Gordon Langford and “Famous British Marches”


Gordon Maris Colman Langford (May 11, 1930 –April 18, 2017) was an English composer, arranger, and performer, who is well known for his brass band compositions and arrangements and also for his choral and orchestral music, winning an Ivor Novello award for best light music composition for his March from the Colour Suite in 1971. Langford was born in Edgware, Middlesex, England, on May 11, 1930, as Gordon Maris Colman. His father was a precision toolmaker. He was a precocious child, beginning piano lessons aged five. At nine, one of his compositions received a public performance. He attended Bedford Modern School and he went on to win a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where he studied piano and composition with Norman Demuth. It was Demuth who suggested that he should change his surname or use a pseudonym. Hence, he changed his name to become Gordon Colman Langford.

     In 1951, during his army service with the Royal Artillery Band, he made his first BBC broadcast as a solo pianist. After leaving the army, he worked with seaside orchestras, a touring opera company and as a ship’s musician, but it was during the 1960s he came to prominence as a pianist, arranger and composer on BBC programmes such as Music in the Air, Melody around the World and Ronnie Barker’s Lines From My Grandfather’s Forehead. In later life he lived in East Devon, mainly composing but occasionally appearing in recordings, concerts and broadcasts.  Langford’s career had a notable relationship with the BBC. Some of his compositions and arrangements were used as Test Card music in the 1960s and ’70s, with such titles as Hebridean Hoedown, The Lark in the Clear Air and Royal Daffodil being remembered by Test Card aficionados. He also wrote and arranged music for Friday Night is Music Night, as well as numerous other BBC programs.

Langford produced many choral arrangements for the King’s Singers in the 1970s.  He was also known for his theatre compositions, such as The Crooked Mile and The House of Cards. Langford was often used by Hollywood as a score orchestrator, with Return of the Jedi, Superman II, The First Great Train Robbery, Clash of the Titans, and Return to Oz to his name.  Langford won an Ivor Novello Award for best light music composition for his March from the Colour Suite in 1971 and went on to make a huge impression on the banding movement in the early 1970s with a series of expertly written original works and arrangements of huge scope and versatility.  He is perhaps best known as a brass band composer and arranger, with a string of CDs to his name.  In particular, the test pieces Facets of Glass and Rhapsody for trombone are well known. He also arranged the works of other composers, such as Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams.  In 1974 he released a demo album entitled The Amazing Music of the Electronic ARP Synthesizer. This contained several compositions of his own, plus cover versions, played entirely on the then new innovation, the ARP synth, of pieces as diverse as “Yellow Submarine,” “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “Cocktails for Two,” “Light Cavalry Overture,” and Mozart’s Symphony No. 40.

Langford’s popular ‘Sinfonietta for Brass Band’ (1975) was subsequently used as the theme tune to the BBC television series ‘Best of Brass,’ and the ‘Trombone Concerto’ was written for the great Don Lusher in 1976.    His output of influential concert works from ‘All through the Night’ to ‘West Country Fantasy’ was immense — each crafted with care, detail and an appreciation of the timbre and color palette of the brass band medium.  Due to his prolific concert repertoire output, his major original compositions and arrangement commissions were somewhat underrated — such as his youth band work ‘Metropolis’ written in 1978, to the later ‘Facets of Glass’, ‘Harmonius Variations,’ ‘Three Haworth Impressions,’ and above all his ‘Sinfonietta’, with its beautiful, softly pulsating middle movement.

Langford also adjudicated at a number of major brass band events — including Pontins and Spring Festival Grand Shield as well as the 1985 British Open Championship.  A CD of his original compositions for orchestra performed by the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Rumon Gamba was released in 2003.  Later compositions include his Berceuse and Burlesque for bassoon and orchestra, performed on February 1, 2008 at Axminster.  In 2011 he was nominated for a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music (FRAM) by the Governing Body of the Academy. He died on April 18, 2017, at the age of 86.

My CD collection includes the following work by Gordon Langford:

Famous British Marches

Talkeetna Historical Society Museum School, Talkeetna, AK



Talkeetna Historical Society Museum School

Talkeetna Spur and D St.

Talkeetna, AK

The Talkeetna Historical Society’s museum, located in downtown Talkeetna, in the original Territory of Alaska Talkeetna School building, opened in the 1936-37 school year. Talkeetna is an unincorporated village located about 2.5 hour drive from Anchorage. There is no local government, other than an advisory community council. The village has many non profits that help things run…a chamber of commerce, an arts council (play theatre, movies and children’s theatre), ski club, hockey club, airman’s association, local radio station, etc, as well as the Museum/Historical Society.  Volunteers run events and happenings in town.  The museum, for lack of tourist center, also acts as an information hub for the village. The Talkeetna Historical Society (THS) was founded in 1972 by residents concerned with protecting Talkeetna’s historical sites and incorporated with the State of Alaska in 1985, becoming a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization in 1989 to safeguard the uniqueness of this rural Alaskan community. The old Talkeetna School has been home-base to the society since 1974 and serves as the first of three on-site museum buildings, housing a general collection of photographs, artifacts, and exhibits that celebrate Talkeetna’s rich Alaskan history.

The Talkeetna Historical Society Museum is dedicated to preserving Talkeetna’s rural village by preserving Talkeetna’s past in its historical buildings and sites.  The museum exhibits introduce visitors to a very personal history–native peoples, aviators, gold seekers, trappers–many ordinary people who made a name for themselves and are now an important part of Talkeetna’s past.  The museum’s other buildings– both of which are historic railroad buildings, circa 1920s, that were relocated here to the Talkeetna School downtown–offer more historic photos and exhibition pieces from the old days. One of the Museum buildings holds the Mountain Exhibit, showing Denali (Mt. McKinley) and its surrounding peaks of the Alaska Range as a room-size model. The model is owned by the National Park Service and the museum houses it.  Mountaineering talks are given daily during the summer months. The other houses a transportation exhibit.  The society owns a total of six historic buildings within Talkeetna’s nationally recognized historic district which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places April 26, 1993.

Edward H. Boatner and “When the Saints Go Marching In”


Edward Hammond Boatner (November 13, 1898- June 16, 1981) was a well known African American musician and composer who wrote many popular concert arrangements of Negro spirituals..  Boatner was born in New Orleans, LA, on November 13, 1898. His father, Dr. Daniel Webster Boatner, was a former slave who became an itinerant minister. Edward was exposed at an early age to the music sung by African Americans in the churches where his father preached. Particularly fascinated by the spirituals of the former slaves, he began collecting them.  Though he was educated in the public schools of St. Louis, MO, and Kansas City, KS, most of his early musical education came from self-training. He applied for admission to the University of Missouri, but the young man’s race proved to be an obstacle despite his acknowledged talent, so he entered Western University, Quindaro, KS, in 1916, where he studied voice and piano. Despite the strenuous objections of his father, who wanted Edward to become a minister, he gave recitals in the community. At one of these programs, he was heard by tenor Roland Hayes, who later performed many of Boatner’s works on his concert programs.  Hayes encouraged Boatner to move to Boston and continue his studies there. Boatner’s father would not support the venture, so the young man had to work for two years to earn what little he could and make the journey on his own. Hayes helped him make contacts in the city, and Boatner was able to support himself by giving piano lessons. In 1918, Boatner recorded three of Harry T. Burleigh’s spiritual settings, including “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child,” for Broome Special Phonograph Records, a small African American-owned label based in Medford, MS. He continued his studies with faculty at the New England Conservatory, and he published the first of his spirituals setting, “Give Me Jesus,” in 1920.

The following year, Boatner received a one-year scholarship to attend the Boston Conservatory of Music, studying German, French and Italian vocal literature. He performed in concert at Hampton University, where he garnered the attention of choral director R. Nathaniel Dett, who invited Boatner to tour with him across New England.  Dett became a mentor to the younger man. Boatner relocated to Chicago in 1925. He received his Bachelor’s degree from the Chicago College of Music (now the College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University) seven years later. During this time, he served as a church choir director, continued to concertize, and also sang leading roles with the National Negro Opera Company.  In addition, he became director of music for the National Baptist Convention from 1925 to 1931 and published his Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New in Nashville, TN with Willa A. Townsend in 1927. The modern arrangement of the spiritual “When the Saints Go Marching In” is attributed to Boatner who included it in his Spirituals Triumphant, Old and New.  Most authorities conclude that “When the Saints Go Marching In,” often referred to as “The Saints,” is an American gospel hymn that has taken on certain aspects of folk music.  Though it appears to have originated as an African-American spiritual, today people are more likely to hear it played by a jazz band.  Researchers believe that it had its origins in the Bahamas, but somehow migrated to the mainland.  A traditional use of the song is as a funeral march. In the funeral music tradition of New Orleans, LA, often called the “jazz funeral,” a band would play the tune as a dirge while accompanying the coffin to the cemetery. On the way back from the interment, it would switch to the familiar upbeat “hot” or “Dixieland” style.  Around the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth century, the tune began to be played by many New Orleans jazz bands in concert.  While the tune is still heard as a slow spiritual number on rare occasions, from the mid-twentieth century it has been more commonly performed as a “hot” number.  It remains particularly associated with the city of New Orleans, to the extent that New Orleans’ professional football team was named the New Orleans Saints.

The song is apocalyptic, taking much of its imagery from the Book of Revelation, but excluding its more horrific depictions of the Last Judgment. The stanza/choruses about the sun and moon refer to Biblical passages in which the heavenly bodies cease to shine at the end of the world; the trumpet (of the Archangel Gabriel) is the way in which the final judgment is announced. The fact that the hymn expresses the wish to go to Heaven, picturing the saints going in (through the Pearly Gates), is probably why it was deemed appropriate for funerals.   As with many numbers with long traditional folk use, there is no one “official” version of the song or its lyrics. This extends so far as confusion as to its name, with it often being mistakenly called “When the Saints Come Marching In”. As for the lyrics themselves, their very simplicity makes it easy to generate new verses. Since the first, second, and fourth lines of a verse are exactly the same, and the third standard throughout, the creation of one suitable line in iambic tetrameter generates an entire verse.  Sometimes, the song is attributed to Katharine E. Purvis for lyrics and James Milton Black for music.  In 1896 they did produce a similarly titled composition “When the Saints Are Marching In” that was possibly influenced by the traditional spiritual but is markedly different from it.   Both vocal and instrumental renditions of the folk song abound. Louis Armstrong was one of the first to make the tune into a nationally known pop-tune in the 1930s.  The tune was brought into the early rock and roll repertory by Fats Domino and (as “The Saint’s Rock and Roll”) by Bill Haley and the Comets.  A true jazz standard, it has been recorded by a great many other jazz and pop artists.  Nicknamed “The Monster” by some jazz musicians, because it seems to be the only tune some people know to request when seeing a Dixieland band, it is often requested several times a night. The musicians at Preservation Hall in New Orleans got so tired of playing it that the sign announcing the fee schedule ran $1 for standard requests, $2 for unusual requests, and $5 for “The Saints.”  (This was in early 1960s dollars. By 2004 the price had gone up to $10.)  In the Southern gospel genre the song is often associated with Luther G. Presley and Virgil Oliver Stamps, whose version, with new words written by Presley and music arranged by Stamps, copyrighted by the Stamps-Baxter Music Company in their 1937 book Starlit Crown, popularized it as a gospel song.   A similar version was made by Robert E. Winsett.  Elvis Presley performed the song during the Million Dollar Quartet jam session and also recorded a version for his film, Frankie and Johnny.  It can be found as a gospel hymn by Elvis Presley in his compilation “Peace in the Valley: The Complete Gospel Recordings.”   Judy Garland sang it in her own pop style.  Other early rock artists to follow Domino’s lead included Jerry Lee Lewis and Tony Sheridan (featuring then-unknown band The Beatles as a backing group).  It makes a current resurgence on the Bruce Springsteen with The Seeger Sessions Band Tour, as an encore for some shows.  Dolly Parton has also included the song in a gospel medley.

In the early 1930s, Boatner joined the faculty of two Texas historically Black colleges, Samuel Houston in Austin (now Huston-Tillotson University), and Wiley College in Marshall, where he was appointed their Dean of Music. He returned to New York in the latter half of the decade where he opened his own vocal studio and conducted community and church choirs. This allowed him to concentrate more on composing. Over his teaching career, Boatner’s students included opera singer George Shirley, entertainers Josephine Baker and Robert Guillaume, Blues songstress Libby Holman, and actor Clifton Webb.  He was a prolific writer of textbooks on music theory and pedagogy, non-fiction–especially on racial issues, short stories, and a novel, One Drop of Blood.  Boatner continued to publish settings of Negro spirituals for choir and vocal soloist. Of approximately 300 works credited to him, some of the best-known are “I Shall Not Be Moved” beginning “Glory hallelujah, I shall not be moved,” “On Ma Journey” (1928), “Trampin'” (1931), “O What a Beautiful City” (1940), and “City Called Heaven” (1952). A number of these settings were published by his own company, Hammond Music. He published 30 Afro-American Choral Spirituals, a collection for mixed chorus in 1971 and The Story of the Spirituals: 30 Spirituals and Their Origins for voice and piano in 1973.  Also Boatner composed an unpublished opera, Troubled in Mind, musicals The Origin of the Spirituals and The Life of Jesus–a work composed of spirituals, text, and dance that was later renamed The Man from Nazareth, and a musical comedy, Julius Sees Her in Rome, Georgia. The Arlington Symphony premiered his Freedom Suite in 1967. He spent over three years researching and composing this work for orchestra, solo voices, mixed chorus and narrator.  Of his four children, the eldest, Edward Boatner, Jr., grew up to develop his own musical career as jazz saxophonist Sonny Stitt.  Clifford became a classical pianist, and Adelaide a classically trained contralto. His fourth child, Sarah, was also musically talented.  Continuing to teach into his eighties. Edward Boatner died on June 16, 1981, in New York City, NY.

The following work by Edward H. Boatner is contained in my CD collection:

When the Saints Go Marching In

When Mom Gets Senioritis

When Mom Gets Senioritis
by Suzanne Broadhurst

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the Sep/Oct 2012 issue of Home School Enrichment Magazine. Learn more at http://www.HomeSchoolEnrichment.com

I thought maybe once I’d had it as an adult, I would be immune to the second exposure. But nope. I’ve got it again: senioritis. This round should be my last—this daughter is my last senior. I know, I know: she should be the one developing the itis, but she isn’t. Yet. Thank God. However, I’ve got a good solid case of it and it’s spreading through my soul like wildfire.

My daughter, the senior, is doing great: buckling down, chin up, heart melted before her True Love. It’s I who struggle. It’s struggle, I who do. Who, me? Struggle? Yes, both with grammar and with senioritis.

The adult strain of the condition is only a wee bit different from the high school variety. The hair color may have (ahem, may have?) changed, but the feelings are familiar. Once again, I am experiencing the vivacious thrill of the future along with the proverbially sluggish “Do we hafta finish?” On the one hand I’m ramping it up, and on the other hand I’m dragging my feet. No wonder I’m finding it difficult to walk out my planning calendar. I’ve got my foot in my hand! (Raising teens, I do find that’s better than in my mouth.)

Read more:


Reed School, Neillsville, WI



Reed School

U.S. Hwy. 10 & Cardinal Ave.

Neillsville, WI 54456

Reed School Historic Site is a one room school museum owned and operated by the Wisconsin Historical Society. The school is located on the corner of U.S. Route 10 and Cardinal Avenue near Neillsville, Wisconsin. Constructed in 1915, the schoolhouse operated as a school until 1951 when it closed due to a lack of students. It provided a first- through eighth-grade education with only one teacher. Before 1960 most rural Wisconsin kids were educated in a one-room school like Reed School. One-room education reflects a less mobile, more rural time in our history. The wide diversity of ages provided opportunities for older students to help their younger peers, which is an attribute that today’s schools find desirable, but difficult to achieve.  Between 1915 and 1951, hundreds of Pleasant Ridge students received their education from outstanding teachers at Reed School.  Reed School is a prime example of the estimated 6,000 one room schools that once operated across Wisconsin.   School consolidation following World War II all but eliminated these country schools from the state’s educational landscape.

One notably large class attended Reed School in the spring of 1939. Miss Norma Schmoll was in her second year of teaching when Reed School climbed to 33 students. Reed School had well over 30 students at several points throughout its history. Miss Schmoll continued teaching at the school for three more years. Only one other Reed School teacher taught longer.  School was suspended after the 1950-51 school year when the number of students dropped to 10.  Reed School students were transferred to schools nearby.  Despite considerable opposition from the community, the Reed School officially closed in 1954.  The building was restored by former student Gordon Smith and opened as Wisconsin’s 10th State Historic Site in 2007. Gordon Smith’s memories of attending first grade at Reed School in 1939 were the catalyst leading to its restoration and reopening. The classroom has been restored to its 1939 appearance and is used for school programs. The basement contains an exhibit on the history of rural education in Wisconsin.

Boschertown School, St. Charles, MO



Boschertown School

Boschertown Road at Hwy. B

St. Charles, MO 63301

Boschertown School was located on Boschertown Rd. where came in to Hwy. B near the intersection with Hwy. 94 north of St. Charles, MO.  The picture is from 1957.  It closed as a school around 1960 about when the Orchard Farm central campus opened just down the road at 3489 Boschertown Rd, St Charles, MO 63301.  The latter is now the Orchard Farm School District Office.   Boschertown School was torn down years ago, around 1964, and an electrical sub-station was built on the site.  Present day Orchard Farm schools are nearby on Hwy V, with the Elementary School at 2135 Hwy. V, the middle Middle School at 2195 Hwy. V, and the High School at 2175 Hwy. V

Dells Mill School Museum, Augusta, WI



Dells Mill School, Museum, and Historic Properties

East 18855 County Road V

Augusta, WI 54722

The Augusta, Wisconsin, Dells Mill School is a rural one room Wisconsin school in Wisconsin. The Dells School Museum is just 10 miles from Interstate I-94 in Osseo, Wisconsin, 20 miles from Interstate I-94 in Eau Claire Wisconsin, and 40 miles from Black River Falls.   The Dells School, with a small coat room at the entrance, thrived during its hay day years from the 1870’s to the 1960’s.  Officially known as District No. 6,   it now has separate dates on each end of the building.  The original date is 1866, while the opposite end says 1873. The school was used as an elementary school for grades 1 through 8.  Class sizes ranged from 0 to 6 students.  One class level was instructed at a time, usually at the front of the one room while the other students studied or used the library—or listened or giggled at the class being taught, passed notes or made other mischief.  The school housed, at its overcrowded most, up to 36 students.  The library was at the back of the room, with bookcases about 6 feet high, about half of the width of the building.  Most students walked or road bikes to school each day.  Significant school year events included softball and other sport competitions with nearby grade schools such as Rodell, Wisconsin, or Troubled Waters schools. Some competing schools hardly had enough students to populate a softball team

The Dells School originally was located on the west side of the Dells Pond, less than a half mile away from its current location.  The Augusta Wisconsin Dells District consolidated with the Kirkham Valley School in about 1960, because of growing population and minimum educational requirements.  Grades 1 through 4 were bused to the Dells Mill School and grades 5 through 8 were sent to Kirkham Valley   In about 1965 the local school districts consolidated into what is now Augusta Area Schools, and the building was retired as a school.  The Dells Mill School building was purchased by a local business man in the 1970’s. It was moved to the east side of the Dells Pond and used as a tool building.  It was later resold and became part of the Augusta Wisconsin Dells Mill Historic Properties. The Wisconsin Dells Mill School Museum in Augusta, Wisconsin, is open May Through October.