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Euphoniumists of the Past, reprinted from Euphonia

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NOTE: this article is reprinted from Euphonia magazine, April, 1980, with permission of the publisher, Glenn Call.


This piece is primarily about the fine Euphonium players of the past, however, some were only known as baritone players. Many of the names mentioned here are unknown to this generation of musicians, although some may be familiar because of their compositions written for the Euphonium.

One of the first fine Euphoniumists to appear on the American band scene was Mr. HARRY WHITTIER from Boston and New York. Whittier composed or arranged a number of solo compositions for the Euphonium published by the J.W. Pepper Company, one being his arrangement of the "Carnival of Venice". He played for a time with Gillmore's Band and for a long period with Reeve's American Band of Providence.

JOSEPH M. RAFFAYOLA, a truly great artist on the Euphonium, played for an extended time with Gillmore's Band after his arrival in the United States and later played several seasons with Sousa's Band. Raffayola had the distinction of being the great Simone Mantia's only teacher, and while many contended that Mantia was a better soloist than his teacher, others thought it was a draw. It should be noted here that H.E. Whitaker, a baritone player of the first rank, sat along side Raffayola for a number of years in Gillmore's Band.

Although many readers have heard the name of GEORGE STEWART, a great organizer of bands in the Boston area who headed his own band for many years, few know that he began his career as a baritone player. He arranged a number of solos for the baritone in the 1870's. His first public playing was with Hall's Band of Boston, on the Fall River Line of steamboats, playing between Boston and New York for $18.00 per week. During the season of 1873 he played baritone with the John Robinson Circus Band and arranged variations on the following well known tunes for baritone: "Old Folks at Home", "My Old Kentucky Home", and "Longing for Home" in a pattern set by the venerable Boston composer, T.H. Rollinson. These solos were published by the old Cundy Publishing Company of Boston. In late 1875, Stewart was the contracted baritone player of the famed Germania Band of Boston, which in 1886 became known as Stewart's Band. For many years the band was under the direction of Emil Mollenhauer. When the Boston Symphony Orchestra was first organized in 1881, Stewart was the bass trombone player. In 1889 he organized the Boston Festival Orchestra, which made eighteen tours across the United States. At the St. Louis World's Fair in 1904, George Stewart was chairman of the Music Committee. He continued to be active in Boston Music affairs for many years until his health failed in 1934. George Stewart died in Boston in 1940 at the age of ninety.

E.E. BAGLEY was another fine Boston baritonist, but is known today only as the composer of the "National Emblem March". His brother, Ezra Bagley was a noted cornetist and is included in my book, Pioneers in Brass.

I know everyone is acquainted with the name SIMONE MANTIA who is written up in detail in the above-mentioned book. What aspiring Euphonium player hasn't tried to play one of his compositions for the Euphonium? Mantia was born February 6th 1873 and died in 1951.

The name JOHN PERFETTO I know rings a bell with Euphonium players. Perfetto played about nine seasons with Sousa's Band, and later with both the Conway and the Goldman Bands. In 1940 he was the regular Euphoniumist with the World's Fair Band, and for a number of years he played trombone in New York theaters. A number of solos were written by Perfetto.

JOSEPH DeLUCA was truly a great artist on the Euphonium who first appeared in this country as soloist with Creatore's Band, and later as soloist with Sousa's Band for possibly eight seasons. He settled in Philadelphia where he was on the staff of the Curtis Institute of Music. His valse caprice, "Beautiful Colorado", is still a must with most Euphoniumists. The author heard him play several times with Sousa's Band, and he was always superb.

Signor DeSANTIS is not a well known name today, however he was a fine Euphonium player who first appeared with Ellery's Band around 1906. He was a long time member of Vessella's Band and can be heard on many records made by this band.

The great Marine Band Euphoniumist, OLE MAY has been written about by this author in the journal of the Tubists' Universal Brotherhood Association (Vol. VII, No. 2).

Signor FORTUNATO SORDILLO was born in a town near Naples, Italy in 1885. At age fourteen he settled in Boston where he first studied music with the then prominent trombonist, Ripley. Later he was coached by Arthur Pryor and Herbert L. Clarke. Sordillo was Euphonium soloist with the Pryor, the Sousa, the Conway and the Stewart Bands of Boston. He also played trombone with the Savage Opera Company Orchestra and the Boston Opera Company and for a time with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In 1917, Sordillo published his Method for Brass Instruments which enjoyed wide circulation as a correspondence course.

Two well-known Euphonium soloists of the early 1900's were the famed MANTIA and SALVATORE FLORIO, both of whom played with various Italian Bands of the era. Florio was also known for solos on the valve trombone.

CINCONNE was Euphonium soloist with Kryl's Band in its early days. He was quite popular in the Chicago area before World War I. He produced a fine tone and had ample technique.

MARIO FALCONE was known for his fine trombone playing with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra for thirty four years, but he was also known for his solos on the Euphonium. He was a featured Euphonium soloist with Conway's Band in 1915.

Circus Euphoniumists

It is indeed regrettable that when musicians get together today, they seem to overlook the many fine players in the early circus bands. The names I will mention here are almost forgotten. How many now presently active, ever heard a real good circus band! Even the Ringling Brothers Circus Band is now nothing more than a pickÓup band, with possible five lead players on the permanent payroll and the remainder of the band made up of local musicians drawn from the city in which the circus plays. Most of the early large circuses carried from twenty five to thirty musicians; the smaller circuses, fifteen to eighteen musicians.

When we think of the great circus bands of the past, these names come to mind: Al Sweet, Fred Jewell, Karl King, C.Z. Bronson, Carl Clair, J.J. Richards, Bill Merrick, Gangweiller, Dick Masters, Jack Phillips, and last but not least, the fine bands of Merle Evans.

The Indianapolis Euphoniumist, NOBLE H. HOWARD, was soloist with Sousa's Band in 1928 and wrote several Euphonium solos. At the Steel Pier in Atlantic City that year, he played his own composition, "Concerto for Euphonium". Howard played five seasons (1934Ó1939) with the Ringling Brothers Circus Band. Merle Evans considers him the best Euphoniumist he ever had in any of his bands over a period of fifty years. Mr. Howard also played trombone with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra for several seasons.

Perhaps the finest baritone player in circus bands around 1900 would have been CHARLES SANGLAER. In 1908 he made the world tour with the then well known Kilties Band of Canada. Returning to the United States in 1910, he again played in circus bands until about 1915. In 1898 Sanglaer played with the old Wallace Brothers Circus Band under the direction of C.Z. Bronson. In 1904 he played in the Ringling Brothers Band with Fred Jewell as his side partner.

The early circus baritone players not only needed tone and volume, but also ample technique to play the marches and gallops at the tempo demanded in this type of work. Endurance was the name of the game with the long parades in large cities. A thirty minute Ring Concert preceding the circus performance of two and one half hours or more, both afternoon and night. Those musicians who couldn't make it soon departed!

FRED JEWELL, the prominent circus bandmaster and composer, began his career as a baritone player. He was born in Worthington, Indiana, on may 28, 1875. fie began to play the baritone at age twelve in a family band led by his father. His first trooping was with the Gentry's Dog and Pony Show (Circus) in 1899, for which he wrote the march "Gentry's Triumphal". Remaining with this circus through the season of 1901, in 1902 he joined the Ringling Brothers Circus Band, staying through 1904. It has been noted above that his side partner that season was Charles Sanglaer. The circus musicians used to rave about this great team of Euphoniumists being in the same band together. Quoting an old trouper: "Sanglaer and Fred Jewell took turns for the most part in playing the program and you couldn't tell where one left off and the other began. Fred was playing a Boston baritone and Sanglaer a Besson horn. They played so smoothly and with a fine tone quality. Myself and another trouper were in the audience. We were paying close attention to the fine band under the direction of Gangweiller. My friend suggested that we try and see if we could tell which of the baritones was playing without looking at them. We finally discovered that Jewell played a trifle louder, but just as smooth. I never in my lifetime ever heard two baritone players play so much alike."

During the seasons of 1905Ó1906 Jewell played with the SellsÓFloto Circus Band. The season of 1907 found him back in the Ringling Brothers Circus; this band being under the direction of Al Sweet. The circus carried a band of thirty five pieces that season. in 1908 Jewell became director of the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band, staying through 1909. Jewell now switched to the cornet, much to the chagrin of the old timers who liked his baritone playing so much. He was following the tradition of using the cornet to lead a circus band, which has continued down through the Merle Evans era. In 1910, Jewell led the Hagenbeck and Wallace Circus Band, continuing through the season of 1912.

After his trouping days were over, Jewell located in Oskaloosa Iowa, where he began to publish his own music. While in this area he led the Iowa Brigade Band. For a short period he led bands around Tampa, Florida. After returning to his home in Worthington, Indiana, he continued to publish his music, and for a time he conducted the Murat Shrine Band of Indianapolis. He became interested in the school band movement in southwestern Indiana, and also organized and directed the Worthington High School Band.

Jewell wrote over one hundred compositions for band, which included such marches as: "Quality Plus", "Gentry's Triumphal", "Shrine of Liberty", "March Counterpoint", "Old Timer's", "March of the Prophets", and "The Screamer".

In the season of 1924, this writer was playing trombone with the Hagenbeck and Wallace Circus Band when we played Bloomington, Indiana. After the parade we were privileged to meet Mr. Jewell. It so happened that two members of our band had played with Fred Jewell early in his career. What a reunion they had!

Fred Jewell died on February 11, 1936 at his home in Worthington, Indiana after a long illness.

KARL KING was one of the more noted bandmasters of the past, mainly because of his great reputation as a composer of not only circus music, but greatly enlarged field music compositions. Karl King was born in Paintsville, Ohio, on February 21, 1891. He later moved to Xenia, Ohio, and still later to Canton, Ohio, where he grew up. Like Fred Jewell, he began playing the baritone at age twelve, taking lessons from Mr. Strasser of Canton. At seventeen, he began playing baritone with the local bands in the area and in Columbus.

King began his circus career in 1909 by playing baritone with the John Robinson Circus Band and then at least one season with the Yankee Robinson Circus Band, and successively with the SellsÓFloto and Barnum and Bailey Circus Bands. In 1914 he was bandmaster of the SellsÓFloto and Buffalo Bill Wild West Shows, remaining three seasons. In 1917, King was bandmaster of the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band, continuing through the season of 1918.

King never forgot his favorite instrument, for he wrote the serenade, "Night in June" for the baritone, a piece still being played today. Probably his best-known composition was and is "Barnum and Bailey's Favorite". He composed over two hundred marches, gallops, overtures and other miscellany, and published ten band books for different grade bands.

Karl King returned to Canton after the close of the 1918 season with the Barnum and Bailey Circus. During the period 1919Ó1920 he conducted the Grand Army Band of Canton, at the same time starting his publishing business. The rest is history as he began his long association with the Fort Dodge Iowa Municipal Band in the Fall of 1920. It was here that he wrote and published a great quantity of music. The state highway bridge in Fort Dodge was named "The Karl King Bridge". How many Euphoniumists have had that honor bestowed upon them? Karl King died in Fort Dodge on March 31, 1971 at age eighty after a protracted illness.

EUPHONIA thanks Mr. Bridges for his work in shedding some light on Euphoniumists of the "Golden Age of Brass". EUPHONIA's readers will certainly want to take a close look at Mr. Bridges' major opus, PIONEERS IN BRASS which thoroughly covers the great artists from the brass world of yesterday. [An extremely interesting and readable hardback recommended by every brassman who has ever read it, PIONEERS IN BRASS is now out of print but may be found in many music libraries. -- ed.]

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