1915? Municipal Band

Bloomington-Normal has had a community or municipal band for over a 100 years.  The photo above is from around 1915—best guess.  If anyone recognizes anyone in this photo, the date it was taken, the location, or other interesting facts, please contact the band


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We’ve asked, Dr. Paul Rosene, founding conductor of the present-day BN Community Concert Band and 1940s alum of Illinois State University, to offer reflections on this unique photo given his history with music in the community.  Here are some of Paul’s thoughts on the photo:

  • The photo you sent is in good condition and I am struck by the "Rain Catcher" bass in the back. Therefore, the photo must be sometime in the early 1900's. Sousa asked Conn instrument company to come up with a better bass instrument than the Helicon bass.  He didn't like the "thin sound" from that small bore brass instrument which everyone called the "Helicon.” So, Conn contacted James Pepper, brass specialist, to create the "better bass instrument."  Pepper came up with the larger bore bass and called it the “Sousaphone" and Conn began to produce them around 1890 or so. Everyone thought that it was invented so the bass could be carried easily and used as the band marched, but Sousa's bands actually only marched once!  Sousa just wanted MORE bass sound for the bands!  Evolving from the "rain catcher" came the bell front model and then gradually from a small bell size of 22 inch until 1924 or so when it was expanded and made into the "bell front” or the 26 inch bell front model that we know today. I learned much of this while I was in the Air Force Band system.  (March 24, 2018)
  • I noticed some metal clarinets in the photo and the Bloomington Municipal Band had the very colorful uniforms!  We used to call these kinds of uniforms "gaudy."  Therefore, the photo must have been taken in the early 1900s and prior to 1924, because of the "Rain Catcher" bass horns shown!  (March 24, 2018)
The B-N Community Concert Band  P.O. Box 316 |  Bloomington IL 61702-5081  | Copyright © B-N Community Concert Band