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Brass Band Music of the Civil War

Sir Henry Bishop, Thomas Coates, Gaetano Donizetti, George H. Goodwin, A. Kurrick, Lowell Mason, Philip Phile, Ignaz Pleyel, B. F. Porter, William Tanzer


Out of Print


“a fascinating collection... The band copes with the difficulties of period instruments admirably... the sound is quite pleasing, the technique surprising, and the blend is excellent... The balance between melody and accompaniment is outstanding, and the solo passages are very well performed.”
Frank Gazda, Delaware State University, ITA Journal [January 2018]
“You will not hear the power, brilliance, and raspiness of modern brass instruments here; these numbers are all performed (using period mouthpieces, too) on small-bore 19th-century cornets, alto, tenor, and baritone horns, and a tuba, with support from snare drum, bass drum, and cymbals. According to the annotation, the mouthpieces and instruments date from approximately 1855 to 1872. The result is a smooth, mellow sonority that may take some getting used to. This is the sound that accompanied the Civil War’s marching armies as they emerged from the gazebos or bandstands of town parks… most of the music hasn’t been heard for more than a century and it has probably been nearly a century since a band made a mellow, blended sound like this.”
James Miller, Fanfare [September/October 2012]
“This recent CD is a fine effort by an American ensemble to expose a little-known part of the American musical heritage… In his informative CD notes, Michael O’Connor presents what little information is known of Coates, who in the pre and post American Civil War periods was an important and accomplished musician. His many accomplishments have been faded by time… Also represented on this finely played CD are works of the period by William Tanzer, George Goodwin, Henry Bishop, A. Kurrick, Philip Phile, B.F. Porter, and Ignaz Pleyel. The Coates Brass Band, under the able direction of Douglas Hedwig, played with enthusiasm and delicate ensemble work. Of particular note was the wonderful E-flat cornet playing of Jeff Stockham. The ensemble managed to tame these notoriously difficult 19th century instruments. We are indebted to the members of the Coates Brass Band for this fine historically informed recording of a little-known slice of the American musical heritage.”
Jeffrey Nussbaum, Historic Brass Society [August 2012]
“But for those with an interest in music of the period, this MSR disc is a worthy anthology, suggesting the mix of dance music, funerary music, and settings of classical and traditional favorites with which the Civil War bandmaster roused the troops and entertained private citizens. One thing that distinguishes this recording is the fact that the Coates Brass Band plays original instruments using original mouthpieces, which produce an authentically mellow sound, from the burnished glow of the cornets through the plump tones of the E-flat tuba to the rope-tension snare and bass drums. The recording, made in a church in Pawling, New York, underscores the mellowness of the old instruments… this is an entertaining and enlightening endeavor, and I recommend it to all with an interest in the period and its music.”
Lee Passarella, Audiophile Audition [August 2012]
“The chief attraction of this disc is the serious attention that is paid to a body of music which it would be easy to ignore or patronise… This disc contains all of [Coates’] compositions known from Civil War sources, together with other items of or relating to the period. Taken a few at a time they are pleasantly entertaining… The playing of the Band here appears to be admirable, although the musical tests are few compared with the technical demands of playing on instruments, including mouthpieces, of the Civil War period…”
John Sheppard, MusicWeb International [August 2012]
“The music is very fine... [the band plays with] verve and sensitivity. This disc is an excellent pedagogical tool…”
Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist: New Releases for Libraries [July 2012]
Prior to and during the American Civil War (1861-1865), brass band music flourished in the United States. Indeed, so pervasive and iconic were brass bands during this period that they may rightly be considered the defining musical sound of America in the 19th century. This recording brings to life the authentic character of a military band in the U.S. during the Civil War and features the remarkable music of Thomas Coates.

Produced to commemorate and coincide with the 150th Anniversary (Sesquicentennial) of the American Civil War (2011-2015), this recording is performed by the Coates Brass Band. Much of the music has here been recorded for the first time. In striving to recreate the artistic style of the best musical ensembles of the Civil War period, performance-practice details such as tempo, articulation, dynamics, phrasing and balance have all been carefully researched and integrated into these performances.

The Coates Brass Band, which honors the musicians of the 47th PA Vol. Infantry Regt. Band, specializes in historically informed performance of mid-19th century brass music. All of the music on this recording was performed on original instruments and mouthpieces of the period. The individual players have dedicated themselves to meeting the challenges presented by these early brass instruments, manufactured at a time when the relatively new technology of valve systems and overall instrument design were not standardized and were undergoing nearly continuous experimentation and change.

This is the music that sent soldiers off to war in 1861, and stirred, inspired, consoled, and uplifted them and their loved ones in towns and cities across America throughout the war’s duration, and beyond. It is hoped that this recording will help to create a new appreciation among contemporary audiences for this music and a fuller understanding of its influences on 19th-century American life.

Ten of the eleven works by Thomas Coates on this disc were collected and edited by Dr. Michael O’Connor, Assistant Professor of Musicology at Palm Beach Atlantic University. Through his research, Dr. O’Connor has made available to modern-day audiences extraordinary music that likely has not been heard in more than a century. [ Douglas F. Hedwig ]

DR. DOUGLAS F. HEDWIG Music Director and Conductor
Professor of Music at The City University of New York-Brooklyn College, Douglas Hedwig previously served on the faculty of The Juilliard School. He earned his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the Juilliard School in 1986. Trumpeter with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for 27 years (retired), he was also 1st Cornet & Trumpet Soloist with the renowned Goldman Concert Band from 1976-2005. Director and Conductor of the Brooklyn College Conservatory Brass Ensemble since 1985 (leading concert tours of England, Germany and Switzerland), he also conducted the conservatory’s wind ensemble, orchestra, and contemporary ensembles. His professional conducting career began as Assistant Conductor of The Juilliard Brass Ensemble at the Bergen Music Festival, Norway, in 1989. As Co-Founder and Executive Director of Orvieto Musica (a chamber music festival in Italy), he conducted the festival wind and brass ensembles in concerts throughout central Italy (1994-95). In 1995, Hedwig founded and conducted the first school-based British-Style brass band in the United States, the St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s Band of New York City. He was Executive Producer and Music Director of the 1998 Telly Award-winning documentary, “Fanfare”. Since 2007, Major Douglas Hedwig has served as Commander and Conductor of the 89thArmy Band, New York Guard, performing concerts, ceremonies and parades throughout New York State. In spring 2012, he guest-conducted the West Point Band in the premiere performance of his work for concert band, Tone Poem on Taps, composed in honor of the 150th Anniversary of America’s most famous bugle call, Taps.
THOMAS COATES (1803/10–1895)
Northampton Quickstep
Buckley’s Minstrels

GAETANO DONIZETTI (1797-1848) | Arranged by Thomas Coates
Death Song from Lucia di Lammermoor
B-flat cornet solo: Robert High
E-flat cornet solo: Jeff Stockham


TRADITIONAL (Patriotic Union Song)
Red, White and Blue | Arranged by John F. Stratton

WILLIAM TANZER (1700-1783)
St. Martin’s

LOWELL MASON (1792-1872)

Temperance Quickstep
Cottage by the Sea 2-Step

GEORGE H. GOODWIN (1826-1903)

SIR HENRY R. BISHOP (1786-1855) | Arranged by John F. Stratton
Sweet Home

Dustin’s Quickstep
Quickstep (Manchester Cornet Band Books, Set 2, No.32)

Dead March

Uncle Tom’s Cabin

PHILIP PHILE (c. 1734-1798) (Traditional Patriotic Union Song)
Hail, Columbia | Arranged by John F. Stratton

Peace, Troubled Soul

Baritone horn solo: Barry J. Bocaner

IGNAZ PLEYEL (1757-1831)
Pleyel’s Hymn

Quickstep (Manchester Cornet Band Books, Set 2, No.31)

MSR Classics
From Countryside to Concert Hall