202nd Army Band

History of the Band

Learn about the first 60 years of the Kentucky National Guard's 202nd Army Band in this three part story.

Connect with the 202nd

Stars and Stripes
A patriotic American march widely considered to be the magnum opus of composer John Philip Sousa. By act of Congress, it is the National March of the United States of America.
A military bugle call, in the category of warning calls, played to warn the troops that they are about to be called to attention.
Adjutant’s Call
A military bugle call, in the category of formation calls, played to signal that the adjutant is about to form the guard, battalion, or brigade. This call will normally be accompanied by drums.
You're a Grand Old Flag
A patriotic song of the United States. The song, a spirited march written by George M. Cohan, is a tribute to the U.S. flag. In addition to obvious references to the flag, it incorporates snippets of other popular songs, including one of his own. Cohan wrote it in 1906 for George Washington, Jr., his stage musical.
Army Song
"The Army Goes Rolling Along" is the official song of the United States Army and is typically called "The Army Song." The song is based on the "Caisson Song" written by field artillery First Lieutenant (later Brigadier General) Edmund L. Gruber, Lieutenant William Bryden, and Lieutenant (later Major General) Robert Danford while stationed at Fort Stotsenburg in the Philippines in March 1908. The tune quickly became popular in field artillery units. In 1917 the Secretary of the Navy and Army Lieutenant George Friedlander of the 306th Field Artillery asked John Philip Sousa to create a march using the "Caisson Song." Sousa changed the key, harmony, and rhythm and renamed it "U.S. Field Artillery." The recording sold 750,000 copies. Sousa didn't know who had written the song and had been told that it dated back to the Civil War. Although an Army magazine claims that Sousa passed on his royalties to Gruber, other sources state that Gruber became involved in a prolonged legal battle to recover the rights to music he had written and that had been lifted (unknowingly or not) by Sousa and widely sold by sheet music publishers who reaped profits while Gruber received nothing. Gruber lost his battle in the courts. They ruled that he had waited too long to complain and that his music was by that time in the public domain. "The Caisson Song" was never designated as the official U. S. Army song likely because the lyrics were too closely identified with the field artillery and not the entire army. As the Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and Coast Guard had already adopted official songs, the Army was anxious to find a song of its own. In 1948, the Army conducted a contest to find an official song, but no entry received much popular support. In 1952, Secretary of the Army Frank Pace asked the music industry to submit songs and received over 800 submissions. "The Army's Always There" by Sam Stept won the contest, and an Army band performed it at President Dwight D. Eisenhower's inaugural parade on January 20, 1953. However, many thought that the tune was too similar to "I've Got a Lovely Bunch of Coconuts," so the Army decided to keep Gruber's melody from the "Caisson Song" but with new lyrics. A submission of lyrics by Harold W. Arberg, a music advisor to the Adjutant General, was accepted. Secretary of the Army Wilber Marion Brucker dedicated the music on Veterans Day, November 11, 1956. The song is played at the conclusion of most U.S. Army ceremonies, and all soldiers are expected to stand at attention and sing. When more than one service song is played, they are played in the order specified by Army regulations: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
National Emblem
A march composed in 1902 and published in 1906 by Edwin Eugene Bagley. It is a standard of the American march repertoire, appearing in eleven published editions. Bagley composed the score during a 1902 train tour with his family band. He became frustrated with the ending, and tossed the composition in a trash can. Members of the band fortunately retrieved it and secretly rehearsed the score in the baggage car. Bagley was surprised when the band informed him minutes before the next concert that they would perform it. It became the most famous of all of Bagley’s marches. Despite this the composition did not make Bagley wealthy for he sold the copyright for $25. The U.S. military uses the trio section as ceremonial music for the color guard when presenting and retiring the colors.
The Star-Spangled Banner
The national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812. The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "The Anacreontic Song" (or "To Anacreon in Heaven"), set to various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth ("O thus be it ever when free men shall stand...") added on more formal occasions. "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover. Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. "Hail, Columbia" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th Century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them "The Star-Spangled Banner."
My Old Kentucky Home
Originally titled "Poor Uncle Tom, Good Night!", and sometimes also titled "My Old Kentucky Home, Good-Night!" is the state song of Kentucky. It was published by Stephen Foster in 1853 and was adopted by the Kentucky General Assembly as the official state song on March 19, 1928.
The Washington Post
Composed by John Philip Sousa in 1889, while he was leading the U.S. Marine Band. Since then, it has remained as one of his most popular marches throughout the United States and many countries abroad. The tune became the standard accompaniment to a late 19th-century dance craze, the “two step.” In 1889 owners of the Washington Post newspaper requested the leader of the Marine Band to compose a march for the newspaper's essay contest awards ceremony. The Washington Post march was first performed on June 15, 1889 and was an instant hit. A British journalist dubbing Sousa "The March King." He is honored in the Washington Post building for his contribution to the newspaper and his country.
His Honor
Composed by Henry Fillmore. Arranged by Andrew Balent. Fillmore wrote over 250 tunes and arranged hundreds more; in addition to marches he also published a great number of tunes such as screamers, waltzes, foxtrots, hymns, novelty numbers, overtures and waltzes. James Henry Fillmore Jr. was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, the eldest of 5 children. In his youth he mastered piano, guitar, violin, and flute -- as well as the slide trombone. He began composing at 18, with his first published march "Higham", named after a line of brass instruments. Fillmore’s name is most associated with the golden age of concert, parade, and military bands. Fillmore's best known compositions include “The Footlifter,” “Americans We,” “Men of Ohio.” “The Klaxon,” “Miami (March),” “Lassus Trombone,” “(We're) Men of Florida,” “The Crosley March, “Noble Men,” “Rolling Thunder March,” “The Circus Bee,” and “King Karl King.”
Bullets and Bayonets
Composed in 1919 by John Phillip Sousa, this march pays tribute to the efforts of the U.S. infantry during the First World War. Dedicated "To the officers and men of the U.S. Infantry" Bullets and Bayonets, reflected the reality to his soldier-countrymen then fighting on the western front in World War I. To salute the efforts of the U.S. infantry in that conflict. In the composition’s trio section, one can hear the percussion beating out a staccato rhythm meant to recall machine gun fire.
Midway March
Composed by John Williams. Arranged by John Moss. Arranged for the classic World War II motion picture Midway (1976), John Williams, inspired by the reunion of American and Japanese veterans of the Battle of Midway, created one of the most riveting and powerful marches the silver screen has ever seen.
March Grandioso
Composed by Roland Seitz. Arranged by Andrew Glover. Roland Seitz (1867-1946) composed March Grandioso in 1909; its principal theme is derived from Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 14. Seitz lived in southeastern Pennsylvania and played euphonium in his local community band. He was a gifted all-around musician who played, taught and composed for a variety of instruments. He also earned his living as a printer, providing him with the unique opportunity to publish many of his own compositions.
Fanfare and Flourishes
Composed by James Curnow, Nicholasville, KY. The composition is based on Marc-Antonie Charpentiers Te Deum. Charpentier wrote Te Deum to commemorate the French victory at the Battle of Steinkerque in August 1692. James Curnow was born in Port Huron, Michigan and raised in Royal Oak, Michigan where he received his initial musical training in the public schools and The Salvation Army Instrumental Programs in these cities. He lives in Nicholasville, Kentucky where he is president, composer, and educational consultant for Curnow Music Press, Inc. of Nicholasville, Kentucky, publishers of significant music for concert band and brass band. He also serves as Composer-in-residence (Emeritus) on the faculty of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, and is editor of all music publications for The Salvation Army in Atlanta, Georgia.
American River Songs
Composed by Pierre La Plante. This work is a moving tribute to an earlier time, when our rivers and other waterways were the lifelines of our growing nation. Featuring Down The River; Shenandoah (Across The Wide Missouri); The Glendy Burk and a Creole bamboula tune.

Notes about the music courtesy of SFC James E. Wallace, 202nd Army Band, Kentucky National Guard.

202nd Army Band