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History of the Symphonic Band

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M.U. Band History (continued)

     Colonel Vesey Walker, Director from 1933 to 1935 and later Director of Music at Disneyland, stated in September 1933, "Marquette will see a different kind of band this year."  Active campaigning resulted in a band of 70 who played at all home football and basketball games; women were admitted for the first time as members of the Concert Band and Orchestra but were not allowed to march; an annual concert, open to the public, was presented for the first time at M.U. High School Auditorium in May of 1934; and a musical tour through some of the city's high schools was offered.  In 1935, Col. Walker dressed his band in blue coats, gold trousers, gold hats and black leather puttees; he combined his band with the Engineering Drum and Bugle Corps for added size and color in parades. 

     In 1935, with Russell Eddy as Director, the Band has an enrollment of 60 members.  This band was one of the first in Wisconsin to clinic and perform at area high schools.  In 1937, the Band played the halftime show for the Cotton Bowl football game between Marquette and Texas Christian University.  In 1938, for the first time, Band could be used by M.U. students to satisfy the Physical Education requirement.  In 1939, this band broadcast over NBC near Fond du Lac.   Following the resignation of Mr. Eddy, Mr. Louis LeMieux served as band director during the spring of 1939.  John Leicht Jr., a student, became the next director and continued until early in 1942 when he enlisted in the army.  William Geisheker, a member of the band and a candidate for a Masters Degree in Sociology and History, was prevailed upon to take over the band rehearsals since he was a qualified and experienced band director.  When an anticipated opening in the University Sociology Department did not materialize, Geisheker was hired as Director of musical Organizations.  Later, he taught History at M.U. and also at M.U. High for several years along with Band and Chorus.

     The first big task in the fall of 1942 was to recruit a band for football games.  Beginning with 24 members, Mr. "G" managed to assemble a band of 60 to perform at the Marquette - Wisconsin game.  The Band grew steadily reaching 90 for the Christmas Concert.  However, by springtime the band had suffered a severe setback; in a single day the Engineering Reserve Corps (ERC) was called into service claiming 55 band members.  Other band members were drafted or enlisted for service in World War II dropping the final count to 19.  

     A recurring major obstacle to the band's growth was lack of funds; the Band had no budget.  In that first year, Geisheker started the Varsity Varieties, an all-school talent show, to raise funds to support his musical organizations.  The show was run by music students and was an immediate success.  In fact, there was so much music and such a long show that the second year saw the birth of Musical Varieties as a separate show.  These shows provided enough revenue to purchase instruments, uniforms and music.  The Variety shows were extremely  popular on campus and were produced annually for over 30 years.  In 1956, acting on the advice of Fr. Raymond McAuley, S.J., Dean of Students, the University took over the Varieties retaining Mr. Geisheker as Moderator and the Band and Chorus were provided with annual budgets.  

     sIn 1943-44 as service groups appeared on campus, there was an Army ASTP Band, a Navy Band made up of members from the V12 and V5 units and a Civilian Band.  These groups were small but combined were able to provide pep at football games, band rallies, and basketball games.  In 1944, as the was reduced these groups, Geisheker found it necessary to organize a Coed Band.  This all-girl's band performed at basketball games for one year and was then absorbed into the regular civilian band.  Following the war, the first completely civilian Marquette Band in four years appeared at a football game in October 1946 wearing new navy blue, gold-trimmed  uniforms tailored in military style - sturdy uniforms which were destined to serve the Band for the next 20 years.  1947 saw the emergence of a new era in Marquette Band history.  Through the efforts of Mr. Charles Cobeen - Treasurer, Fr. Edward A McGrath, S.J. - Band Moderator, and Director Bill Geisheker, assisted for two years by drill master, Howard Raether, developed an outstand marching band.  For the next 14 years the Band, numbering from 75 to 90, played at all home football games and accompanied the team on trips.  They performed original half-time shows at many Big Ten games until 1960 when football at Marquette University was disbanded.

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