Thomas Coates: The Father of Band Music in America - Newberry's Victorian Cornet Band
The monument to Thomas Coates (1803/13 1895) in the 7th Street Cemetery in Easton, Pennsylvania, bears the inscription The Father of Band Music in America. This is a rather remarkable claim on behalf of a musician so little known today, and the sentiment may simply reflect the pride of the community regarding a fellow citizen who was an important part of the wind band movement in the United States. A closer look at the career of Coates, however, suggests that the epitaph may contain a larger element of truth than his modern obscurity may indicate. Perhaps the inscription may be better stated as A Father of Band Music in America, because at every important moment in the rise of the idiom, his contemporaries acknowledged his importance. He was likely a very early circus bandmaster, his compositions and arrangements were popular before, during and after the Civil War, and he was named by the United States government to a federal commission to improve the quality of military band music. He was respected by his fellow band leaders, and his funeral marches were given particular praise as the finest composed for wind band. He produced works for band, piano, voice, and he was an important leader in the establishment of the community guitar ensembles of the late Victorian Era.
This recording presents music from late 19th-century printed and manuscript parts. Music publishers rarely produced scores before the 1890s, so scores were prepared from the collected parts for the recording by Michael B. O Connor. The errors and inconsistencies in these parts were considerable, revealing that apparent little attention was given to the proof reading of individual parts before publication. The instruments played on the recording were constructed during the second half of the 19th century, although a few were built during the first decade of the 20th century on models designed in the previous century, using the same materials and construction methods. The band also played period mouthpieces, a rare practice in these types of recordings. Although presenting challenges for the players, the use of the original mouthpieces is essential in capturing the sound of these instruments. Late Victorian instruments in the United States were generally pitched higher than A=450Hz and this recording was performed at A=454Hz.
Throughout his career, conductor Douglas Hedwig has pursued a wide diversity of expression. As a trumpeter, he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 27 years, performing with the greatest conductors of his generation. As founding-member and director of the Metropolitan Brass Quartet, he toured nationally and internationally under Columbia Artists and Maxim Gershunoff managements. As former 1st Cornet and Soloist with the Goldman Band (1976-2005), he performed and recorded under the baton of such American band greats as Richard Goldman, Leonard Smith, Ainslee Cox and Morton Gould. As Music Director and Conductor of the Coates Brass Band, Hedwig led the group in Quickstep, a recording of all the known Civil War period compositions of Thomas Coates [MSR MS1422].
Newberry s Victorian Cornet Band was founded in 2002 by Michael O Connor to explore the largely forgotten repertoire of wind band music composed between the end of the Civil War and the advent of the Sousa Band in 1892. This was a formative era for the instrumentation and the music of the American wind band, and the music played by these bands was one of the primary entertainment options available to most Americans. The Newberry Band plays only music published during this time on instruments from the era with original period mouthpieces. Our name reflects the practice of Victorian bands naming themselves after their leaders, even after another leader has taken over. In that spirit, we take our name from our original stage leader, Flora Newberry.
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SAMPLE - "Bontey en avant" Quickstep