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Fred K Huffer

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Biography

Fred K. Huffer (1 January 1879, Stewardson, Ill. – 28 August 1943, Kenosha, Wisc.) was an American composer and conductor.

Huffer's family moved to nearby Shelbyville, Ill., before Fred started school. In 1889 they moved to Helena, Montana, where Fred’s father played violin and conducted an orchestra. After taking some music lessons from his father and experimenting with different instruments, young Huffer began playing the alto horn. He joined the local band at 16, and by the turn of the century he was in the Chicago area playing euphonium (and later cornet) with various bands. Because of a number of factors, including length of season, salary, and level of musicianship, the professional performers in the early 20th-century traveling bands changed employers often. Fred Huffer was no exception. In 1901, for example, he performed with Ringling Bros. Sideshow Band, Royal Shows, and W. W. Cole Dog and Pony Show. He was with Gentry Bros. Circus in 1902, 1904, and 1905; Mississippi Company Dramatic Show, 1902; Gollmar Bros. Circus, 1903; Harris Nickel Plate Circus, 1904; Great Lafayette Show, 1905; Montana movie houses, 1905 and 1906; Ward’s Cowboy Band of the Great American Circus, 1907; and Campbell Bros. Circus, 1907. Although known as an excellent euphonium player, Huffer played cornet in the 23-piece Campbell Band, conducted by Paul Gore.

By 1909 the 30-year-old Huffer was married (to Kate Jeronimus) and was ready to stay in one area for a time. He accepted an offer to lead the band of the Crane Co., a large plumbing equipment manufacturer, and also worked with a number of other bands in the Chicago suburbs. In 1911 he left the Crane Co. and formed his own organization, Huffer and His Band. Although the band held its own in competing with the large number of other businesses in the area, Huffer gradually became more involved in composing and arranging.

Huffer continued conducting bands into the late 1930s (including the St. Bernard Commandery and Medinah Shrine Bands in 1937), but he worked as an arranger for Harry L. Alford’s firm until 1914 and later wrote works ranging from the Rhythm Band Book of Toy Symphonies for Kindergarten and Primary Grades (Chart, 1929) to Sailor’s Hornpipe for woodwind quintet (Witmark, 1935). He remains best known, however, for his 30 or more marches, including the still-popular Black Jack, dedicated to Gen. John J. Pershing. He also wrote marches for military commanders of the World War, including General Douglas MacArthur and General Dwight D. Eisenhower.


Works for Winds


References

  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 304.