King, Karl L(awrence)

views updated

King, Karl L(awrence)

King, Karl L(awrence), American bandmaster and composer; b. Painterville, Ohio, Feb. 21, 1891; d. Fort Dodge, Iowa, March 31, 1971. After 8 grades of public schools in Cleveland and Canton, Ohio, during which he began to play brass instruments (primarily the baritone horn) under the tutelage of local musicians, he quit school to learn the printing trade, but soon began to play in and compose for local bands. In 1910 he initiated his short career as a circus bandsman, bandmaster, and composer, ending it in 1917-18 as bandmaster of the Barnum & Bailey Circus Band (for which he had already written what was to remain his most famous march, Barnum & Bailey’s Favorite). In 1920 he conducted his first concert with the Fort Dodge Military Band, with which he was to be associated for half a century. In 1922 the band began to receive municipal tax support under the Iowa Band Law (for which one of King’s marches is named), and its name was changed to the Fort Dodge Municipal Band, although it was known commonly as Karl L. King’s Band. For 40 years it toured widely over its region. He was one of the founders, in 1930, of the American Bandmasters Assn.; he served as president of that group in 1939, and in 1967 was named honorary life president. Among his 260-odd works for band are concert works, novelties, waltzes, and all manner of dance forms; but marches predominate, from the circus marches of his early days to sophisticated marches for univ. bands (such as Pride of the Illini for Illinais and Purple Pageant for Northwestern) and especially to easy but tuneful and well-written marches for the less accomplished school bands. The musical The Music Man (1957) was inspired in part by King’s music, according to its composer and fellow Iowan, Meredith Willson.


T. Hatton, K.L. K., An American Bandmaster (Evan-ston, 111., 1975).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire