Series: Directors

This series of images focuses upon the directors of Iowa's various town bands. These men molded their bands, over-seeing every detail of performance, presentation, and appearance. They assumed an air of authority and were generally revered by band members and audiences alike.

But the job was not all artistry and adulation. Many bands recruited novices. It fell upon the directors to teach them to play. While some bands elected officers to fill various administrative duties, others expected the director to execute these tasks. Many directors served more than one band at a time, which required that they balance the needs of multiple bands.

When they were younger, many of the more distinguished directors had enjoyed careers as performers, playing theater orchestras, traveling circus bands, or on the lyceum and vaudeville circuits. And, just like Prof. Harold Hill in Meredith Wilson's The Music Man, some directors supplemented their incomes by taking commissions on the sales of instruments to the members of the bands that they led.

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Des Moines


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No collection of images of Iowa's notable band directors would be complete without an image of Karl L. King - Iowa's "March King." Sadly, since I have yet to acquire a picture of Karl King, it follows that this collection is still incomplete.

The members of the Karl King Band in Fort Dodge - which is still going strong over four decades after King's death in 1971 - have put together a very good web site on King and the King Band that includes lots of great images. So for now, I will simply link to their site:

Karl King: Circus Bandleader and March King



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