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Frank W. Meacham

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Frank W. Meacham


Frank W. Meacham (1856, Buffalo, N.Y. - 22 December 1909, New York City) was an American composer. He is principally remembered today for his very popular American Patrol, but during his lifetime he was best known for his original songs, his arrangements, and his willingness to ghost-write tunes for others who had more money than songwriting ability. He much preferred the money to the credit.

Frank was the third son of John H. and Mary E. Meacham, who, about 1850, had moved from Albany, New York, to Buffalo, where he and his two brothers (John A. and Edward P.) were born. The parents apparently encouraged Frank’s musical interest from childhood; at ten he wrote a song, Come Over the Sea, which was published by Chandler in Brooklyn. Although his first song, and several others which followed, did not sell very well, he finally created a hit with Down in the Cotton Fields. From then on his profession was composing (and arranging) music.

Although Meacham was advised by an anonymous New York publisher to concentrate on instrumental works, the young composer continued writing original songs and gradually turned his attention toward arranging music of other composers. By 1891, according to a Brooklyn newspaper, Meacham had “written several hundred excellent works... and is recognized as the best arranger of ballad music in the Unites States.” His first “hit” for band was a set of waltzes, written for the Gilmore Band, entitled Happy Life. The waltzes became so popular that a third edition became necessary. At Gilmore’s second request, he wrote Columbus March —in an hour’s time. The first edition of 4,000 copies was quickly sold, and a second edition was printed. His patrol march Gilmore’s Band, in the style of American Patrol, was published in 1891 by Willis Woodward and Co. of New York and was also well known. With community bands providing most of the entertainment around the turn of the century, almost every town in many areas of the United States had a band, and all were eager for new band music. After composing Columbus March, Meacham wrote a sentimental song, The Broken Heart, followed by a number of piano pieces: The Dance of the Fairies, The Allison Waltz, Sparkling Sunshine, Corita, Lights and Shadows, and After Sunset. In 1899 he dedicated K&B Grand March to the Kranich & Bach Piano Manufacturers. The Sousa Band recorded his Corn Cracker Dance in 1895. His Wing Dance Polka is currently available from Kalmus.

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