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Frank Simon

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Frank Simon


Frank Simon (26 November 1889, Cincinnati, Ohio – 28 January 1967, Columbus, Ohio) was an American cornetist, conductor, educator and composer.

Shortly after Simon was born, the family moved to Middletwon, Ohio. His first instrument was the flute, but in 1901, at age 11, he began the study of cornet with Q.C. Buckles, director of the Middletown Municipal Band. When Buckles moved away, Simon conducted the band until 1909. During that time, he studied cornet with William J. Kopp of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and also played cornet with Kopp’s Military Band of Cincinnati and with the orchestra of Sorg’s Opera House in Middletown.

In 1905, he became a student of Herman Bellstedt, the celebrated cornet soloist and arranger of Sousa’s Band, who helped him develop into a cornetist of artist stature. Bellstedt dedicated many of his cornet solos to him.

Simon was named cornet soloist of Kopp’s Military Band in 1909, a band which had Henry Fillmore and other noted Cincinnati musicians on its roster at the time. From 1912-1914, he performed with Weber’s Prize Band of America, making two tours of the West Coast. During the winter season of 1912-1913, he also played in the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra under Leopold Stokowski.

In 1914, Bellstedt recommended Simon to John Philip Sousa. He was accepted without audition and became the stand partner of the legendary Herbert L Clarke. When Clarke retired three seasons later, Simon assumed his position as cornet soloist and assistant conductor. He remained with Sousa until 1920, when he was released due to a misunderstanding. During World War I, while Sousa was supervising U.S. Navy bands at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station, Simon became bandmaster of the U.S. Aviation School in Fairfield, Ohio. From 1919-1931, he also conducted the Antioch Temple Shrine Band in Dayton, Ohio.

The American Rolling Mill Company (ARMCO) prevailed upon Simon to organize and conduct an employee’s band in 1920. With monumental effort, he molded the band into a reputable organization, meanwhile organizing a symphony orchestra and a chorus as well. Only the band was successful, however, and in 1925, radio programs over two Cincinnati stations, WLW and WSAI, were initiated.

After several eventful seasons during which the ARMCO Band performed in several states and at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, it was dissolved due to the depression in 1929. Simon then persuaded ARMCO to continue sponsorship of the band using only professional musicians on a part-time basis. Weekly radio broadcasts were begun over WLW. By 1932, these Iron Master broadcasts had become a regular Sunday afternoon feature of the NBC Blue Network. These popular programs were broadcast regularly from 1929-1939, at which time the band was disbanded, presumably because of the pressures of World War II.

Simon began a career in music education at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 1930, founding the band and instrumental departments. In 1949, he also became a faculty member at the Cincinnati College of Music. He retired in 1955 and moved to Tucson, Arizona, due to poor health. In 1956, he was appointed visiting professor of brass at the University of Arizona, a position he held until 1965 when he donated his massive band library to the university and moved back to Cincinnati. That same year, he was named conductor emeritus at the University of Cincinnati. [The Cincinnati Conservatory of Music and Cincinnati College of Music merged in 1955 and became part of the University of Cincinnati in 1962.] During his many years as a music educator, numerous students who later became famous passed through his sphere of influence.

Simon received many awards during his lifetime, including honorary Doctor of Music degrees from the Capital College of Oratory and Music (Columbus, Ohio) [not to be confused with Capital University, also in Columbus] in 1930 and the University of Cincinnati in 1966. Among his other awards were the Medallion of Merit from the University of Arizona (1960) and the Edwin Franko Goldman Award from the American School Band Directors Association in 1965.

Simon’s influence on bands was also felt through his dedicated service to the American Bandmasters Association. He was a charter member (1930), its president (1935-36), and was named honorary life president in 1962. He also held memberships in Phi Mu Alpha, Kappa Kappa Psi, and Pi Kappa Lambda.

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