Silas Erly Hummel (1861, Hummelstown, Penn. – 1931, Philadelphia, Penn.) was an American composer and conductor.
His parents were not musicians; they operated a general store in the town that was named for their family. As a young boy, Si, as he was preferred to be called, played drums in the Hummelstown Band. When his father began a mercantile business in nearby Harrisburg, the family moved there, and Silas joined the State Capitol Band, which at that time was led by the renowned W. Paris Chambers. Hummel took advantage of this opportunity and studied cornet with Chambers.
In 1886, Hummel moved to Philadelphia, where he played with the Washington Grays and various other musical groups. He was one of the founders of the Philadelphia Musicians Union, Local 77, of the American Federation of Musicians. He also owned a music store in Philadelphia.
Hummel organized and managed the Ringgold Band of Philadelphia [not to be confused with the Ringgold Band of Reading, Pennsylvania] and selected Thomas Ferguson as its first conductor. After Ferguson left the group, Hummel conducted the band and brought it to prominence, winning contracts for five consecutive summers at Philadelphia's Fairmount Park. He then led the Band of the Veteran Corps of the 1st Regiment, Pennsylvania National Guard, which appeared in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for five summer seasons.
During this period, Hummel was associated with many outstanding bandsmen. He also led the 75-piece band of the Philadelphia Lodge No. 54, Loyal Order of the Moose. All of the members of that band were members of the lodge and the American Federation of Musicians as well. This band was one of the finest fraternal bands in the United States at that time. It captured first prizes at Lodge conventions in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, and Milwaukee.
Hummel's nickname was "Oldsi." For several years he was a salesman for the F.E. Olds Instrument Company.
An old clipping from the Hummelstown Sun, dated January 25, 1919, tells of Hummel's band in the inaugural parade of President Woodrow Wilson, and of its exploits in Atlantic City at the Inlet and Young's Million Dollar Pier. For many years, Hummel's band led the Mummer's Parade on New Year's Day in Philadelphia.
Hummel's National Spirit is the more popular of his two known marches and was played frequently at Liberty Bond rallies during World War I. It bears a strong resemblance to W. Paris Chambers' Chicago Tribune, perhaps as an expression of Hummel's esteem for his former teacher.
Works for Winds
- Imprimis March (arr. Harris) (1917)
- National Spirit March (arr. Harris) (1917)
- Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "Silas Erly Hummel." Accessed 12 February 2017