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The Father of Band Music in America

Thomas Coates, Frederick J. Keller, Franz Von Suppe


World Premiere Recordings - Period Instruments



“The pieces on this recording are performed with great sensitivity, clarity, precision, and nuance... Douglas Hedwig clearly encouraged a deep sense of ensemble within the group... The lightness and transparency of the group's texture is quite refreshing... These compositions bring to light a fascinating era in American wind band music, performed authentically.”
James T. Decker, ITA Journal [January 2018]
“All pieces on the recording are expertly performed by the virtuoso musicians... The recordings capture a fascinating look at America's past. Liner notes are detailed and contribute greatly to the overall enjoyment of the performances.”
Kim McCormick, Pan Pipes [January 2017]
“this is thoroughly delightful music—nothing profound, but toe-tappingly entertaining and delightful. The excellent detailed booklet notes take pains to point out some creative features in Coates’s music as compared to that of his contemporary colleagues... As one would surmise, Douglas Hedwig and his ensemble give rousing, note-perfect performances that will have you tramping about your house in a one-person parade. They are afforded excellent recorded sound by MSR... Lovers of popular Americana of yore should scoop up this disc, and its predecessor, without delay; enthusiastically recommended.”
James A. Altena, Fanfare [November/December 2016]
“Although Coates' language was in the conventional genre of his time, his style goes well beyond that of his contemporaries. Indeed, he was able to take a simple tune and transform it into something more harmonically daring and innovative. There are even hints of jazz in some of his works... Recorded on period instruments, Hedwig and his Newberry forces exude highly polished performances full of fun and joy, and the marching spirit of the music is consistently portrayed with an unmatched sense of ensemble and attention to detail. Excitingly fascinating stuff in top drawer sonics and with detailed annotations which I recommend unreservedly.”
Gerald Fenech, Music & Vision [October 2016]
“The list of instruments collectively owned by the members of Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band is impressive in its own right but it’s the wonderful music that they make with those rare instruments that is the telling story...
Playing old brass instruments is a chore and puts the contemporary musician at a disadvantage. Using an original mouthpiece adds an even higher road block. However, the Newberry group has overcome these obstacles with great skill and their use of original equipment certainly allows them to enter the Victorian sound-world with greater ability than most period brass ensembles... O’Connor has prepared all the music, making scores and performance editions having painstakingly corrected the many errors in the various band parts.”
Jeffrey Nussbaum, Historic Brass Society [September 2016]
“[Coates'] original compositions and medleys of traditional tune arrangements are presented alongside similar works by Frederick Keller and Franz von Suppé, and played on period instruments (including authentic mouthpieces) by the outstanding Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band. It’s difficult to imagine a library that wouldn’t benefit from owning this disc.”
Rick Anderson, CD Hotlist for Libraries [July 2016]
“[a] superlative MSR Classics recording of band music conducted by Douglas Hedwig... For lovers of brass and those who enjoy exploring musical byways, these recordings are simply marvelous. The bands that Hedwig conducts play original period instruments – and, equally noteworthy, they use period mouthpieces to play them... The attention to detail in these performances is wonderful. This would not matter a whit, though, if the music itself were unworthy. But it is not: much of it deserves to be deemed “undiscovered delights.” The sound of Hedwig’s musicians is truly unlike that of any other bands: these original-instrument, original-mouthpiece performances are throwbacks of the most interesting, valuable and moving kind, profoundly connecting the 21st century with the everyday musical experiences of the middle of the 19th.”
Mark J. Estren, InfoDad [August 2016]
“This recording offers all of Coates’s band music that was published in the 1880s... it is easy to imagine that this is how bands sounded in the 1880s, when they were the most popular music groups in America.”
Kilpatrick, American Record Guide [July/August, 2016]
The monument to THOMAS COATES (1803/13–1895) in the 7th Street Cemetery in Easton, Pennsylvania, bears the inscription “The Father of Band Music in America.” This is a rather remarkable claim on behalf of a musician so little known today, and the sentiment may simply reflect the pride of the community regarding a fellow citizen who was an important part of the wind band movement in the United States. A closer look at the career of Coates, however, suggests that the epitaph may contain a larger element of truth than his modern obscurity may indicate. Perhaps the inscription may be better stated as “A Father of Band Music in America,” because at every important moment in the rise of the idiom, his contemporaries acknowledged his importance. He was likely a very early circus bandmaster, his compositions and arrangements were popular before, during and after the Civil War, and he was named by the United States government to a federal commission to improve the quality of military band music. He was respected by his fellow band leaders, and his funeral marches were given particular praise as the finest composed for wind band. He produced works for band, piano, voice, and he was an important leader in the establishment of the community guitar ensembles of the late Victorian Era.
This recording presents music from late 19th-century printed and manuscript parts. Music publishers rarely produced scores before the 1890s, so scores were prepared from the collected parts for the recording by Michael B. O’Connor. The errors and inconsistencies in these parts were considerable, revealing that apparent little attention was given to the proof reading of individual parts before publication. The instruments played on the recording were constructed during the second half of the 19th century, although a few were built during the first decade of the 20th century on models designed in the previous century, using the same materials and construction methods. The band also played period mouthpieces, a rare practice in these types of recordings. Although presenting real challenges for the players, the use of the original mouthpieces is essential in capturing the sound of these instruments. Late Victorian instruments in the United States were generally pitched higher than A=450Hz and this recording was performed at A=454Hz.
Throughout his long career in the musical arts, conductor Douglas Hedwig has pursued a wide diversity of expression. As a trumpeter, he was a member of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra for twenty-seven years, performing with the greatest conductors of his generation. As founding-member and director of the   Metropolitan Brass Quartet, he toured nationally and internationally under Columbia Artists and Maxim Gershunoff managements. As former 1st Cornet and Soloist with the Goldman Band (1976-2005), he performed and recorded under the baton of such American band greats as Richard Goldman, Leonard Smith, Ainslee Cox and Morton Gould. As Music Director and Conductor of the Coates Brass Band, Hedwig led the group in Quickstep, a recording of all the known Civil War period compositions of Thomas Coates [MSR Classics MS1422]. Major Hedwig served as Commander and Conductor of the 89th Army Band, New York Guard (2006-2012), and guest-conducted the West Point Band (United States Army Band) in the 2012 World Premiere of his Tone Poem on Taps. A frequent guest-conductor of the Brooklyn College Conservatory Orchestra, Wind Ensemble and Contemporary Music Ensemble, he also founded and directed the Conservatory Brass Ensemble (1985-2012), which gave concerts and held residencies in England (Royal Academy of Music), Germany (Karlsuhe Hochscule fur Musik) and Switzerland. As part of a research fellowship from the City University of New York (1996) that examined British brass instrument pedagogy, Hedwig created, directed and later supervised, the first secondary school-based English-Style brass band in the United States, the St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s Brass Band. Also a gifted composer, Hedwig has works for strings, concert band, brass ensemble, trumpet, organ and percussion. A recent commission by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra will be premiered during the 2016-17 season. Dr. Hedwig is Professor Emeritus at Brooklyn College (CUNY), and previously served on the faculty of The Juilliard School. He is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, granted by the United States Department of State, J. William Fulbright Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts and the City Council of New York, among others.
Newberry’s Victorian Cornet Band was founded in 2002 by Michael O’Connor to explore the largely forgotten repertoire of wind band music composed between the end of the Civil War and the advent of the Sousa Band in 1892. This was a formative era for the instrumentation and the music of the American wind band, and the music played by these bands was one of the primary entertainment options available to most Americans. The Newberry Band plays only music published during this time on instruments from the era with original period mouthpieces. Our name reflects the practice of Victorian bands naming themselves after their leaders, even after another leader has taken over. In that spirit, we take our name from our original stage leader, Flora Newberry.
THOMAS COATES (1803/13–1895)
Wilking Quickstep
Plantation Echoes

Safe in the Arms of Jesus – Fantasia

March Funebra, Op.18
“Bontey en avant” Quickstep
Columbian National Potpourri

FRANZ VON SUPPÉ (1819–1895) | Arr. by J.B. Claus
My Native Land

Tycoon March
Funeral March, Op.19
Salute to Erin – Medley Overture

All music editions by Michael B. O’Connor

MSR Classics
Late 19th Century Music for American Wind Band NEWBERRY'S …