James O. Brockenshire and “Glory of the Trumpets”

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James Opie Brockenshire (c. 1854-1938) was an English-born American army bandmaster and composer of music for military band.   Brockenshire was born in Cornwall, England, perhaps about 1854.  He immigrated at a young age to Pennsylvania.  His wife’s name may have been Emma.  He became a musician and bandmaster with the U. S. Army for over fifty years and wrote a number of pieces for military band.   The “Iroquois Club” March was published by R. Frank Barr of Martinsburg, WV, in 1892.   His “General Chaffee’s March” was published on Apr. 29, 1889, by Harry Coleman, Philadelphia, PA, for the US Military Academy at West Point, NY.  The Discography of American Historical Recordings lists two of his recordings, the 1907 “Gallant Seventh March” played by the Victor Drum, Fife, and Bugle Corps; and the 1910 “Little Sweetheart” played by Marshall P. Lufsky, piccolo solo, with orchestra.   Also he wrote “Batangas Adios” (Bolero for Wind Band) that was published on Aug. 10, 1910 by Carl Fischer, New York City, NY.   His career included postings in China, Cuba, and the Philippines.  Brockenshire died in Everett, WA, on Dec. 30, 1938, and was buried at Highland Cemetery in Junction, Kansas.

The following work by James O. Brockenshire is contained in my collection:

Glory of the Trumpets (1916).

Carolyn Bremer and “Early Light”


Carolyn Bremer (b. 1957) is an American composer.  She was born in 1957.  Bremer studied at Eastman and CalArts, and received the Ph.D. from UC Santa Barbara. Carolyn was Chair of Composition at the University of Oklahoma from 1991 to 2000 where she held the O’Brien Presidential Professorship.  Currently, Carolyn is Director of the Bob Cole Conservatory at Cal State Long Beach: she immensely loves her job. Bremer has been dubbed a composer “driven by hobgoblins of post modernist cant.” She came to composition on the heels of intensive training as an orchestral bassist and began to focus her musical talents on composition at the age of twenty-four. Her catalogue contains works based on feminist symbolism (Athene), baseball (Early Light), and popular culture (It Makes Me Nervewracking). Recently, Bremer has incorporated her photography and music into multimedia works.

It is easy to regard Carolyn Bremer as a “one hit wonder.” Early Light is a mainstay in the wind ensemble repertoire, receiving hundreds of performances each year. The original version for orchestra has been performed by professional orchestras including the Houston Symphony California Philharmonic, Chattanooga Symphony, Oklahoma City Philharmonic, Holland Symphony, and Waco Symphony among others. An up and coming name in the world of contemporary composers, Bremer has created this arresting transcription for band of her orchestral work of the same name. Bright, tonal, and uplifting, the composition is as joyous and as full of wonder as is the title.  The wind version has been performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, for the 150th anniversary concert at WestPoint, and by the President’s Own Marine Band on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. It is recorded by over a dozen ensembles including the North Texas Winds and Heritage of American Band.

However, Bremer has also written thirteen other works for wind band.  Tibetan Singing Bowls play an ever-expanding role in Carolyn’s musical life. She and several colleagues perform interactive concerts in which the audiences listen to and then play the bowls. Singing bowls have informed her understanding of the experiential listening process and have led her to study the interaction of spacious, meditative listening, and composition. Other occasionally obsessive interests include landscape and concert photography, fountain pens and too many colors of ink, and just about any gadget made by Apple.

Bremer has had recent performances of her works at Carnegie Hall; in Germany, Norway, and Sweden; and for the gala 150th anniversary concert at West Point. Her commissions include the Symphony for Wind Band, premiered by Ray Cramer at Indiana University; Returns of the Day, premiered by Thomas Dvorak at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Pieces of Eight, premiered by the California State Honor band; Spark, premiered by Adam Brennan at Mansfield University; and Saturnalia, premiered by Calvin Hofer and the Mesa State Wind Symphony at the 2008 Best of the West Festival. Recent CDs include the El Paso Wind Symphony on Summit Records, the Heritage of American Band of the US Air Force, the Towson University Symphonic Band, and the Monarch Brass Ensemble.

My collection includes the following work by Carolyn Bremer:

Early Light (1995).

Luiz Bonfa and “Manha de Carnaval” from Black Orpheus


Luiz Floriano Bonfá (October 17, 1922 –January 12, 2001) was a Brazilian guitarist and composer, who was best known for the compositions he penned for the film Black Orpheus.  Bonfá was born on October 17, 1922, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He studied in Rio with Uruguayan classical guitarist Isaías Sávio from the age of 11. These weekly lessons entailed a long, harsh commute by train (2 1/2 hours one way) and on foot from his family home in Santa Cruz, the western rural outskirts of Rio de Janeiro to the teacher’s home in the hills of Santa Teresa. Given Bonfá’s extraordinary dedication and talent for the guitar, Sávio excused the youngster’s inability to pay for his lessons.  Bonfá first gained widespread exposure in Brazil in 1947 when he was featured on Rio’s Rádio Nacional, then an important showcase for up-and-coming talent. He was a member of the vocal group Quitandinha Serenaders in the late 1940s. Some of his first compositions, such as “Ranchinho de Palha” and “O Vento Não Sabe,” were recorded and performed by Brazilian crooner Dick Farney in the 1950s. Bonfá’s first hit song was “De Cigarro em Cigarro” recorded by Nora Ney in 1957.

It was through Farney that Bonfá was introduced to Antônio Carlos Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, the leading songwriting team behind the worldwide explosion of Brazilian jazz/pop music in the late 1950s and 1960s. Bonfá collaborated with them and with other prominent Brazilian musicians and artists in productions of de Moraes’ anthological play Orfeu da Conceição, which several years later gave origin to Marcel Camus’ 1959 film Black Orpheus (Orfeu Negro in Portuguese). In the burgeoning days of Rio de Janeiro’s thriving jazz scene, it was commonplace for musicians, artists, and dramatists to collaborate in such theatrical presentations. Bonfá wrote some of the original music featured in the film, including the numbers “Samba de Orfeu” and his most famous composition, “Manhã de Carnaval” (for which Carl Sigman later wrote a different set of English lyrics titled “A Day in the Life of a Fool”), which has been among the top ten standards played worldwide, according to The Guinness Book of World Records.

As a composer and performer, Bonfá was at heart an exponent of the bold, lyrical, lushly orchestrated, and emotionally charged samba-canção style that predated the arrival of João Gilberto’s more refined and subdued bossa nova style. Jobim, João Donato, Dorival Caymmi, and other contemporaries were also essentially samba-canção musicians until the sudden, massive popularity of the young Gilberto’s unique style of guitar playing and expressively muted vocals transformed the music of the day into the music of the future. Camus’ film and Gilberto’s and Jobim’s collaborations with American jazzmen such as Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd did much to bring Brazilian popular music to the attention of the world, and Bonfá became a highly visible ambassador of Brazilian music in the United States beginning with the famous November 1962 Bossa Nova concert at New York’s Carnegie Hall.

Bonfa’s song “Seville” from his 1967 LP Luiz Bonfa Plays Great Songs was the basis for the hit Somebody That I Used To Know by Belgian-Australian musician Gotye. Gotye’s song charted No. 1 in 27 countries.  Bonfá worked with American musicians such as Quincy Jones, George Benson, Stan Getz, and Frank Sinatra, recording several albums while in U.S. Elvis Presley sang a Bonfá composition, “Almost in Love” with lyrics by Randy Starr in the 1968 MGM film Live a Little, Love a Little. Also of note is his “The Gentle Rain,” with lyrics by Matt Dubey, and “Sambolero.”  Bonfá died at age 78 in Rio de Janeiro on January 12, 2001.  In 2005, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings released an album of Bonfá’s work, entitled Solo in Rio 1959, which included previously unreleased material from the original recording session.  In 2008, Universal Music France released a coffee table book containing two CDs which included previously unreleased material of the Black Orpheus soundtrack, and a DVD. Also in 2008, Universal Music released The Brazilian Scene, Braziliana and Black Orpheus celebrating the 50th anniversary of the bossa nova.

Bonfá’s major legacy continues to be his compositions from the Black Orpheus soundtrack, most notably the instantly recognizable bossa nova classic “Manhã de Carnaval.”  But Bonfá’s discography also attests to his uniquely inventive mastery of Brazilian jazz guitar. Bonfá’s guitar style was brassier and more penetrating than that of his major contemporary, João Gilberto, and Bonfá was a frequent and adept soloist whereas Gilberto plays his own suave, intricate brand of rhythm guitar almost exclusively. Bonfá often played solo guitar in a polyphonic style, harmonizing melody lines in a manner similar to that made famous by Wes Montgomery in the USA, or playing lead and rhythm parts simultaneously. As a composer and as a guitarist, Bonfá played a pivotal role in bridging the incumbent samba-canção style with the innovations of the bossa nova movement.

The following work by Luiz Bonfa is contained in my collection:

Black Orpheus: Manha de Carnaval.

Scott Boerma and Fanfare for a Golden Sky

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Scott Boerma (born 1964) is a composer of contemporary classical music, an arranger of music for marching ensembles, and the Director of Bands at Western Michigan University.   Boerma was born in 1964.  He received his Bachelor of Music degree in music education at Western Michigan University, where he studied composition with Ramon Zupko and his Master of Music degree in music education at the University of Michigan, where he studied composition with Pulitzer-Prize winning composer William Bolcom.  Boerma earned his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in wind conducting at Michigan State University.   He has also studied composition with Anthony Iannaccone at Eastern Michigan University.

Boerma began his career teaching music in the Michigan public schools at Novi and Lamphere High Schools.  Then he was Director of Bands at Eastern Michigan University.  Also he was Associate Director of Bands, Director of the Michigan Marching Band, and the Donald R. Shepherd Associate Professor of Conducting at the University of Michigan before joining the Western Michigan University faculty as the Director of Bands and Professor of Music at Western Michigan, where he conducts the University Symphonic Band and Western Winds.

An active composer, Boerma’s concert band works have been performed by many outstanding ensembles, including “The President’s Own” Marine Band, the Dallas Wind Symphony, the University of North Texas Wind Symphony, the Tokyo Kosei Wind Orchestra, the University of Illinois Wind Symphony, the University of Michigan Symphony and Concert Bands, the Interlochen Arts Camp High School Symphonic Band, and the BOA Honor Band of America, to name just a few. His music has been heard in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Hill Auditorium, the Myerson Symphony Center, the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, and at the Chicago Midwest International Band and Orchestra Clinic. Boerma’s works have been featured in the popular GIA series, “Teaching Music Through Performance in Band.” He is commissioned each year by high school, university and community bands to write new works for the repertoire. Boerma’s work Poem, a tribute to Bernie Kuschel, was recorded on the CD 2007 WASBE Killarney Ireland by the Dublin Concert Band.

Also a prolific arranger, Boerma receives yearly commissions to write music for many university and high school marching bands and drum and bugle corps. From 1989-2006 and from 2014-present, he has been the music arranger for the top-ranking Madison Scouts Drum and Bugle Corps. From 2008-2013, he arranged for the Spirit of Atlanta Drum & Bugle Corps. Additionally, Boerma has arranged for drum and bugle corps and bands from Japan, United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and Thailand. Other credits include marching band arrangements for the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, the University of Texas (both Austin and Arlington), the University of Illinois, Purdue University, Towson University, Texas Tech University, Baylor University, Jacksonville State University, and Western Michigan University, to name just a few. Most of the Big Ten university marching bands have performed Boerma’s arrangements. Boerma also writes arrangements for the Detroit Chamber Winds Brass and the Boston Pops.  Many of Boerma’s works are published by the Neil A. Kjos Music Company, Boosey and Hawkes, Carl Fischer Music, Theodore Presser, Arrangers’ Publishing Company and, Madison Music Works.

Boerma is active as a band/orchestra conductor, adjudicator, and clinician. He serves as a guest conductor for several honor bands and community bands throughout the nation each year, including the Music For All Summer Symposium Concert Band, the Florida State University Tri-State Band, the Michigan Youth Arts Festival State High School Honor Band, the Kappa Kappa Psi/Tau Beta Sigma Intercollegiate Band, the University of Wisconsin Summer Music Clinic Honor Band, and the Michigan All-State Middle School Band, to name just a few. Boerma has given composing, arranging, adjudication, and educational clinics at conferences including the Michigan Music Conference in Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, Michigan, the CBDNA North Central Division Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, and the BOA Summer Symposium in Normal, Illinois. He conducts the Detroit Chamber Winds Brass holiday and summer DSO Concerts, and he served for several years as conductor of one of the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp High School Bands in Twin Lake, Michigan.

Boerma is an elected member of the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. He is the president of the Mid-American Conference Band Directors Association, and he is the Michigan state chair for the College Band Directors National Association, for which he is also a member of its Constitution Task Force. He is also a member of WASBE, NBA, ASBDA, ASCAP, MSBOA, Phi Mu Alpha Professional Music Fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda National Music Honor Society, and an honorary member of Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma Band Fraternities.

My collection includes the following work by Scott Boerma:

Fanfare for a Golden Sky (2000).

I Want to Quit (But I Won’t)

I Want to Quit! (But I Won’t)
by Deborah Wuehler, The Old Schoolhouse Senior Editor

There is probably at least one day a month or more that I want to say, “I Quit!” to something in my life. Whether it be teaching, cleaning, cooking, transporting, marriage issues, or disciplining a child. We all share the same thoughts and feelings. That feeling of wanting to quit probably stems from a lack of peace. Because of the difficult (or tiring or boring) circumstances in our life, we lose our peace, and therefore feel that if we quit, we will find that peace. But, peace won’t magically come in a change of circumstance. You will still be you wrestling with you. However, I have found the way to find peace!

Here is what the living Word of God says: “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD forever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:3, 4).

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Hermann L. Blankenburg and the “Flying Eagle” March


Hermann Ludwig Blankenburg (November 14, 1876–May 15, 1956) was a German composer of military marches. Blankenburg was born on November 14, 1876, at Thamsbrück, in Bad Langensalza, Germany, the only son of three children of Johann Heinrich and Ernestine Friederike Koch Blankenburg. He was born with the middle name Louis but changed it to Ludwig later in life perhaps as a connection to Beethoven. Raised on a sheep farm in Thamsbrücke, he was expected to someday manage the farm. However, he showed a propensity for music starting with performing on the piccolo – a favorite instrument his entire life. His family agreed on his studying music as long as he promised to serve in the army for twelve years.

Blankenburg taught himself to play various instruments including bassoon, tuba, and violin and he conducted his school orchestra at the age of ten. He served actively in the military for two years 1896-1898, performing tuba in the band of the 6th Field Artillery Regiment in Breslau. After that his only service was prior to and during the early years of World War I in reserve bands. He married Magdalena Weidmann in Germersheim in 1898.  A march he wrote when he was eighteen was submitted years later, in 1904, to Hawkes  and Son for a march competition. Hawkes selected his march from over 500 submitted as first prize with the proviso the title could be changed from “Deutschlands Fürsten” (Germany’s Princes) to “The Gladiators’ Farewell” (Abschied der Gladiatoren). The march became popular, and Hawkes (later Boosey and Hawkes) would publish several more including “Adlerflug,” “Festjubel,” “Territorial,” and “Mein Regiment” (the latter said to be the composer’s own favorite march).

In 1913 Blankenburg performed tuba in Field Artillery Regiment No. 43 in Wesel until 1915 when he got a medical discharge. He remained in Wesel for the rest of his life.  He played in and conducted community bands as well as performing in the orchestras in Dortmund, Wuppertal and Duisburg. He also worked as a bricklayer and a policeman for a short time. Blankenburg is likely the most prolific march composer in history. For twenty years he composed at least one march a week. His one thousandth march was composed in 1928: “Der Tausendkünstler” (Jack of All Trades), dedicated to fellow composer Paul Lincke.  In the 1920s and 30s his marches attained European fame. Instead of accepting commissions, he composed marches when inspired.

Blankenburg continued to compose marches for another 20 years after this.  He numbered his march compositions at 1,328, but he was careless in assigning opus numbers or in completing compositions. He also renamed some older marches with new titles. The highest opus number discovered is 1275 (for the march “Semper Paratus” likely published in 1936) and the lowest is 9 (for “Fliegerhelden Marsch”). There are long gaps in the sequence of opus numbers and many marches have no opus number assigned. At least 300 of his marches were published by thirty different publishers, but many more are lost or destroyed. Over 100 of Blankenburg’s marches were recorded in the Heritage of the March series.

After World War II Blankenburg’s compositional efforts dropped off. Despite the presence of military titles for many of his marches and his short military band service, his compositions were never accorded official recognition by Germany’s military authorities.  His marches are all in the characteristic German style and he was fond of writing soaring euphonium countermelodies which required a highly competent euphonium section prepared to perform in the upper register of the instrument. His marches also stressed the piccolo, clarinet, and cornet sections.  At the age of 60, he was made an honorary citizen of Thamsbrück.   A few months before his 81st birthday, Blankenburg intended to compose another march, but he died in Wesel, Germany, on May 15, 1956, before accomplishing this.

The following work by Hermann L. Blankenburg is contained in my collection:

Flying Eagle (1914).

Weymouth School, Medina, OH


Weymouth Preservation Society School

3314 Myers Road

Medina, Ohio

The Weymouth Preservation Society, founded in 2012, is dedicated to preserving the history and enhancing the beauty of our historic Western Reserve village. The society has restored the historic 1925 Weymouth School into a museum with exhibits of local history. It is open the second Sunday of every month from 2-4 or by appointment.  Nestled in the nearly 200-year-old Medina Township neighborhood known as Weymouth, Ohio, it is the first public school in Ohio dedicated to the education of children with disabilities.  That historical milestone in education has been cast in bronze. An Ohio Historical Marker is located in front of the picturesque brick building at Remsen and Myers roads, in the sleepy blocks just off the harried Ohio 3 and Interstate 71 interchange.

The bronze sign reads, “Built with the funds and labor of residents of Weymouth, this structure was home to the Weymouth School from 1925 to 1956. It was designed in the Colonial Revival style by Cleveland architect Paul T. Cahill (1888 – 1954). Two classrooms accommodated students from grades one through eight and an auditorium served both the children and the community.

“In 1953, a school for disabled children was established in St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Medina by their friends and families. It moved into the vacant Weymouth School building in 1956. In 1960, Medina County citizens passed a levy to operate it as the first county-supported school for disabled students in the state. Later known as the Achievement Center, it continued at this site until 1992.”

Ohio legislators didn’t mandate that counties educate disabled children until 1967, seven years after Medina County citizens passed their levy for the school.   And even more history survives in Weymouth all around the brick school building.  Across the narrow street are two one-room schoolhouses built in 1829 and 1840. They have been transformed into homes. Around the corner, at Old Weymouth and Frantz roads, is another private residence that first served as Weymouth School from the 1870s through 1924.  Weymouth also had a one-room schoolhouse built of logs in 1817, but it was lost to decay.

http://www.weymouthpreservationsociety.com .