The Hymns and Carols of Christmas

James Henry Fillmore, Sr.

Born: June 1, 1849, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Pseudonym: Harold Bennett.

Died: February 8, 1936, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Son of a Disciples of Christ minister, Fillmore began supporting his family at age 16 by running his fatherís singing school, after his fatherís death. He and his brothers founded the Fillmore Brothers Music House in Cincinnati, which specialized in the publication of religious music. He composed a number of hymn tunes, anthems, and cantatas. Frederick Augustus Fillmore was his brother. James collaborated with Jessie Brown Pounds for some 30 years. His son was John Henry Fillmore, Jr. who composed numerous marches -- and who both liked "band" music and played the slide trombone! (see below)  Fillmoreís works include:


Source: The Cyberhymnal

James Henry Fillmore Jr.

James Henry Fillmore Jr. (1881 - 1956) was the most flamboyant bandsman of his time, an era that stretched across fifty years. During those years, he probably wrote, arranged, and edited more band music than any other composer/ bandmaster in history. According to his biographer, Paul Bierley, Fillmore composed over 250 works and arranged over 750 others.

The eldest of five children, Fillmore had an outstanding singing voice and was encouraged to sing in Sunday School by his father, who often rewarded him with a fifty-cent fee. He dabbled with piano for several years and then learned to play flute, violin, and guitar with amazing ease. He was fascinated most of all by the slide trombone, an instrument which his father, a partner in the Fillmore Brothers religious music publishing business, considered too evil for any righteous person to play. His mother, however, believed that practicing trombone might help keep Henry out of mischief, and she secretly saved enough money to buy a second- hand instrument for her son. For a time, he worked in his father's publishing business, but left in 1905 after an argument concerning the ``evils'' of band music and the problems in Henry's personal life -- he had fallen in love with Mabel May Jones, an exotic show dancer. After a proposal by mail, the two were married and both found employment with the Lemon Brothers Circus, launching him on a career as musician and bandmaster.

Americans We March
Fillmore had problems deciding on a title for this march. His band was giving a series of concerts at the local zoo, so he would introduce the new work as The Cincinnati Zoo one day and as Pure Food and Health the next! Finally, realizing that it was probably his finest march, he published it in 1929 as Americans We and dedicated it to "all of us." Vivacious, solid, and appealing, this march has the qualities that characterized Fillmore's long life as an irresistible public performer.

His Honor
Some of Fillmore's marches, overtures, and novelty pieces were composed especially for his own band of professional musicians, organized in 1927 in Cincinnati. His Honor was one such favorite of both his band members and audiences alike. The title refers to Cincinnati Mayor Russell Wilson, a man who impressed the composer with his sense of humor as well as his executive ability. It was probably played for the first time by the Fillmore Band at a concert at the Cincinnati Zoological Gardens in August 1933. Exhibiting unexpected melodic and rhythmic changes, the march is reflective of a spirited and colorful bandsman.

The Klaxon, March
Composed in 1929, this march (subtitled March of the Automobiles) was written for the Cincinnati Automobile Show, which began at the Music Hall in January 1930. Fillmore invented a new instrument for the occasion called a Klaxophone. It consisted of twelve automobile horns, mounted on a table and powered by an automobile battery. This march has been edited by Frederick Fennell, founder and director of the Eastman Wind Ensemble. Fennell has made a life's work of restoring old marches, printed in hard-to-read miniature folio versions, to full concert publication size. He has always attempted to stay true to the instrumentation and phrasing characteristic of the original composition.


Music Program Notes

The Cyberhymnal



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