Timeline of Band Directors

Bob Moody, Director of the Stonewall Brigade Band, conducts the band's Christmas concert at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Staunton, Monday Dec.16, 2013.  (Photo by Norm Shafer).

Bob Moody, Director of the Stonewall Brigade Band, conducts the band’s Christmas concert at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Staunton, Monday Dec.16, 2013.

 

There have been 15 directors for the Stonewall Brigade Band since its inception in 1855. Below you will find a timeline of the band’s leadership with a short biography for each director.

1. AUGUSTUS J. TURNER

Augustus J. Turner was a native of Spartanburg SC, but moved to Staunton from Newtown, Frederick County, to become teacher of vocal and instrumental music at the Wesleyan Female Collegiate Institute, located in a brick building across the street from Trinity Church, which was recently torn down to make a parking lot. He also was agent for sale of pianos and other musical insruments and gave priavate lessons in piano, guitar, flute, violin, and ballad singing. Unlike other original band members he was well advanced in years when he joined the organization. In 1866 he became director of music in the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind Institute, remaining there until the 1890’s; and he continued as director of the Stonewall Brigade Band until 1884. In January 1900 he moved to Indianapolis to make his home with his daughter, Mrs. Cora Turner Freijs. He died there May 14, 1905, survived by four children.

2. F. R. WEBB

F. R. Webb came to Staunton from Ohio in 1883 as director of music in the Virginia Female Institute (now Stuart Hall) and as organist in the Trinity Episcopal Church. He was director of the Stonewall Brigade Band from 1884 to 1892 and continued at intervals with the band until 1910. He also served as drum major of the band on parade. After twenty-seven years in Staunton, Professor Webb returned with his family to his native state of Ohio.

3. FRANCISCO TOUCHON

Francisco Touchon, a native of Switzerland, became director in March, 1892. He formerly had been conductor of the Mexican National Band of Mexico City. In November 1892 he resigned to accept a position in Dallas, Texas.

4. THOMAS PROSHO

Thomas Prosho was born in Derby, England, was instructed in music by V. C. Hill, who in turn was a pupil of Louis Spohr of Germany. Professor Prosho played in the Ole Bull Orchestra during its New England tour. In December 1892 he became director of the Stonewall Brigade Band, moving to Staunton from Richmond. Six months later he resigned to accept leadership of the Richmond Howitzer Band. He remained, however, until December 1893, conducting concerts and parades at the Chicago World’s Fair.

5. J. M. BRERETON

J. M. Brereton, native of Delaware and former conductor of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues Band, became director of the Stonewall Brigade Band in December 1893. He resigned in 1904, though he served for two more decades as a member and instructor of the beginners’ class and for a short time as an assistant director. During his Staunton residence he led the First Presbyterian Church Choir and also taught the Staunton Military Academy band. In 1917 he moved to Richmond, but joined the band on subsequent tours.

6. THOMAS H. BEARDSWORTH

Thomas H. Beardsworth, who was born in Blackpool, England, settled permanently in Staunton to head the VSDB music department, though he had served with the Stonewall Brigade Band several years before. Formerly he had been conductor of the First Virginia Regimental Band. In 1907 he organized and directed the SMA Band and eventually became known throughout the Shenandoah Valley for achievements in music. Professor Beardsworth was elected director of the Stonewall Brigade Band in 1904 and continued in intervals until 1922. He died February 5, 1941 in Staunton.

7. MARTIN G. MANCH

Martin G. Manch was born in Erie PA and moved to Staunton in 1913. He attended the Royal Conservatory in Stuttgart, Germany, and also took training under Henry Gurney of Temple University, F. Melius Christiansen of St. Olaf College, and Frank Koehler of Berlin University. he taught music at VSDB, Augusta Military Academy, Staunton Military Academy, Fishburne Military Academy, Massanutten Military Academy, and Fairfax hall, and in his later years taught private music lessons and speech therapy. Professor Manch was founder and president of the Manch College of Music, and built a large structure in College Park which he sold to the Capuchin Brothers when the college went into bankruptcy during the great depression. He began association with the Stonewall Brigade Band in 1914 and served as director during several periods. He directed the Central Methodist Church Choir, and founded an orchestra at the church, which grew to become the Valley Symphony Orchestra, sharing rehearsal space in City Hall with The Stonewall Brigade Band.

8. ARTHUR JOHNSON

Arthur Johnson, a native of England but veteran of the United States Army, came first to Staunton in 1922 with the Victor Concert Band (of the Victor Talking Machine Company, predecessor to RCA Victor Records) which played at the Shenandoah Valley Fair. He remained in Staunton and became director of The Stonewall Brigade Band in November 1922. He led the band through that winter and through summer concerts until August 1923, when he was called to Chicago because of illness in the family. He continued to be carried on roll as director until 1925 though his own illness prevented his return.

9. ROY W. WONSON

Roy W. Wonson was born in Gloucester, Massachussets, and was educated in public schools there and at the Citadel. He moved to Staunton in 1910 and served as headmaster of Staunton Military Academy until his death October 11, 1942. Among his distinctions was that of presidency of the preparatory school section of the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. He was choirmaster and organist at the Trinity Episcopal Church for a quarter of a century, where he was famous for his cantatas; he was succeeded by Carl Broman at Trinity in 1938. He served as director and assistant director of The Stonewall Brigade Band for several intervals.

10. WILLIAM HOWE RUEBUSH

William Howe Ruebush was born in Singers Glen Virginia. In his early career he earned a wide reputation as teacher of vocal music. During World War I he directed an army band which won many honors in France; and later he led many civilian orchestras and bands, teaching in several institutions including the Shenandoah Conservatory of Music in Dayton VA. He was author of many marches, among them “The Stonewall Brigade March”, “Shenandoah,” and Tulane University’s “Alma Mater Song.” Captain Ruebush spent most of his life in Dayton, VA, where he became president of the Ruebush-Kieffer Publishing Company. For many years he led summer concerts of the Stonewall Brigade Band, and was officially director in 1927 during the absence of Major Wonson.

11. JOSEF STUDENY

Josef Studeny was born in Pilsen, Bohemia, and saw service in the Austrian army until his onorable discharge as master sergeant. He received most of his musical training in Germany, and, upon moving to America, enlisted in the United States army. He served thirty-four years as army bandmaster and retired as first lieutenant. Lt. Studeny was a member of the Stonewall Brigade Band during the 1930’s and director from 1940 to 1948. In 1949 he retired and moved to Highwood, IL. He died at Walter Reed Hospital December 23, 1958.

12. JOHN PAUL SWIECKI

John Paul Swiecki, a native of Michigan, was educated in public schools of Pennsylvania. In 1908 he enlisted in the army and served for forty years. He attended the Army Bandmasters School two years and was associated with musical activities for the remainder of his life. As chief warrant officer he was an army bandmaster for ten years. In 1947 Mr. Swiecki was assigned to the ROTC activities at VMI. Upon retirement from the army he remained at VMI and continued his association with the band there. He was connected with the Stonewall Brigade Band and the Stonewall Brigade Junior Band for several years prior to 1948, when he was elected director of the senior band. He died in Lexington April 7, 1958.

13. PAUL B. SANGER, JR.

Paul B. Sanger, Jr. was born in Free Union, VA. He attended school in Connecticut but took his Bachelor of Science degree at Bridgewater College with a major in musical education. He received a Bachelor of Divinity degree at Bethany Biblical Seminary, Chicago, in 1946, a Bachelor of Music degree at DePaul University Music School in 1947 and a Master of Music degree at the same in 1948. In addition he had courses at Peabody Conservatory and the University of Virginia. From 1947 to 1950 he taught music at Bridgewater College. He moved to Staunton in 1951 and established the band program at Robert E. Lee High School, as well as assuming directorship of the choral program that had been taught by Gladys Wenner, who moved to elementary music instruction. Mr. Sanger became director of The Stonewall Brigade Band in 1958 upon the death of Mr. Swiecki and held that office until 1966, when he resigned to become supervisor of music for the Virginia State Department of Education. Mr. Sanger passed away in Richmond VA.

14. RAYMOND E. BORRELL

Raymond E. Borrell was born January 21, 1928 in Fairmont, WV and was educated in public schools there. He played alto saxophone inf the Fairmont High School Polar Bear Band. he enlisted in the army in 1946 and was assigned to the post band at Camp Kilmer NJ. After his discharge in 1947 he enrolled at the University of West Virginia, where took his Bachelor of Music degree in 1951 and his Master of Music degree in 1953. He taught in West Virginia, California, and Maryland before coming to Staunton to form bands at both Buffalo Gap High School and Fort Defiance HIgh Schools in 1962. He then was band director at Kate Collins Junior HIgh in Waynesboro and Waynesboro High School. He became director of the Stonewall Brigade Band in 1966 and held that post until his resignation in 1975. He passed away in Staunton VA.

15. ROBERT N. MOODY

Robert N. Moody was born March 1941 in Staunton, VA and was educated in the public schools here. He began piano lessons at age 7 with Mattie Michael, began choir study with Beverley Fallis at age 8, and started in band at age 10, when Paul Sanger established the band program for the Staunton Schools in 1951. During his high school years, in addition to playing flute and piccolo in the Lee High Band, he sang in the choirs of First Baptist Church under Beverley (Fallis) Beard and Christ Lutheran Church under Thelma (Koiner) Erwin, his aunt. He began organ instruction with Dr. Carl Broman at Trinity Church upon graduation from high school. He enrolled at the University of Virginia in the School of Enginering and studied Electrical Engineering and Physics for two years before transferring to the Curry School of Education from which he graduated in 1963 with a degree of Bachelor of Science in Music Education. While he was a student at the University of Virginia he was organist at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church in Charlottesville in 1959 and organist/choirmaster at Hinton Avenue Methodist Church in Charlottesville from 1959 through 1963 as well as being chapel organist for the YMCA. He succeeded Raymond Borrell as band director at Buffalo Gap High School in 1963, a post he held for 23 years, also teaching physics at the school for several years and teaching all the beginning band students in the feeder elementary schools. Under his direction the high school band program grew from 17 students to over 120, and with the elementary program he was teaching over 200 students by the time he left teaching for the business world in 1986. He was also the first organist/choirmaster at Covenant Presbyterian Church from 1963-1969, and choir director at Tinkling Spring Presbyterian Church from 1969 through 1983. He became assistant director of the band when Mr. Borrell became director. After completing his Master’s Degree at Madison College in 1974, Mr. Moody became director of The Stonewall Brigade Band in 1975 and has become the longest-tenured director in the history of the band, as well as the first Staunton native, the first student of a former director to become director of The Stonewall Brigade Band and the first director to have a son write music for the band. He is also the only director of the band who is a descendent of one of the original band members. He is also a member and past president of the Staunton-Augusta Rotary Club, working closely with Jazz in the Park.


 

-From The Stonewall Brigade Band, by Marshall Moore Brice. Condensed with additions by Frank Holt (1985) and Robert N. Moody (2003).

The Stonewall Brigade Band by Marshall Moore Brice (Professor of History, Mary Baldwin College, Staunton VA), McClure Printing Company, Inc., Verona, Virginia—Copyright 1967, Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 67-30663.
(Copyright ownership – Stonewall Brigade Band, Inc. 2000 by gift of Elizabeth Brice Lendian).

The Stonewall Brigade Band by Marshall Moore Brice (out of print) is available for reference in the Staunton Public Library, and for loan from the Augusta County Public Library and the Massanutten Regional Library (Harrisonburg, Va.). Copies are available for purchase by special arrangement from the Stonewall Brigade Band, Inc. Address inquiries to: Treasurer, Stonewall Brigade Band, Inc., 3 Gypsy Hill Park, Staunton, VA. 24401.