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Copyright © 2000, 2001 by Richard I. Schwartz

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Well-known Soloists from All Walks of Life

John Lathrope

(b Cornwall, England 27 Oct 1841; d Delphi, IN 1918)

After arriving from England to America in 1851, he played the trombone in Boston. His father was a wool comber in England and came to America in 1840. John first lived with his father’s family in West Lafayette, Indiana, where both he and his father worked on the railroad. The family then moved to Delphi, Indiana, and with the exception of five years spent in Warsaw, Indiana, he stayed the rest of his life in Delphi.

He served in the Civil War beginning in 1861 and played bugle for the Ninth Volunteer Regimental Band. For many years after the war, he conducted bands, and played and taught the cornet. He was active as soloist and conductor of Johnny Lathrope’s Concert Band based in Delphi for many years. He and his wife, Caroline, had eight children, one of whom (Emma) became a musician and organist, playing the organ at the Delphi Presbyterian Church.

At the age of seventy, he was presented with a watch by the businessmen of Delphi for his contributions to the community. He could have traveled with many bands, but chose to stay and give to his own community. He was the president of the Tri-State (Ohio, Indiana, Michigan) Musicians Association, honorary member of the American Federation of Musicians, member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and member of the Indianapolis Consistory of the Scottish Rite.

One of his most famous students was Walter B. Rogers of Delphi, Indiana . Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 70-71).

Jules Levy

(b London, England 24 Apr 1838; d Chicago 28 Nov 1903)

Here is another personality about whom could be written an entire book. Levy wished to play the cornet as young as five years old, but his father could not afford an instrument. At the age of twelve, Jules began practicing on a mouthpiece and finally purchased a cornet for fifteen shillings from a pawnshop at the age of seventeen. In 1856, he was performing with the Grenadier Guard Band, and in 1860, he was performing solos, for thirty shillings a week, between acts at the Princess Theatre in London. His favorite piece was the Whirlwind Polka, a piece written and performed by Levy specifically for the occasion. In 1861, Levy was performing with the Royal Opera House Orchestra for £5 per week. He was performing at the Crystal Palace and Floral Hall, as well. Between 1864 and 1876, Levy made concert tours all over Europe, giving concerts in America in 1866. In the summer of 1869, Levy returned to the United States and was featured with the Theodore Thomas Orchestra in New York City. Solos included a cavatina from Rossini’s Una Voce, a canzonetta from Meyerbeer’s Dinora, a romanza by Hugo-Pierson called Elle m’aimait tant, the Carnival of Venice, the Seventh Air by Hartmann, the Levyathon Polka (also known as Levy Athens Polka), and his favorite Whirlwind Polka. In 1871, he joined the Ninth Regiment Band. It is known that during this time period, Levy earned an incredible sum of $10,000 a year. After hearing a performance of Levy with the Ninth Regiment Band, the Grand Duke Alexis invited Levy to spend some time in Russia at his court. He took up the offer and stayed in Russia for twenty months. He was asked by the Czarevich to be the Chief Bandmaster of the Czar’s Russian Army and Imperial Cornetist (Bridges [1972], 58-59). He turned the offer down to return first to England to play at the London Promenade Concerts, and later to play at the Hippodrome in New York. The large salary offered at both venues was apparently a great incentive for Levy.

In 1876, Levy joined Henry Gilmore’s Band and played daily at the Centennial Exposition held in Philadelphia. He also played a special arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner and Hail, Columbia as an encore for the opening of the Brooklyn Bridge on 24 May 1883. Even after he was removed from the stage, Levy, the ultimate showman, played Yankee Doodle off stage (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 4). Billed as the "World’s Greatest Cornet Player" by Gilmore, Levy was an extremely talented and virtuoso player, but had a rather inflated opinion about himself. James F. Boyer was drinking one day with Levy at Levy’s house in Elkhart, Indiana and asked him if he ever would consider running for President of the United States. Levy reportedly responded, "After four years I’d be kicked out of office. As it is, I am Jules Levy, the World’s Greatest Cornet Player, all the time" (Schwartz 1957, 112). Another story relates that when Fiske’s Band was in Boston, Arbuckle said, "Well, the two kings are in town today" to which Levy responded, "There is only one King, and that is I" (Bridges [1972], 3). This attitude continued to alienate his colleagues and shortly after the friction between Levy and Arbuckle reached a peak, Levy resigned from Gilmore’s Band. It appears, however, that Gilmore was equally responsible for the antagonism between the men. He pitted them against each other in performance duels and billed both men as great cornet players. It was a great publicity ploy, but caused both men unnecessary grief.

Levy was probably the first cornetist to work for Edison making test recordings as early as 1878, briefly leaving the Gilmore Band to do so. He also made at least fifteen recordings for Columbia , and twenty-three for Victor. Unfortunately, they were made in the 1890’s and did not truly reflect his virtuosic playing that was in his prime. Levy was such an incredible cornetist in his prime that he was given a diamond studded cornet built by the C. G. CONN company in 1883, the same year he began to endorse their instruments (Banks 1994, 20).

Levy founded the Levy American Military Band in 1892, a band which broke up in 1895. Levy performed as a soloist at a "Grand Negro Jubilee" in Madison Square Garden between 26 April 1892 and 29 April 1892. Another soloist for this concert was Madame Matilda Sissieretta Jones (1869-1933), the "Black Patti." The concert was such a success that it was repeated on 30 April 1892 at the Academy of Music (Eileen Southern, "Jones, M. Sissieretta ["Black Patti"] [née Matilda S. Joyner]," in BDAAM). It is unclear in BDAAM if the band was his own American Military Band. He then moved to Elkhart, Indiana to work for the C. G. CONN as a tester and taught cornet at the Conn Conservatory of Music. He had a disagreement with Mr. Conn and left to work for the Lyon Healy Band Instrument Company in Chicago, Illinois. He died shortly afterward. During his career, Levy had performed on a small bore COURTOIS (Schwartz 1957, 110), a DISTIN cornet (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 144), and on a CONN "New York Wonder Cornet" (C. G. Conn n.d., 10).

Testimonials of some of his many students attest to his great abilities not only as a cornetist, but also as a teacher. Two such testimonials stand out in the Supplement to C. G. Conn’s Truth (C. G. Conn n.d., 14). In one such testimonial, J. D. Rose says, "I wish to thank you for the interest you have taken in me and the advancement I have made under your instruction. I do not hesitate in pronouncing you [are] not only the finest cornet player in the world ,but also the finest instructor." In another testimonial, Mabel Keith conveys her respect for Levy by saying, "His aim is for the advancement of his pupils and he spares no pains to accomplish this end."

Levy’s favorite programmed solos were of the Theme and Variation genre. Frequently performed solos were Carnival of Venice, Grand Russian Fantasia, Levyathon Polka, and his own Whirlwind Polka, made famous years earlier in his youth. This piece became what is known as a signature piece for Jules Levy. One of his most famous students became a famous bandleader and composer, Edwin Franko Goldman. His son, Jules Levy, Jr., was a fine cornetist, as well. He was a director in Hollywood, led his own brass quartet, and made records for Edison, Emerson, and Pathé. Apparently, his recordings were far more accurate than his father’s recordings, and demonstrated great tonguing technique (Noble 1964, 23), once a trademark of his own father in his prime. Sources of information appear throughout this entry.

Frederick Elliot Lewis

(b Boston 1846)

Both of Lewis’ parents were born in New England and were musicians as well. At six years of age, Frederick developed a fondness for music, and by age eleven, he began studying piano with his mother. He then studied organ with Miss R. M. Washington, also a teacher of piano and harmony. He once visited the organ factory of "E. and G. G. Hook & Hastings" in Roxbury, Massachusetts. The company was so impressed with his abilities that they invited him to test new organs. He would often make manufacturing suggestions, which were later adopted by the firm. His next study was that of the violin, and with no private instruction, he was able to give a recital on the instrument in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1861. He was active very early on in the musical community. He performed on and knew the mechanics of fifteen instruments including the piano, organ, cornet, violin, viola, cello, double bass, clarinet, flute, voice, and guitar. He studied each instrument so that "he might be the better to arrange music for an orchestra or military band" (Trotter 1968, 187).

At age fifteen, he was already competent on the piano, organ, and violin. A member of many musical organizations, including that of the Haydn and Mozart Clubs of Chelsea, Massachusetts, he was a highly respected musician. He played with and often conducted the members of the club. He was a member of the Boston Musician’s Union, of which Patrick S. Gilmore was a member.

He and Henry F. Williams are the only two African Americans to have performed in the orchestra at the World Peace Jubilee in Boston in 1872. The entire event was held from 17 June 1872 to 4 July 1872. It was organized by Patrick S. Gilmore and the many performing organizations were coordinated by J. Thomas Baldwin. Lewis apparently auditioned on violin, as this instrument was his strongest and the two reviews for other concerts given by Lewis were of his performance on the violin. For more information about the World Peace Jubilee and the earlier National Peace Jubilee of 1869 see Matthew Arbuckle above.

A composer and arranger, Lewis was constantly in demand and highly respected. He was a man "slightly below medium size, of graceful form," "genial in manners… and [had] a soul absorbed in music" (Trotter 1968, 191). The information for this entry appears in Music and Some Highly Musical People (Trotter 1968, 180-191)

Alessandro Liberati

(b Frascati, Italy 24 Aug [7 July] 1847; d New York 6 Nov 1927)

It is likely that Liberati’s first music lessons were from both his father, Carlo, and mother, Felicetta, both being musically talented. His father was not only a fine bugler, but also an excellent keyed trumpet player. Liberati began studying cornet at age twelve, and at age fourteen, Alessandro made his public debut on the cornet, performing an aria from Il trovatore. Enlisting in the Papal Army in 1864, he played with the First Cacciatori Band of Rome for two years, and in 1866, he performed bugle in Garibaldi’s army. He enlisted in the French Foreign Legion in 1871 and was captured as a prisoner of war in the Franco-Prussian War. From 1866 to 1872, Liberati performed throughout Italy on his cornet, conducted bands, and taught the cornet. Patrick Gilmore heard of Liberati and asked him to be a special soloist for his Peace Jubilee of 1872. In 1873, he became director and cornet soloist all Canadian Artillery Bands. In 1875, he was asked to be the director of the Michigan National Guard Band in Detroit and the Detroit Police Bugle Band. In 1876, he became an American citizen and he and his bands were invited to perform at the Centennial Exposition of the same year in Philadelphia. It is here where he heard Gilmore’s Band, Jacques Offenbach’s Orchestra and many other outstanding organizations. In 1877, he joined J. Thomas Baldwin’s Boston Cadet Band as cornet soloist, plating at the opening of the Brighton Beach Hotel on Coney Island. Carlo A. Cappa persuaded Gilmore to hire Alessandro as an alternate cornet soloist in 1878, and by 1879, he was getting equal billing with such names as Arbuckle, Bent, Emerson, and Levy (Noble 1964, 23). What a section this must have been! Liberati may have been hired by Gilmore "as a hedge" against a possible feud between Levy and Arbuckle (Schwartz 1957, 115). See Matthew Arbuckle in this chapter for information related to the feud which did occur between Arbuckle and Levy. During the winter seasons of 1879 and 1880, Liberati played first trumpet (on cornet) with the Philharmonic Society of New York.

He was special soloist at the 1878, 1879, and 1880 Interstate Expositions of Chicago, and in 1881, in Central Park. He was engaged as soloist in various venues, e.g., the 1881 Yorktown Centennial Celebration (probably with Harvey Dodworth’s Thirteenth Regiment Band), the West End Resort in New Orleans in 1883, and the 1883 Southern Exposition in Louisville, Kentucky. He performed for Grover Cleveland’s visit to the Seventh Regiment Armory in New York, and for Cardinal Tascheru’s visit to Quebec, Canada on 20 June 1886 (Bridges [1972], 61). In 1886, Liberati conducted one of the bands at the Twenty-third Triennial Conclave of the Knights Templar in St. Louis, Missouri. The event was organized by Patrick Gilmore to benefit the children at a widows’ and orphans’ home (Hazen and Hazen 1987, 32). In 1886, he also performed solos at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. In the same year he was Bandmaster of the Seventy-first Regimental National Guard Band in New York City (Rehrig 1991, 457).

In 1889, Liberati organized his own band and billed it as "The World Renowned Liberati Band". One of the many responsibilities of the group was to play between acts of the C. D. Hess Grand Opera Company (Schwartz 1957, 133). It traveled extensively and developed a reputation in America and Canada. In September 1899, his re-organized Grand Military Band of 112 pieces was chosen by the Grand Army of the Republic to lead a parade through the streets of Philadelphia in honor of the Union Army Veterans of the city. He rode on a black stallion, wore his uniform decorated with many medals, and performed on a golden cornet, while he directed the band. He directed the band for many years, until as late as 1922 in Tulsa, Oklahoma (Bridges [1972], 62). Liberati played cornet solos at Washington Park on the Delaware, near Philadelphia in the summer of 1902, and later that year, went on two concert tours, the first one of major cities between Philadelphia and Dallas, Texas, where he played at the State Fair, and the second one terminating in New York City, just before Christmas (C G. Conn 1902, 23). Alessandro made a number of recordings for Edison in the 1890’s. They show him at his best, unlike Levy’s recordings mentioned earlier. One of his more famous students was Albertus L. Meyers, cornetist for Sousa's Band on tour beginning on 4 July 1925, leaving Sousa after the Willow Grove engagement on 13 September 1925 (Bierley 2003). Meyers then became the long-time conductor of the Allentown Band. It is interesting to note that Alessandro played with false teeth for years, and like Bent, was one of the best soloists that Herbert L. Clarke ever heard (Clarke 1935, 4). Sources of information appear throughout this entry.

Edward B. Llewellyn

(b St. Louis, MO 11 Jan 1879; d Monahans, TX 25 Sept 1936)

James D. Llewellyn (b Wales 1843; d. ?Chicago), Edward’s father, played cornet in St. Louis when Edward was still a young man. Moving to Chicago in 1885, James played in various venues including the Columbian World’s Fair in 1893 and first chair with Brooke’s Chicago Marine Band from 1895 to 1899. In 1890, Edward began to study the cornet with his father, and he studied piano, violin, and harmony at Chicago Music College. Playing in church at an early age, Edward joined T. P. Brooke’s Band in 1896. Both father and son were featured soloists with the group, and the two often played duets together with the band. In 1899, Edward played first trumpet [on trumpet?] with Adolph Rosenbecker’s Symphony Orchestra, succeeding Bert Brown. After his father left Brooke’s Band in 1900, Edward became first chair and solo cornet, replacing his father. In the summer of 1903, he was special cornet soloist with Brooke’s Band on Catalina Island and solo cornet with Weils Band, the Official Band of the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.

From 1905 to 1906, he was cornet soloist with the U. S. Marine Band in Washington D.C., and in 1907, special soloist with the British Guards Band on Manhattan Beach. With this band, he played a selection dedicated to Arbuckle who had died in 1883. The piece was performed on Arbuckle’s own cornet that he used with Gilmore’s Band over twenty five years earlier. Between 1907 and 1909, he played first trumpet with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, and was soloist with the Rochester Municipal Band in the summers from 1908 to 1912. During the winter of 1909, he was first trumpet in the Chicago Opera Orchestra and, in 1911, first trumpet with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, an organization with which he stayed with until his formal retirement from playing. For summer employment from 1916 to 1923, he played first trumpet for the Ravinia Park Opera Company. He played the cornet and trumpet equally as well and wrote many compositions for the cornet. He died tragically of an automobile accident in 1936. Information for this entry appears in Pioneers in Brass (Bridges [1972], 62-63) and The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music (Rehrig 1991, 465).

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