The University of Virginia Band, also known as the University Band, is the student band of the University of Virginia. At varying times a concert and/or marching ensemble, the organization has existed since at least 1911–1912, though not necessarily continuously.
The earliest student band at the University was recorded in 1832, though like all student activities of that era it seems to have progressed rapidly from music making to riotousness:
In 1832, the echoes of the arcades were awakened by the music of a band composed entirely of students, and the chairman was very pleasantly impressed by their skill. This band, so long as it existed, always played during the intervals of the exercises on the 13th of April and the 4th of July. A serenade with stringed instruments, accompanied by a drum, which took place in March, 1833, called forth only delighted approval; but when repeated, a short time afterwards, was condemned,
doubtless because it had changed to an offensive character; thus, in 1835, a disorderly party of performers playing on fiddles and other instruments, and singing very obscene corn-songs, raised a very discordant hubbub in front of Mr. Wertenbaker's house, which was only discontinued when the proctor came upon the ground. So many flutes and violins were, during the following year, in use in Mrs. Gray's district, and so often, and at such inopportune hours, did their owners employ them, that several of the young men asked the Faculty's permission to remove their domicile to Mr. Conway's. It was reported, indeed, that some of these concerts in the dormitories were kept up until two o'clock in the morning; and the effect finally grew to be so distracting that the Faculty restricted all playing to the intervals between two and three o'clock in the afternoon, and four in the afternoon and eight in the evening. It was prohibited altogether now, as formerly, on Sunday. Both rules were constantly broken.
In the intervening years, the main student musical bands appear to have been the Calathumpians, an irregular group devoted to creating exquisite rackets, or Calathumps, at odd hours through the Grounds, and the disorganized student bands who took part in the Dyke. By the early 1900s, more professional bands had sprung up, and the earliest reference to an organized band appears to be the one organized in 1908-1909 and on a firm footing by 1910-1911. By the 1920s, the University Band was active in supporting athletic events. But, like the Glee Club, the organization did not last long, and was re-founded in 1934.
In 1941, the band's bus, returning from a trip to Yale University, caught fire, resulting in the destruction of 80% of the band's instruments and all its uniforms. Randall Thompson secured grants from the Carnegie Corporation to replace the destroyed equipment. During this period, the band collaborated with the Virginia Glee Club on the recording of the record Songs of the University of Virginia, released in 1951.
The band was much criticized over the years for its performance, and despite a $12,000 appropriation for uniforms, instruments, and facilities, the band saw only a short term improvement, dwindling a few years later to 25 members. By the 1970s the University Band had been supplanted by the Pep Band, also known as the "Fighting Cavaliers Indoor/Outdoor Precision(?) Marching Pep Band and Chowder Society Revue."  The Pep Band's irreverence clashed with the University's ambitions for a large scale football and athletic program, and the Pep Band was effectively replaced by the Cavalier Marching Band, endowed by alumnus Carl Smith, in 2004.
Members[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Bruce, Philip Alexander (1921). History of the University of Virginia. II. pp. 334-335. http://ia700307.us.archive.org/17/items/historyofunivers02brucuoft/historyofunivers02brucuoft_djvu.txt.
- Bruce, Philip Alexander (1921). History of the University of Virginia. V. p. 290. http://ia700307.us.archive.org/8/items/historyofunivers05brucuoft/historyofunivers05brucuoft_djvu.txt.
- Dabney, Virginius (1981). Mr. Jefferson's University: A History. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press. p. 113. ISBN 081390904X. http://xtf.lib.virginia.edu/xtf/view?docId=2006_01/uvaBook/tei/b000325415.xml&chunk.id=d12&brand=default;query=band&set.anchor=2#3.
- Dabney 1981, p. 163
- Dabney 1981, pp. 201-202
- Dabney 1981, pp. 309-310
- Dabney 1981, p. 566