George Landers' March

Posted in History of the Iowa Bandmasters Association

George Landers' March  (also known as "George Landers' Quickstep") (published 1915)…………………………...Clarence W. ("C.W.") Dalbey

Landers was known as the dean of American bandmasters and the father of Iowa band law. George Landers had a long, active musical career, coming up from a barefoot boy on the shores of Lake Ontario in New York to a nationally known band leader. Acquainted with many great band leaders throughout the nation, he was frequently a special guest conductor at important band sessions in many places. But his main career centered in Clarinda.

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Clarence W. Dalbey was born on April 23, 1859, in the state of Iowa.  He spent most of his life in Des Moines with his wife Lottie and daughter Doris.

From 1902 through 1904 he achieved national recognition by directing the famous Iowa State Military Band.  During his tenure, a number of famous musicians played under his baton, including C.L. Barnhouse, Dick Platt, and Thornton Boyer.  Des Moines-based cornetist and bandmaster T. Fred Henry also played for C.W. Dalbey.

The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music credits Dalbey with over 100 compositions, including marches, rags, overtures, and various other works.  He is perhaps best known for "The Blue and Grey Patrol" (1896).

Dalbey published most of his own works, but he moved his business often as he constantly worked to achieve some measure of success.  A touching aspect of Dalbey's life is revealed by the frequency of these moves:

Dalbey and Roff:  Kansas City, Missouri, 1884-1885
Dalbey and Roff:  Council Bluffs, Iowa, 1885 and 1896-1897
Dalbey Music Company:  Chicago, 1898
Dalbey Music Company:  Frankfort, Indiana, 1899
Dalbey Music Company:  Des Moines, Iowa, 1900-1902, 1904-1906, and 1909
Berry-Dalbey:  Evidently this firm came into existence after Dalbey's widow and daughter gave up the business; its publications show no dates.

In 1909, apparently from the strain of managing all these assorted businesses in addition to his composing, playing, and directing activities, Dalbey suffered a mental collapse and was committed to the Iowa State Mental Hospital in Clarinda.  He eventually died there on March 30, 1912.

The venerable Major George Landers was a close friend of Dalbey's.  At the time of Dalbey's collapse, Landers was the director of the 55th Infantry Band of the Iowa National Guard.  He often brought his band to the hospital for their summer programs and honored Dalbey by playing his compositions while the composer was in the audience.  When Dalbey was bedridden, the band would play by the window to his room.  At Dalbey's funeral, Landers' band played many of Dalbey's favorites.  "George Landers' March" was published posthumously by the firm of Berry-Dalbey.

After Dalbey's death, his wife Lottie managed the business until 1916.  His daughter managed it until 1917 and then dissolved it.

C. W. Dalbey, T. Fred Henry, and C.L. Barnhouse were inducted into the newly established Iowa Bandmasters Association Hall of Fame "Annex" For Pioneering Bandmasters at the IBA Conference in May, 1999.

Biography by William R. Baker

Photo courtesy of Loras John Schissel
Music Division, Library of Congress

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