Simone Mantia (6 February 1873, Sciacca, Italy – 25 June 1951, Flushing, N.Y.) was an American baritone horn/euphonium virtuoso, trombonist, and band manager.
In 1890, at the age of 17, he immigrated to the United States along with his family. He would spend much of his life in and around New York City, performing in many ensembles and also teaching privately.
Mantia began, like many Italian baritone masters, playing alto horn at the age of 9. At age 12, he started lessons on valve trombone and the larger baritone horn. By the time he arrived in New York, he played with sufficient proficiency to earn a living in music. He jobbed initially with groups including the Jules Levy and Schneider Bands on baritone/euphonium and the Brooklyn Opera on valve trombone – switching to slide trombone in only a week when so required to keep the gig.
In 1895, he replaced Josef Michele Rafayollo, with whom he had been studying, as soloist with the Sousa Band. This was the first nationally known ensemble he performed with, and one of only two in which he played euphonium primarily. As a trombonist, he later took jobs with other nationally ranked ensembles including New York's Metropolitan Opera, which he joined in 1908 and remained involved with for 37 years, performing under many legendary conductors including Arturo Toscanini. He also played trombone with The New York Philharmonic, The NBC Symphony, The Chicago Lyric Opera, The Philadelphia Grand Opera, Victor Herbert's Orchestra, and the Arthur Pryor Band in which he primarily served as baritone/euphonium soloist and assistant director (often referred to as Pryor's "second in command").
Mantia held many jobs in music beyond that of performer. He left the Sousa band with Arthur Pryor to help Pryor found and run his group. He served as manager for the Metropolitan Opera for many years. Like all performers, he also took private students, though a student recalled him as "not very good at all" when it came to teaching those less gifted than himself.
Simone Mantia was the first master of euphonium to work in the era of recorded sound. As a result, he left a legacy of recordings that have been reproduced into the twenty-first century. He recorded as euphonium soloist on several Sousa and Pryor band recordings. He also soloed with the NBC Symphony on recordings as a trombonist. He recorded primarily on the Edison Records and Victor Talking Machine labels. His recorded legacy extends even to YouTube where a recording of Mantia playing a euphonium solo titled Priscilla, which he wrote and dedicated to Sousa's daughter of the same name, can be heard.
In addition to performing and managing, Mantia also composed and arranged. His solos include The Southerner, Priscilla, Fantaisie Original, Auld Lang Syne and the oft-parodied by Looney Tunes Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms.
Works for Winds
- Believe Me if All Those Endearing Young Charms (rev. Howey) (1908?/1996)
- Coming Thro' the Rye (1921)
- Dance of the Honeybells (1906)
- Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground (1913)
- My Old Kentucky Home (1921)
- Old Folks at Home (1921)
- Original Fantasie (1909)
- Priscilla (1921)
- The Southerner
- Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Simone Mantia." Accessed 26 May 2019
- Simone Mantia, Wikipedia Accessed 26 May 2019