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T R Boyer

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T.R. Boyer


Thornton Barnes Boyer (19 October 1858, Phoenixville, Penn. – 28 April 1936, Los Angeles, California) was an American composer.

T.B. Boyer began his education in music by studying composition, harmony, and counterpoint with Carl Heineman at a military school in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania. In 1880 he was hired by the J.W. Pepper Music Co. in Philadelphia. In the mid-1880s, he lived in Perrysburg, Ohio, where he met and married Ella Bailey. The couple then moved to Keokuk, Iowa, where Boyer joined the Iowa National Guard at the age of 39. He also joined the Iowa State Band of Des Moines, but, needing additional income for a growing family, he worked full time as a railway postal clerk. Boyer later conducted the Sixth Illinois Regiment Band for five years and the 50th Iowa Volunteer Infantry Regiment Band for a similar period before moving to Santa Monica, California. He continued to compose until his death in Los Angeles in 1936.

Boyer composed prolifically for the large turn-of-the-century band market. His works included 55 marches, 12 overtures, seven waltzes, five galops, five funeral dirges, and at least 16 other pieces. In the year 1879 he composed the marches All the Go, American, The Band’s Favorite, Caledonia, Defense, Escort, Hilda, In Memoriam, Juliet, Jupiter, Metropolis, Not Guilty, Onward, Patterson’s, Sacred Medley, Surprise, and Telephone. Not surprisingly, he was hired by the Pepper Music Co. in 1880 to compose, arrange, and compile music. Samples of subsequent marches include Our Honored Dead (1881, for the 373,000 Americans killed in four wars), Pres. Cleveland’s Wedding March (1886, for the marriage of the 49-year-old leader to his 22-year-old bride), Herbert L. Clarke’s Triumphal (1928), Sousa’s Triumphal, Captain Osterman’s (1931, to honor three friends), Trojan Band (1931), and 121st Field Artillery (1931).

In 1907, Boyer composed, arranged, and compiled the music for the drama Philadelphia which commemorated the 225th anniversary of that city’s founding by William Penn. Persuading the top musicians in the Sousa and Pryor Bands to temporarily forget their concert (and baseball) rivalries, Boyer added a nucleus of players from his own Iowa State Band to form a 100-member band for the performance.

Works for Winds


  • Smith, Norman E. (2002). Program Notes for Band. Chicago: GIA Publications, pp. 81-82.