Archives Find of the Month: Municipal Band and Orchestra

Home » Archives Find of the Month: Municipal Band and Orchestra

In 1926, the Chief of Police wrote a lengthy letterto City Council requesting that Seattle establish a Municipal Band and Orchestra “which will function on call for Federal, State, and Municipal celebrations or entertainments.” At that point, a Seattle Police Band had been in existence for eleven years, but the Chief argued for its promotion and funding as an official city group, saying, “It is my thought that this city is large enough and important enough to afford a Municipal Band.”

The existing Police Band consisted of 25 members of the Police Department as well as five members of the Fire Department. The letter highlighted the accomplishments of the band, noting that at many civic events, “without our own music, the occasion loses its gaiety and enthusiasm.” The group performed for a variety of audiences, including veterans, children, hospital patients, and shut-ins, and appeared at civic events from flag raisings to picnics to bridge dedications.

The letter went on to quote at length many testimonials and letters of thanks from groups who appreciated the band’s performances. The Red Cross stated that concerts “seem to be one of the most beneficial forms of entertainment for the men [at the Veterans Hospital], and it is very apparent to all that the music puts life into them as nothing else can.” The manager of the Pantages Theatre, noting the amount of applause they received there, hoped “that arrangements can be made whereby we may play the Band for a return engagement.”

After noting all the praise the group had received, the letter went on to make its pitch: “The Band has done all in its power to inspire the community and for this reason the community should in turn encourage the Band.” A suggested ordinance included an extra $15 per month for each band member and an extra $60 per month for the band director, as well as a provision that band engagements be considered a day’s work for its members. Despite the lengthy and carefully crafted argument, it appears that the Council simply put the letter on file and no action was taken to create an official Municipal Band.

See previous Finds on the Seattle Municipal Archives’ website: