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Dale Harpham

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Dale Harpham


Dale Harpham (6 July 1917, Montcalm County, Mich. – 4 December 1993, Martinsville, Ind.) was an American composer, trombonist and conductor.

Harpham's family moved to Pleasant Lake, Iowa, when he was three years old. In the sixth grade, he bought a trombone for one dollar and studied music by mail-order lessons. He then began formal instruction from Worthy Tuttle, director of the Pleasant Lake town band and a retired circus cornetist. That same year, Harpham attended a concert by the U.S. Marine Band in a neighboring town and, in his own words, “promptly fell in love with the organization.” He resolved to join that band.

By the time of his high school graduation, his brother Dee had joined the Marine Band as a trombonist. Dale auditioned for the band and was accepted in May of 1935. At that time, Marine Band members were required to double on stringed instruments, so he played both trombone and cello.

He was frequently featured as a soloist on the band’s radio broadcasts and served as a narrator. He eventually became leader of the dance band, orchestra, and brass choir. In 1955, he was appointed assistant leader of the band, a position he held for over 16 years. In 1972, when Albert Schoepper retired, Harpham was appointed leader.

Harpham was elected to membership in the American Bandmasters Association in 1963 and served on the board of directors in 1970 and 1971. He also was a member of the A.B.A. Research Center Committee. He retired in October of 1974 after a 39-year career with the Marine Band. In his retirement, Harpham appeared as a guest conductor with numerous high school and college bands.

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