Band (University of Michigan) Records

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Band (University of Michigan) records

The materials in this online repository form part of a larger Band (University of Michigan) record group held by the Bentley Historical Library. For a more complete index to the materials, please consult the collection's online finding aid.

For questions or more information, please contact the Bentley Historical Library's Division of Reference and Access Services

Established by students in 1896, the University of Michigan Band had its first salaried director in 1915. The William Revelli era (1935-1971) brought the Band to prominence as the marching, concert, and symphony bands toured and performed extensively, including a tour of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union by the Symphony band in 1961. Records include scrapbooks of band activities, 1929-1977 (including photographs); bound volumes ("Blue Books"), 1936-present, containing band formations, newsletters, and announcements of band activities, also topical files relating to band tours and concerts. The Marching Band is best documented, although concert band, symphony band, and related ensembles are represented.

The Michigan Band was begun in the fall of 1896 as the result of a grassroots student effort. An entirely student-run organization, the band received no support from the university. They first performed at the Law School's annual observance of Washington's Birthday in February 1897, and based on this performance, were granted permission to rehearse in University buildings.

By the fall of 1898, the band was playing at all football games and mass meetings. However, beset with financial problems and internal conflicts, the band took a temporary break in the winter of 1903. The following fall, it was announced that William Hoffman would serve as the band's new conductor and the group began performing at football games again.

Eugene Fischer's direction succeeded William Hoffman. During his years as director, he received little or no remuneration for his services as director of the University band. His advocacy paid off in 1913 when the Board of Regents agreed to fund the band. In the summer of 1915, it was announced that the university had hired Wilfred Wilson to serve as the conductor of the University of Michigan Band. He was the first conductor of the band whose salary was provided by the university. By the time he left Ann Arbor in 1926, the band had grown from 40 members to nearly 100. The band also gained a permanent space in Morris Hall. At this time, the band encompassed two organizations, the Varsity Band and the Concert Band.

In 1926, Wilfred Wilson resigned as conductor of University Bands and was succeeded by Norman Larson, who served as conductor of the Michigan Band for the 1926-27 academic year. In 1927, Nicholas Falcone was appointed as conductor. Despite the protests of many people in Ann Arbor at the time, he admitted African-Americans and women into the band in 1932. However, women were allowed only in the Concert Band. During the Nicholas Falcone years, the Varsity Band's drills were supervised by faculty members of the University ROTC.

In 1935, Falcone resigned due to loss of hearing. The university hired William Revelli to take his place. He required all male wind instrument majors to participate in the Marching Band. (In the fall of 1940, the university took over full management of the School of Music. It had been an adjunct part of the University since 1929.) This requirement greatly increased the number of students in the Marching Band, making the rehearsal space of Morris Hall inadequate. To raise money for the band, Varsity Night, an all-campus talent show sponsored by the University Bands, was begun. By the 1960s, this annual concert had evolved into Band-o-rama which features all six University Bands.

When the United States declared war in 1941, the University of Michigan band was one of the only bands in the country to continue operating. After the war, the Marching Band severed its connections with the ROTC. In 1946, the band moved to a new home, Harris Hall, which during the war had been used as the university USO center. Shortly afterward, in 1948, the Lambda Chapter of Tau Beta Sigma, the National Honorary Band Sorority, was established.

During his time as director, Revelli led the Symphony Band on two tours, including a goodwill tour to Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1961. When Dr. Revelli retired in the summer of 1971, the Michigan Bands consisted of six bands with an enrollment of nearly 500 students. George Cavender succeeded Revelli as Director of University Bands. Through his efforts, funds were raised and a new state-of-the-art facility named Revelli Hall was built to house the Marching Band. Under his direction, women were admitted into the Marching Band in 1972. Cavender was the last person to serve as both Director of Bands and the Director of the Marching Band. He retired as Director of Bands in 1975, and was succeeded by H. Robert Reynolds. After Cavender's retirement from the Marching Band in 1978, Glenn Richter took over for one year as the conductor. He was succeeded by Eric Becher, a native of Ann Arbor, who conducted the Marching Band from 1980-1989. On January 1, 1983, the Marching Band became the first recipient of the Louis Sudler National Intercollegiate Marching Band Trophy.

In 1989, Eric Becher was succeeded by Band Alumnus, Jerry Luckhardt, who in turn was followed by Gary Lewis as Director of the Marching Band in 1990. Lewis left the Marching Band after the 1994 season. In 1995, Band Alumnus Jeff Grogan, served as the interim director and then as assistant director under Kevin Sedatole in 1996. Dr. Sedatole was appointed the Donald R. Shepherd Assistant Professor of Conducting and the Director of the Michigan Marching Band from 1996-1999. Sedatole left after three years and was succeeded by James Tapia, who served as director from 1999-2001. In 2001, many changes took place. Michael Haithcock was hired as the new Director of Bands, replacing H. Robert Reynolds, who retired in 2001 after 26 years. Dr. Tapia left the Marching Band at the same time. Jamie L. Nix, a University of Michigan and School of Music alumnus was hired in 2001 to become the 13th Director of the Marching Band. Nix left in 2006 and was replaced by Scott Boerma in 2007.

Please note:

Copyright has been transferred to the Regents of the University of Michigan.

Access to digitized sound recordings may be limited to the reading room of the Bentley Historical Library, located on the Ann Arbor campus of the University of Michigan.

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