--in other words a great showman. Nevertheless, the band played beautifully--very artistic and with a very expressive style.(the Detroit Free Press was not as kind calling Creatore’s performance ‘Comic Relief”  for Detroit autoworkers)

There is no doubt that Creatore had an animated style of conducting with contortions, leaps, darts into the middle of the band, flailing arms, jerky head motions, pleading gestures while he knelt down, cajoling his players with all manner of finger and arm movements while circling the baton, and all kinds of gymnastic techniques-exciting audiences to a frenzy of clapping, bravos, and other signs of approval. (Swartz p. 214)

During his heyday Creatore's Band was booked solidly; his fee reportedly reached $5,000 for each performance. Although he made many successful tours on the Chataqua circuits between 1910 and 1916, the unstable wartime conditions and the competition from other business bands gradually reduced the number of concert opportunities. In 1917 Creatore formed an opera company which opened with a ten-week tour and continued for five years with longer seasons. The twenty-week 1918 tour opened in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and included the cities of Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal, Quebec, Cleveland, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Buffalo, Toledo, Toronto, and Detroit.

The company's repertory included such favorites as Rigoletto, Barber of Seville,Carmen; Cavalleria Rusticana, Pagliacci, Il Trovatore, La Traviata, Martha, Faust, Lucia di Lammermoor, La Gioconda: and Aida. In 1931 Creatore began conducting a symphony orchestra in a series of open-air concerts and by 1937 he was conducting both the New York State Symphonic Band and the New York City Symphonic Orchestra in a succession of programs sponsored by the government Works Progress Administration. However, Creatore resigned his music post in 1940 after a disagreement with officials of the WPA Music Project. The rift developed when the officials refused to pay the conductor while he was guest conducting in other cities, and also because they felt he was not spending enough time on an arrangement for a combined band and orchestra concert. Creatore was quoted as saying, "I am a musician, not a bridge-building project. So I resign."

After a seven-year retirement, Creatore made his final public appearance in 1947 as guest conductor of the New York State Symphonic Band in a "pop" concert at the Tri-Boro Stadium on Randalls Island. He died in 1952 at the age of eighty-two, leaving his wife, Rosina, and children: Tommaso and Peter (of an earlier marriage), Ezio, Carlo, Luigi, and Alba.

Creatore arranged numerous Italian operatic selections for band, most of which are still in manuscript form. Some of his original march titles were changed by the publisher Di Bella. Examples include: Maresciallo Cadorna, Marshall (Luigi) Cadorna, which became Marcia Sinfonica in Fa Maggiore, Symphonic March in Fa MajorLa Sincope-Syncopation, changed to Marcia Sinfonica in Do Minore, and Symphonic March in C Minor. Two of these, plus American Aviation, Columbia, March No. 2, and March No. 3, were recorded by the U.S. Coast Guard Band for the Heritage of the March series. Others include: American Navy, Columbus, Royal Purple, and Electric. Now available on NAXOS Norman Smith march Notes ARSC Journal

(Information from Jeri Anne Cupero, Leonard Falcone, James W. Herbert, Robert Hoe, New York Times, Franz Pazdirek, Carlo Schmidl, H. W. Schwartz, Nicolas Slonimsky, and Frederick P. Williams)


- Jack Kopstein