The Conservatoire National Supérieur de Musique et de Danse de Paris, also known as the Paris Conservatory, was established in France in 1795. Smaller music schools existed prior to the creation of the Conservatory, but their roles were markedly different. Many of these music schools did nothing more than pair a student with a teacher. However, the Ecole Royale de Musique et de Declamation and the Ecole gratuite de Musique de la Gard Nationale offered their students a more thorough music education. These two schools would eventually merge in order to create the Paris Conservatory.

The Ecole Royale de Musique et de Declamation, directed by François-Joseph Gossec, was established by royal decree in 1784. The primary purpose of this school was to train performers in general music, as well as singing and theatrical performance for operas, symphonies, and ballet.[1] In 1789 Gossec resigned from his school duties to work with Bernard Sarette and the Corps de Musique de la Garde Nationale.[2]

Sarette was a military band leader, who started a 45-member band meant to perform for civic festivals and demonstrations. A wind band of that proportion was unheard of prior to this, so to train instrumentalists for the ensemble, Sarette received funding from Paris to open the Ecole de Musique de la Garde Nationale in 1792. The 120 students who attended the school received free private instruction from the Corps de Musique de la Garde Nationale musicians.

Upon re-examination a brief three years later, the Convention Nationale concluded that supporting two music schools was not in the best interest of Paris and decided to reform the two into one school. Thus, the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique et de Danse was formed on August 3, 1795.[3]

Born into a family of instrument makers, Adolphe Sax created many instruments throughout the nineteenth century, yet his saxhorn (patented in 1845) and saxophone (patented in 1846) families remained the only instruments to maintain any real impact.[4] In 1858, he joined the faculty at the Paris Conservatory to create a saxophone studio, where he taught until the studio was disbanded in 1871 (later reinstated in 1900).

Saxhorns are conical brass instruments with upright valves endorsed by the Distin family. The Distins were a British family with their own quintet that performed throughout Europe and America and, in 1844, became the official agent for selling saxhorns. Concerts were well attended everywhere the quintet performed. Because of the Distin family’s travels, these instruments quickly became popular in the United States prior to Civil War.[5]

Traveling groups, like the Distin family quintet, along with a growing availability of instruments, inspired more brass bands to form throughout Europe and America. The brass band started in Europe at the end of the eighteenth century and functioned as military bands, church bands, and civic ensembles. Civic bands performed at social functions and were the most popular of the three types of ensembles.[6] Americans searched for new ways to create music, and the brass band allowed more amateurs to perform. They copied the idea from Europe, and brass bands began to form across the United States. Nineteenth-century music critic, John Sullivan Dwight wrote, “All at once the idea of a brass band shot forth: and from this prolific germ sprang up a multitude in every part of the land….”[7]

In 1828 Englishman, Thomas Dodworth arrived in New York with his sons Allen, Harvey, and Charles. Thomas played trombone, and Allen was a skilled piccolo player, so they joined the Independent Band of New York; however, in 1834, the community band changed its instrumentation to brass only. The band changed its name to The City Band of New York after changing the instrumentation. This was the first all-brass band in the United States, but the group disbanded soon after the change. Allen Dodworth immediately started a new brass band called the National Brass Band, and in 1836 the name was changed to the Dodworth Band.

Despite the growing criticism, the Dodworth Band had quite a career.   Allen’s younger brother Harvey took control of the band in the late 1830s, and he then allowed his son Oleon to succeed him in 1890. The band performed throughout New York, but its longest playing contract was performing at events with the 71st National Guard Regiment of New York.[8] In 1838 the Dodworth Band began using valved brass instruments and had them manufactured so that the bell was directed over the shoulder, facing behind the musician. These instruments were created so the sound would be directed at the military marching behind the band. This idea caught on with brass bands throughout the American Civil War era.

As brass bands rose in popularity, a higher standard of musicianship became established, which transferred to higher standards in wind bands. Military bands were vital in the United States during the 19th century. In 1798 President John Adams signed an Act of Congress to establish the United States Marine Band. The band had its first concert on August 21, 1800, with an ensemble of two oboes, two clarinets, two horns, a bassoon, and a drum.[9] By 1861 the ensemble reached 30 members and doubled to 60 musicians in 1899.[10]

Another significant 19th-century ensemble, the Boston Brigade Band, was formed in 1806 with an instrumentation of five clarinets, two bassoons, one trumpet, a triangle, and a bass drum. Under the direction of Patrick Gilmore in subsequent years, the Boston Brigade Band would eventually be known as Gilmore’s Band. Although it did not start as a military ensemble, the band eventually enlisted to motivate troops.[11]

Patrick Gilmore was born in County Galway, Ireland, on December 25, 1829. At 18, he joined a military band stationed in Canada to play corne. One year later, he moved to Boston where he established his career as “the greatest cornet virtuoso yet heard on the shores.”[12] The Boston Brass Band requested Gilmore to lead their ensemble in 1852, and then three years later, the Salem Brass Band requested the same. Already in high demand as a bandmaster, Gilmore was invited to lead the Boston Brigade Band in 1859. He agreed to take the position, but only if he had artistic freedom to make the band his own. The Brigade agreed and was renamed Gilmore’s Band.

In 1861, Gilmore enlisted his group with the 24th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment to travel and serve in the Civil War. After serving for a year, the members returned to Boston and gave concerts to encourage and sustain the morale of everyone at home. March 4, 1864, marked the inauguration of Governor Michael Hahn for the Union-controlled parishes in the state of Louisiana, and Gilmore was asked to assemble a band of mammoth proportions for the event. This “Grand National Band” consisted of 500 Army bandsmen. In addition to this epic ensemble, Gilmore organized a chorus of 5000 school children.[13] Gilmore later became famous for gigantic concerts like the one in Louisiana. In 1869 he assembled an even larger group of over 11,000 musicians for the National Peace Jubilee and Music Festival. The World Peace Jubilee and International Music Festival in 1872 saw his largest gathering of over 20,000 musicians.

In 1873, Gilmore left his band in Boston and became the leader of the 22nd Regiment Band of New York. He again changed the ensemble’s name to Gilmore’s Band and shifted the emphasis from brass to woodwinds, specifically the clarinet. After five years of taking over the group in New York, his band totaled 66 players:

Two piccolos

Two flutes

Two oboes

One A-flat sopranino clarinet

Three E-flat soprano clarinets

Sixteen B-flat clarinets

One alto clarinet

One bass clarinet

One soprano saxophone

One alto saxophone

One tenor saxophone

One bass saxophone

Two bassoons


One contrabassoon

One E-flat soprano cornet

Four B-flat cornets (first and second)

Two trumpets

Three flügelhorns

Four French horns

Two E-flat alto horns

Two tenor horns

Two euphoniums

Three trombones

Five bombardons (basses)

Four percussionists[14]


Gilmore recruited virtuosic soloists for his ensemble, including Matthew Arbuckle and Jules Levy on cornet and Frederick Innes on trombone. Then, to give the band the performance time it deserved, he took them on tour across the United States, Canada, and Europe. One program from Gilmore’s tour in 1876 included:

Overture, “Stabat Mater,” –Rossini

Piccolo Solo by Signor De Carlo, “Canary Polka,” – Decarlo

Andante, Fifth Symphony – Beethoven

Cornet Solo by Matthew Arbuckle, “Fantasie Original” – Hartman

Piano Solo by Hermann Rietzel, “Paraphrase on Themes from Rigeletto,” – Liszt

Song with soloist W. H. Stanley, “Good Bye, Sweetheart,” – Hatton

Grand Opera Fantasie – Meyerbeer

Scena from Il Trovatore – Verdi

Saxophone Solo by E. A. Lefebre, Variations on “Casta Diva,” – Bellini

Overture, “Jubel,” – Weber[15]

Gilmore died at 62 while on tour in St. Louis in 1892. Up-and-coming band leader John Philip Sousa wrote about Gilmore’s death stating, “He had gone into the highways and byways of the land, playing Wagner and Liszt, and other great composers, in places where their music was unknown, and their names scarcely more than a twice-repeated sound.”[16]

Sousa was born in Washington, D.C., in 1854. As a son of a trombonist in the US Marine Band, Sousa was given musical training from a young age. He attended the Esputa Conservatory of Music in D.C, with the violin as his principal instrument. At 13, Sousa wanted to run off and join a circus band, but his father enlisted him as an apprentice musician in the US Marine Band before he could go. He worked with this group for seven years before leaving to study violin and conducting. In 1879, the Marine Band asked Sousa to become its fourteenth director. He accepted the position and started in 1880.[17]

Sousa’s first goal as the leader of the Marine Band was to revitalize the organization. Today, the President’s Own Marine Band is a prestigious organization, but at that time, the group performed very poorly. He reorganized the band and ordered newer contemporary music from Europe, mostly coming from Paris. Under Sousa’s direction, the ensemble drastically improved, and President Harrison permitted him to take the band on tour across America.[18]

John Philip Sousa left his position as leader of the United States Marine Band to form his own group in 1892. This band would become what is known as the famous Sousa Band. The instrumentation of the 49-member ensemble in 1892 consisted of:

Two flutes

Two oboes

Two E-flat clarinets

Fourteen clarinets

One alto clarinet

One bass clarinet

Two bassoons

Three saxophones

Four cornets

Two trumpets

Four horns

Three trombones

Two euphoniums

Four basses

Three percussion[19]

The band had its first performance on September 26, 1892, two days after the death of Patrick Gilmore. Sousa’s ensemble would grow to 75 members that consisted of:

Six flutes (piccolos)                One baritone saxophone

Two oboes                              One bass saxophone

One English horn                    Six cornets

Twenty-six Bb clarinets          Two trumpets

One alto clarinet                      Four French horns

Two bass clarinets                  Four trombones

Two bassoons                         Two euphoniums

Four alto saxophones              Six sousaphones

Two tenor saxophones            Three percussion[20]

His ensemble featured great players such as Arthur Pryor, Herbert Clarke, Frank Simon, Walter Smith, J.J. Perfetto, and Simone Mantia. Several of these musicians would go on to form their own bands after performing for Sousa. 

Sousa followed a programming style similar to Gilmore, but added his signature marches. He wrote at least 136 marches and was nicknamed the “March King.”  An example of his music programming comes from a concert performed at the Metropolitan Opera House:

Overture – “Imperial” – Haydn-Westmeyer

Trombone Solo by Arthure Pryor – Air and Variations – Pryor

Slavonic Dance, No. 2 – Dvorak

Hungarian Dance, No. 6 – Brahms

Soprano Solo by Blanche Duffield- Waltz, “Maid of the Meadow,” – Sousa

Capriccio Italien – Tchaikovsky

Idyll “Ball Scene” – Czibulka

Ronde de Nuit – Gillery

“The Man Behind the Gun” – Sousa

Violin Solo by Bertha Bucklin, Adagio and Moto Perpetum from Third Suite – Ries

Fantasie – “Good-Bye,” – Sousa[21]

Other wind band leaders from the 19th century include David Wallis Reeves, Arthur Pryor, Thomas Preston Brooke, D.W. Reeves, Frederick Innes, Patrick Conway, Alessandro Liberati, Bohumir Kryl, Jean Missud, and Mace Gay.

David Wallis Reeves, a bandleader who was not as well-known as either Gilmore or Sousa, has a firm place in history. Born in 1838, he became a soloist in the Dodworth’s New York Band in 1862.  Four years after joining the Dodworth Band, Reeves became the leader of the American Band of Providence, Rhode Island. After Gilmore died in 1892, Reeves was promoted to the leader of the Gilmore Band, but he had little success. He had a reputation as a “stormy” leader, and many of the players in the group left to Sousa’s new band because of his temper.[22] However, he did have success as a composer of American band music, and wrote over 100 marches. Sousa called him “The Father of Band Music in America.”[23]

Frederick Neil Innes was a trombone soloist in Patrick Gilmore’s band from 1876-1883. In 1887 he formed his band before going on to lead the 13th Regiment Band of Brooklyn, New York. He was the first leader to include the string bass, harp, and chimes in his band; three instruments that are standard in today’s wind ensemble.[24]

  1. William Weber, Denis Arnold, Cynthia M. Gessele, Peter Cahn, Robert W. Oldani, and Janet Ritterman. "Conservatories." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed September 27, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000041225.
  2. Barry S. Brook, David E. Campbell, Monica H. Cohn, and Michael Fend. "Gossec, François-Joseph." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed 27 Sep. 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000011509.
  3. William Weber.
  4. Bate, Philip, and Wally Horwood. "Sax, Adolphe." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed October 4, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-90000380392.
  5. Margaret Hindle Hazen and Robert M. Hazen, The Music Men, (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987), 11, 95.
  6. Trevor Herbert, ed. Bands: The Brass Band Movement in the 19th and 20th Centuries, (Philadelphia: Open University Press, 1991), 12-14.
  7. Hazen and Hazen, The Music Men, 1.
  8. Cipolla, Frank J. "Dodworth." Grove Music Online. 2001; Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000046755.
  9. Hazen and Hazen, The Music Men, 7.
  10. Richard Franko Goldman, The Wind Band, (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1961), 38.
  11. Hazen and Hazen, The Music Men, 8.
  12. Goldman, The Wind Band, 49.
  13. Ibid, 50-51.
  14. Frank L. Battisti, The New Winds of Change: The Evolution of the Contemporary American Wind Band/Ensemble and Its Music. Meredith Music Publications, 2018, 9.
  15. Goldman, The Wind Band, 59-61.
  16. Battisti, The New Winds of Change: The Evolution of the Contemporary American Wind Band/Ensemble and Its Music, 9.
  17. Paul E. Bierley, "Sousa, John Philip." Grove Music Online.2001; Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000026305.
  18. Goldman, The Wind Band, 72.
  19. Ibid, 72.
  20. Ibid, 73.
  21. Ibid, 78-79.
  22. Frank J. Cipolla,"Reeves, David Wallis." Grove Music Online.2001; Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000046754.
  23. Battisti, The New Winds of Change: The Evolution of the Contemporary American Wind Band/Ensemble and Its Music, 10.
  24. Raoul F. Camus. "Innes, Frederick Neil." Grove Music Online.2001; Accessed October 5, 2022. https://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/grovemusic/view/10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.001.0001/omo-9781561592630-e-0000046120.


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