Scala, Francis (Maria)

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Scala, Francis (Maria)

Scala, Francis (Maria), Italian-American bandmaster and composer; b. Naples, 1819 or 1820; d. Washington, D.C., April 18, 1903. Beginning his musical career on the clarinet, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a musician third-class on the frigate Brandywine when it was anchored at Naples in 1841. Following the ship’s return to Washington, D.C., Scala left the navy for the Marine Corps, and in 1843 was designated fife-major of the fife corps associated with Marine Corps headquarters. On Sept. 9, 1855, he became de facto the leader of the Marine Band; in 1861 he was made “Principal Musician,” and on Sept. 4, 1868, was referred to, for the first time, as “Leader of the Band,” a position he retained until 1871. John Philip Sousa was one of his apprentice bandsmen. In 1945 his son Norman P. Scala made the first of several gifts to the Library of Congress honoring his father; these materials contain a large amount of MSS and printed music, chiefly band arrangements made by or for Scala, that represent in essence the library of the Marine Band during the Civil War; included is a note in the hand of President Abraham Lincoln, then Scala’s Commander-in-Chief.


D. Ingalls, F. S., Leader of the Marine Band from 1855–1871 (thesis, Catholic Univ. of America, 1955).

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire