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Charles William Bennet

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Charles William Bennet (19 March 1849, Roxbury, Mass. - 24 May 1926, Chelsea, Mass.) was an American composer, conductor and euphoniumist.

Bennet's father was a prominent Boston musician who died when Charles was only six. As a boy, he was an alto singer in the Warren Street Chapel. He later became a popular tenor, singing throughout the Boston area.

In 1863, Bennet enlisted in the Union Army in Boston as a bugler in Company D of the 56th Regiment-Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers. While in the army, he began to play cornet. Upon his discharge in 1865, he returned to the Boston area, performing with various bands there. He left Boston in 1872 to travel in the southern states. Much of his time was devoted to the study of harmony and composition and to writing vocal, band, and orchestral music. He returned to Boston in 1878, having developed into a very fine euphonium player.

His career as a tenor singer ended in 1878 when, due to repeated attacks of bronchitis, he lost control of his voice. Thereafter he devoted much of his time to composing and teaching. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1878, and his navy career spanned some 30 years. While on shore duty between 1881-1888, he played euphonium in bands and theaters in the Boston area. In 1888, he was appointed bandmaster of the U.S. receiving ship Wabash in the Charleston Navy Yard and remained in that position until 1908, when he retired. He was called back into the service in 1917. Bennet, a veteran of three wars (Civil, Spanish-American, and World War I), was very active in veteran’s affairs. He was Post Commander of G.A.R. Post No. 40 and a long-time adjutant of the post. He was also a member of the United Spanish American War Veterans and the American Legion.

After his final retirement from the navy in 1919, Bennet was a familiar figure in the town of Malden, Massachusetts, where he settled. At his home, visitors could see hundreds of letters and citations on display from prominent state and national figures congratulating him for his work with bands.

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