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Marine Band History and Its Leaders
J Famous Government Organization Has Con tributed Much toJVashington Music. Recollections of Some of the High Lights in Its Public Service—Clashes of Officials. John Philip Sousa, leader of the Marine Band, 1880-1892. BY JOHN CLAGETT PROCTOR. THE mind of a child records events which the mind of an adult soon forgets. The parades, the circuses, the ercursiens and picnics and the friends of our youthful days remain with us in memory's great storehouse—almost as clear today as when we were children running around in our bare feet in Summertime, or skating or sleigh riding in Winter. Our teachers and our instructors we can never forget, nor the hurdy-gurdy man,' the organ grinder, the old pieces we • used to sing, and, of course, the mouth organ and the accordion so popular with boys many years ago. for then, to a large extent, we had to make our own music. There were few bands in the city, and few public concerts were given. During the picnic and excursion season the bands would play at Beyer's Park—now the base ball grounds—and at the Schuetzen Park, nearly half a mile farther out the Seventh Street road, and the excursion boats usually supplied entertainment in this way. but cur main treat in music was during some big parade on the Avenue when the Marine Band turned out—as did every one else. And oh, how, upon such occasions, we got an early start for the Avenue, where we hustled for a place of vantage, perhaps a seat on the curbstone, where we would wait for what would seem a very long time for the parade to start, and just about the time we began to lose heart, some cme would start to cry “Here they come! Here they come! Here they ccme!” Soon the Marine Band in its gaudy uniform would loom up in the distance, and the faint strains of the "Battle Hymm of the Republic,” or some other popular air, would reach our childish ears. When the band would reach us, cur enthusiasm would know no bounds. Transfixed, our eyes would be glued on the drum major as he performed all sorts of maneuvers with his stick, and on the accuracy of the marching of the members of the band, seemingly handicapped with their musical instruments, especially the fellow with the big bass drum and the man with the bass horn which seemed big enough to hold a barrel of water, cr which, if turned into a horn of plenty would hold enough prosperity to carry us over the present depression. i IOW things have changed! Today we have ' * several fine bands in Washington—con certs during the Summer months and indoor concerts during cold and inclement weather, and for the benefit v/f the shut-ins and those unable to attend these performances regular broadcastings throughout the year. All the principal bands are Government owned, and include: The Marine Band, with Capt. Taylor Branson as leader: the Army Band, Capt. 'Arthur S. Wiu romb, second letuler the Marine Band, * 1 * } * • - 1 », % Left to right: I^ewis, Samuel and Nathaniel Cantsi. brought to this country by their father. Caetano Carusi. in 1805, tchen he enlisted at Catania, Italy, jot service in the United States Marine Band. William J. Stannard. leader; the Navy Band, led by Lieut. Charles Benter, and over at Fort Myer there is an excellent Cavalry bend, of which Louis S. Yassel is leader. Prof. Zim merman conducts the band concerts at Soldiers' Home, in a band house delightfully situated, with rural surroundings. But the three large bands—the Marine, Army and Navy— are the main concert bands of the Federal Capital, and the first menti3ned. having grown up with the city, is naturally the pride cf the native Washingtonian, who has seen it develop into the greatest band in the world— at least he thinks so. A few days ago the writer called on Maj. Edwin N. McClellan, the historian of the Marine Corps, though his official title is "officer in charge of historical collections.” Some folks are willing to rest just where their predecessors left off, while others, feeling the importance of their positions, are eager to check up on what the other fellow has done, and if possible add to and improve upon his work, and this last description fits exactly Maj. McClellan, who has written many chapters upon the Marine Corps, a work undoubtedly requiring much intensive research and labor. The major was very knd in letting the writer have access to his records, and the writer thanked him very much for doing so. ACCORDING to Maj. McClellan, William Farr was the first leader of the band, his definite services having started January 21, 1799. and ended November 22. 1804. Of course the Marines had some sort of music, principal ly to march by, shortly after November 10. 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized the recruiting of Marines, which was done with fife and drum, the latter bearing a picture of a rattlesnake and under it the well known motto, ‘ Don't Tread on Me,” which is used today on the drums of the Marine Corps. No doubt they were seen by the followers of ex Kaiser Wilhelm when our boys of the Marine Corps made their lamous charges which established even more than ever this arm of Uncle Sam’s military service. However, this little handful of musicians under Drum Major William Farr did not quite suit the musical taste of President Jefferson when he came into office, for the Marines, headed by the leader, Lieut. Col. Burrows, it will be recalled, came to Washington in July, 1800, and apparently successfully entertained President John Adams, though they did not succeed quite so well with his successor, who was himself a musician and a lover of music. Upon one occasion, we are told by Maj. McClellan, when Mr. Jefferson and Col. Burrows were horseback riding together, the President suggested that it might be a good idea to enlist some musicians in Italy as Marines and bring them back to the United States and thus have two bands—one Ameri can and the other Italian. Naturally the commandant was anxious to please the Presi dent. and so, in 1803, he directed Capt. John Hall, who went cut with Preble’s Squadron, t ; f ; '• •<«>$<! V\ *'■ to enlist some musicians and to bring them home. Cap;. Hall, upon arriving in the Mediter ranean. met an Italian professor named Gaetano Varano, whom he tried to induce to come to America, but this he declined to do. suggesting, as a likely substitute, Gaetano Caruso of Catania, Italy. The captain, we are told, visit'd Catania, and on February 17, 1805, enlisted Gaetano Caruso, regarded as “captain of the band," his two sons Samuel and Ignazio. aged 10 and 9 years respectively; Francisco Pulizzi, Felizzi (Felix) Pulizzi, Venerando Pulizzi, aged 12; Michael Sardo, Gaetano Sarda, and 10 others. Lewis Caruso, a very young sen of Gaetano Caruso, was also brought along, though not enlisted. THIS band of Italians and their wives and children—which Included besides those mentioned Dominico Guarracias, Joseph Papa, Salvadoma Sauria. Pasquale Sauria, Giacoma Sando. Ignazio DeMauro, Antonio Paterno, and Corano Signoulle—immediately went aboard the frigate Chesapeake and participated in the war with Tripoli, and finally, on September 19, 1805, a.-ived at the Navy Yard in this city. Gaetano Carusi, in writing of his arrival here, said: “ * * * arrived in a desert, in fact a place containing some two or three taverns, with a few scattering cottages or log huts, called the City of Washington, the Metropolis of the United States of America.” Into the great melting pot of the American Nation, a distinct race of people which has been forming since the various foreign countries began to settle the Western Hemisphere, the blood of -these music-loving Italians has intermingled and numerous descendants, no doubt, exist here and elsewhere. Gaetano "Caruso"—changed to "Carusi” by the Ameri can branch of this family—has had a number of well-known descendants who made Wash ington their home. Of the earlier branch, three of the sons of Gaetano, the emigrant—Lewis, Samuel and Nathaniel—were lifelong residents of this city, and were made members of the Association cf Oldest Inhabitants on February 22, 1867. Of this generation—the second in this country— Lewis Carusi the famous dancing teacher of a hundred years ago, is the best known. His saloon.* or Washington City Assembly Rooms, stood on the site of the old theater at Eleventh and C streets northwest, where once stood the first building erected for a theater in this city, which was destroyed by fire. April 19. 1820. Apparently the walls were left standing for some time, when Mr. Carusi bought the site and what remained of the structure, and opened his assembly rooms there in 1822, and it was here that w-ere held the inaugural balls of Presidents John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson. Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk. Zachary Taylor, Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan. It is said that the waltz was first introduced in Carusi’s saloon In 1826, by Baron Stackelburg. n • Prof. Francisco Fanciulli. leader of th6 Marine Band, 1892-1897. AMONG the early Washingtonian# who took dancing lessons from Mr. Carusi was the writer's mother, and during her lifetime she often talked of her childhood days and the old colored slave—Harry Wh:t2—who played the violin for the children to dance by. La ter she married, and after a number of years had passed by she moved with the family to the southwest comer of Florida avenue i boundary) and W street northwest. This was in 1871 and there were few houses in the neighborhood at the time. In the block to the north. Square 357, there was but one house, a typical Uncle Tom's cabin, and here lived a Negro family which made use of our pump, about the nearest to them at the time. Peter White, the son of the old man occupying the shack, usually came for water. Upon one occasion the writer’s m:ther Inquired of the son if his father was the one who had played the fiddle for Prof. Carusi. and he said that he was. Soon a warm friendship sprang up between the old gray haired Negro man, bent with age, and Carusi'* former pupil, for whom he had played, and they often talked over the old days, until poor old Harry White finally pess.’d into the great bevond. It is probable that by 1860 Mr. Carusi had given up his business at Eleventh and C street*, for we find him giving his May festival at Willard's Hall, an advertisement to this effect in The Star May 21 of that yoar, saying: "May Festival. “Mr. L. Carusi would respectfully announce to the citizens of Washington and vicinity that he will, in compliance with the general wish, repeat his May festival on the 23d instant at Willard Ha'.l. The ladies of Washington, Georgetown and Alexandria are respectfully invited to attend without further notice. Tickets of admission to be had at Metaerott’s music store, at Willard's Hotel and at the door on the evening of the ball.” A few days later at the ball Miss Tenney was crowned as queen. It was about this time also that an unknown poet, calling himself ' Doctor.” drafted the fol lowing eulogistic lines, said to be "Written lor The Star,” which are as follows: "Some Rhymes About Carusi. “By the Doctor. •'ARUSI!—of Carusi, with the return of Spring. A poet, if in Washington, must feel inclined to sing. 1 know not of another name, among the ever greens. Which recalls to us of Washington so many pleasant scenes. So many very pleasant scenes return when he appears, That one could wish Carusi might live a thou sand years. Gray-headed men remember him, when they were giddy boys, And many a dear, good grandmamma among her girlish joys— Drum Major H. II. Floraa. ■ -i '