Thomas Coates: Father of Band Music in America

Thomas Coates: Father of Band Music in America

Michael O'Connor


Past Event
In February 1862, the 47th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry disembarked at Key West, Florida. Included in the regiment was a fine brass band, led by Thomas Coates. Musicians in Key West likely knew his name, since Coates was one of the most highly regarded composers of brass band music his day. Yet, while his contemporaries such as Claudio Grafulla and Patrick Gilmore are remembered today, Coates' name has slipped into obscurity. Astonishingly, his monument in Easton, Pennsylvania, bears the inscription, "Father of Band Music in America." How did this so-called father of band music slip into such obscurity? Thomas Coates was a key figure in the establishment of the modern wind-brass and reed-wind band in the U.S., and he was a musical innovator who pushed the established conventions of form and harmony of the idiom. This lecture seeks to "re-place" Coates in the historical narrative of 19th-century wind-band music and discuss the challenges of realizing his music in our time. This lecture will take place in the Green Library, GL220.

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