Home » Uncategorized » Russell Alexander and “Colossus of Columbia”

Russell Alexander and “Colossus of Columbia”

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Russell Alexander (February 26, 1877 – October 1, 1915) was an entertainer and composer, active primarily with vaudeville shows and musical comedy organizations.  Alexander was born on February 26, 1877, in Nevada, Missouri.  Little is known of his training and activities as a youth, but he became a euphonium virtuoso who joined the circus band of Belford’s Carnival at the age of 18.  His earliest published work “The Darlington March” was published by C. L. Barnhouse in 1896.  At 20, he joined the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band in 1898 as euphonium player and musical arranger and toured Europe from 1898 to 1902.  In 1901 he composed what is probably his most famous march, “Colossus of Columbia.”

Following his tour with Barnum and Bailey, Alexander worked as a member of a popular novelty musical vaudeville act called “The Exposition Four” with his two brothers, Newton and Woodruff, and a third individual, all of whom were accomplished musicians.  They performed extensively and achieved a great deal of notariety.  Although his compositional output was relatively small, he is considered a great composer of marches. Over the course of his career, he composed some 33 marches, including The Southerner March (1908),  six galops, three overtures, novelties, and several other works.

Alexander suffered from poor health, and died in Liberty, New York, at the age of 38 on October 1, 1915. Several of his marches are considered standard repertoir, and remain popular to this day.  Most of these were published by C. L. Barnhouse Co., to whom Alexander’s widow sold the rights to his music shortly after his death.  On July 20, 2015, a memorial plaque honoring Alexander was unveiled on the Main Street Stage in Liberty, NY, just a short distance from the Old Town Cemetery in which Alexander is buried. The ceremony included a performance of seven Alexander works, and the event was sponsored by Windjammers, Unlimited.

The following works by Russell Alexander are contained in my collection.

Colossus of Columbia.

The Southerner.

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