Arthur Wellesley Hughes (1870–1945/1950) was a Canadian musician, band arranger, instrumentalist, and composer. Born in Kingston, eastern Ontario, ca. 1870, he separated from his family at a young age, spending many years in the United States as an itinerant circus musician. Little is known about Hughes’ musical background except that he played the piano and a brass instrument and was a teacher of L.F. Addison. He was a performer on piano, calliope, and alto horn. His circus associations on record include Mighty Haag Circus; Downie & Wheeler Circus (1912); Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus (1922); Sells-Floto Circus (1923); and Ringling Bros & Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows (1924-26) where he operated the steam calliope. He was with Robbins Bros. Circus (1928–29) whence his Robbins Bros. Triumphal March arose; Miller Bros. 101 Ranch Wild West Show; and Walter L. Main Circus (1930–31).
At the turn of the century Hughes began editing and arranging for a succession of music publishers. He worked as composer and arranger for the Waterloo Music Company of Waterloo, Ontario, from 1932-1935. At other times, Hughes worked as arranger in various publishing houses, such as Whaley-Royce in Toronto, and Cundy-Bettoney in Boston. Others included Anglo-Canadian, W.H. Billing, A.H. Goetting, W.H. Hodgins, W.F. Shaw, H.H. Sparks, and Gordon V. Thompson. According to his own account, Hughes wrote band music in the U.S.A. for much of his life, under various pen names, including Arthur Wellesley and H. W. Arthur.
Hughes was one of Canada’s most prolific writers of marches and dance music, producing ca. 1890-1930 some 50 published works and numerous arrangements. Typical are United Empire March, In Old Quebec, The Rosedale Three-Step, Hail Edward VII, and March of the Allies. One of his best-known works, the St. Julien March was published by Cundy-Bettoney in 1918. Recordings of his compositions for band were issued on the Columbia, Pathé, Victor, and other labels. In his 70s, Hughes returned to Kansas, which he considered his home. It is reported that he died in an indigent ward in a New York City hospital in ca. 1945-1950.
The following work by Arthur Wellesley Hughes is contained in my collection:
St. Julien March.