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Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Richard I. Schwartz

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Well-known Soloists from All Walks of Life

Kitty Rankin

A virtuoso lady cornetist, "Miss Kitty Rankin," as she was known to her peers, studied the cornet with Mace Gay in Brockton, Massachusetts. Being an alderman, her father was very active in the community. Living on a farm on Pearl Street in Brockton, she played in many local groups until she met her husband, Ernest S. Williams.

They both left the United States in 1913 on a successful concert tour of the world. For a year and a half they gave concerts in Europe, Australia, India, and Egypt. On their tour, each played solos and they both played duets together.

In the late 1920’s and early 1930’s, she played with the Gloria Trumpeters, a group featured on the Cadman Radio Hour.

She made some recordings with the Gloria Trumpeters for the Columbia Phonograph Company and was honored in a 1941 issue of the Brockton Enterprise newspaper, along with others, who were significant in the history of Brockton, Massachusetts. Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 48c, 48d, 87).

David Wallace Reeves

(b Oswego, NY 14 Feb 1838; d Providence, RI 8 Mar 1900)

Reeves was playing in the Oswego Band at the age of fourteen. He later heard Dan Rice’s circus band directed by the Eb cornetist, Thomas Canham, and was so enthralled with Canham’s playing that he went with the circus to take lessons with him. Reeves stayed with the circus for three summers. His first instrument was the Eb alto horn and then the cornet. Reeves also played the keyed bugle well after the invention of valves. In 1860, he left his only teacher to tour with the Rumsey & Newcombe Minstrels. While touring with the minstrels he was given a new cornet by the HENRY DISTIN Company. He brought the instrument with him on his return to America in 1862, and played solo cornet with the Dodworth Band and the orchestra at the Lucy Rushton Theater of New York.

After playing a cornet solo in Providence with the Dodworth Band, he accepted the offer to conduct the American Band of Providence, Rhode Island on 7 February 1866, replacing Joseph E. Greene, its bandmaster for almost 25 years. The band was organized as the Providence Brass Band in 1825, and in 1837, changed its name to the American Brass Band. He wrote over 100 marches for the Providence Band, primarily a marching unit, and succeeded to make this group one of the most prestigious performing organizations in the United States. A favorite piece of his was A Music Critic’s Dream by Dix. It was a simple theme with variations and its purpose was to convince the music critic that the quality of a piece lies not in the melodic content, but primarily on how the music is played. Reeves was also a pioneer of using countermelodies in his own marches.

When Gilmore died on 24 September 1892, the likely successor to conduct the band would have been the assistant conductor, Charles W. Freudenvoll, but a committee of band members elected to ask Reeves to take the baton. He left his own Providence Band at the time, playing in Tacoma, Washington, on its own tour. Reeves met Gilmore’s Band at St. Louis Union Station, greeted by a parade headed by the Jefferson Barracks Army Band. He conducted the Gilmore Band later at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, the Pittsburgh Exposition in 1894, and on a short tour in the same year. He then resigned his post with the Gilmore Band in the fall of 1893 and returned to the Providence Band.

After his death, a fountain was dedicated in his memory in 1900 at Roger Williams Park in Providence, Rhode Island. A successful performer, Reeves also taught many students including Bowen Church. As a fine performer, his strength was in renditions of songs. Reeves wrote hundreds of compositions. He wrote operettas, fantasies, polkas quadrilles, idylls, reveries, cornet solos, and over 100 marches. The most famous of his marches are Second Regiment Connecticut National Guard March, The Flag, Guide, and Centennial March. Three popular concert band pieces are Yankee Doodle, Fantasie Humoresque, and Variations on Paganini’s Carnival of Venice (Smith 1991, 347-348). Information for the above appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 68-70), The Music Men: An Illustrated History of Brass Bands in America, 1800-1920 (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 9, 39, 113, 126), March Music Notes (Smith 1991, 345-8), and The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music (Rehrig 1991, 619)

William Rimmer

(b Southport, England 1862; d 1936)

He and Robert (1863-1934), his brother, studied music with their father, Thomas, the Bandmaster of the Southport Rifles Band. At fifteen years of age, William played drums with the band and by the time he was twenty-one, he was solo cornet with the group under Henry Round’s baton playing at the Belle Vue September Band Contest in 1882. In 1888, William played solo cornet with the Third Volunteers Liverpool Regiment Band, with his father conducting. On 14 July 1888, the band competed in the Belle Vue contest. He was solo cornet for the Besses o’ th’ Barn Band in the same year, but soon left due to bronchitis. At this point he made a decision to spend his time primarily with conducting. He was associated as conductor with many bands including the Rochdale Public Band, Wingates Temperance Band, Southport Artillery Volunteers Band, Irwell Springs Band, Black Dyke Mills Band, Harrowgate Municipal Band, Hebden Bridge Band, Fodens Motor Works Band, and Besses o’ th’ Barn Band. Irwell Springs won two major national contests (a double-double) in 1905 and his fortuitous relationship with Wingates won the band a total of over 600 prizes!

The years of 1906 and 1907 still stand out even today as the time that Wingates won the "Double-Double", coming in first place both the Belle Vue and Crystal Palace Contests, respectively. In 1901, the Irwell Springs Band won the Belle Vue July Contest. It came in fourth place at the Belle Vue September Contest in 1901 and second place at Crystal Palace that same year. In 1908 and 1913, the Irwell Springs Band again won first place at Crystal Palace, and in 1909, Fodens Band won first place at the Belle Vue September Contest and second place at Crystal Palace.

Between the years of 1905 and 1909, he was responsible for a total of ten championships for five different bands: three for Irwell Springs Band, four for Wingates Temperance Band, and one each for Fodens Motor Works Band, Shaw Band, and the Black Dyke Mills Band.

After this heavy schedule of contests ended in 1909, his career was devoted primarily to arranging, composing, and conducting the Southport Orchestral Society and the Southport Municipal Military Band. In 1913, the band recorded for Columbia Records. He taught privately and was editor of music for F. Richardson, R. Smith, and Wright & Round. He had many pen names, including Heather Dean, F. Leduc, Kenneth Henschel, Carl Hessler, and Michael Laurent. His output of compositions includes over 117 marches, thirty-seven operatic arrangements, seventy-seven concert pieces (air varié, entr’actes, duets, etc.), ten transcriptions of overtures, thirty solos, and twenty-eight dance pieces (mostly waltzes). His marches include Old Comrades (1895) [not to be confused with Teike’s Alte Kameraden (1891)], The Australasian (1906 or earlier), The Cossack (1904), The North Star (1901), and Punchinello (1904). Information for this entry appears in Brass Roots: A Hundred Years of Brass Bands and Their Music, 1836-1936 (Newsome 1998, 123-126, 158, 147-148). March Music Notes (Smith 1986, 351-3), and The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music (Rehrig 1991

Walter Bowman Rogers

(b Delphi, IN 14 Oct 1865; d Brooklyn, NY 24 Dec 1939)

Walter Rogers studied music at an early age from his father who taught him violin and cornet. After receiving training from Captain John Lathrope, he attended the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music at the age of seventeen. In 1883, he performed cornet solos with the Indianapolis Municipal Band and between 1883 and 1884 he performed cornet solos with Captain John Lathrope’s Cornet Band and conducted the town band of Goshen, Indiana. He also played the cornet in Biessenhertz’ English Opera House Orchestra in Indianapolis. Both he and young Clarke (seventeen years old at the time) played together in the orchestra and in a brass quartet (The Schubert Brass Quartet) for Clarke’s church. In 1885, Cappa had heard a Rogers’ solo cornet performance at the Opera House and offered him a job with his Seventh Regiment Band of New York. Cappa gave him the responsibility of his personal assistant, handling publicity and promotion. After Cappa died, Rogers took over leadership of the band between the years of 1894 and 1897. In 1898, Rogers was asked by Sousa to fill in for Clarke as first chair and solo cornet, which he did for one year. In 1900 Rogers returned to Sousa’s Band as assistant conductor and cornet soloist, sharing solos with Clarke on the 1900 European Tour. Upon Clarke’s departure from Sousa’s Band in 1902, Rogers became first chair cornet.

He remained with Sousa until after the band played at the St. Louis World’s Fair of 1904. In September 1904, Rogers became Music Director of the Victor Phonograph Company in Camden, New Jersey. He conducted the orchestra at Victor and quickly remade many of his earlier recordings with the company. He performed duets with Arthur Pryor, including the famous "Miserere" duet from Il trovatore (Schwartz 1957, 240). In 1916, he became Recording Manager of the Paroquette Record Company. The company stayed in business only for one year, after which he worked for the Paramount Record Company in 1919, and shortly afterward with the Emerson Phonograph Company as Musical Director. He also made band recordings for the Brunswick Phonograph Company between the years of 1922 and 1929. He retired from extensive playing in 1929 only to teach the cornet and perform with the Anglo Canadian Leather Company Band in Huntsville, Ontario, conducted by Herbert Clarke. Rogers taught and performed occasionally in New York until 1932, when he was sixty-seven years old. Rogers was a prolific composer and arranger for cornet. According to Clarke, Rogers was "the most affable chap I ever met in my whole musical career [heretofore]" and "my ideal cornet player, whose ease in playing I was striving to imitate" (Clarke 1973, 31). Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 70-74) and The Psychology of Cornet and Trumpet Playing (Noble 1964, 24-25) and The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music (Rehrig 1991, 639), How I became a Cornetist (Clarke 1973, 31), and Bands of America (Schwartz 1957, 240).

Thomas H. Rollinson

(b Ware, MA 4 Jan 1844; d Waltham, MA 23 June 1928)

His family emigrated to America from England in the 1830’s, and when Thomas was 18, he studied music at the Providence Conference Seminary in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. His family moved to Willimantic, Connecticut in 1853. Studying the cornet, he played in the Willimantic Brass Band of Willimantic, Connecticut. Immediately after graduating from the Providence Conservatory of Music in 1865, he pursued a career in arranging and composition. His first band composition was in 1868, and in 1872, he organized and conducted his own Willimantic Brass Band for ten years. He was a band teacher and performer on the organ and cornet. In 1882, he played solo cornet with the Boston Cadet Band under the baton of Thomas Baldwin and conducted the Waltham Watch Company Band between 1883 and 1892. The group served as the band for the First Cavalry Regiment of Massachusetts, playing for many of its functions including parades, with Rollinson conducting and playing his cornet from his horse.

He worked for the Oliver Ditson Company, beginning in 1887, as arranger and salesman of band and orchestra music, and worked for the company until his death.

With a total of 1200 arrangements of 478 original pieces and 300 arrangements of other composers, he was an incredibly prolific writer. He composed quadrilles, polkas, waltzes, schottisches, airs, overtures, romances, fantasias, polonaises, and mazurkas for band. He wrote practically for every instrument, including editing or writing tutors for them, as well. He wrote articles for journals and his music was published by E. A. Samuels, W. H. Cundy, Carl Fischer, J. W. Pepper, and Oliver Ditson. Among his compositions were three marches dedicated to the First Cavalry Regiment of Massachusetts and the march, Honor the Brave (1886) dedicated to the G. A. R. (Grand Army of the Republic). Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 74), March Music Notes (Smith 1991, 355), and The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music (Rehrig 1991 640-641).

David Cobb Rosebrook

(b Portland, MN 19 Jan 1874; d Oakland 31 Mar 1937)

He began his career playing cornet in New York and Boston, after which he left for San Francisco in 1899. David was solo cornet with Henry Ohlmeyer’s Band in the summer of 1910. Herbert Clarke had played with this band as special cornet soloist during David’s tenure with the group. Between the years of 1916 and 1925, he played solo cornet with the Golden Gate Band and played as special cornet soloist with the Oakland Municipal Band in the 1920’s.

Between the years of 1919 and 1925, he conducted the Islam Shrine Band in San Francisco. During the 1920’s he played first trumpet [on cornet?] with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. David also was a competent violinist, directing the orchestra at the Court Theater in San Francisco. He taught brasswinds at the Sherman Clay and Company Music Store. He wrote and arranged many pieces for the cornet in the 1920’s as well. He was the "Celebrated Cornet Soloist of San Francisco," who (playing on a gold "New York Model CONN Wonder Cornet") had a self proclaimed range of four octaves from the "G Pedal up to the altissimo F" (C. G. Conn n.d., 11).

In 1935, he played solo cornet with the Goldman Band replacing Charles Delaware Staigers. Rosebrook left the organization after only five weeks, as a result of illness. Del Staigers was a phenomenal cornetist, as well, but is not included in this biographical section because, being born in 1899, his career spans the twentieth century. Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 75-76) and Supplement to C. G. Conn’s Truth (C. G. Conn n.d., 11).

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