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W Paris Chambers

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W. Paris Chambers

Biography

William Paris Chambers (1854, Newport, Penn. - 1913, Newville, Penn.) was an America composer and musician. He began studying music as a self-taught individual at a young age and quickly became proficient on the cornet. From his late teens to his early forties, he became known for conducting many Pennsylvania bands, ranging from the local Newville cornet band to the bands from Martinsburg and Chambersburg that were recognized widely throughout the state. It was his virtuosic ability on the cornet, however, which made him famous, including a phenomenally high range up to the third high “C”. As a stunt, he once played a cornet solo from the summit of Pike’s Peak. He was also known to play the cornet inverted, pressing the valves upward from underneath, all while maintaining tempo.

Chambers wrote many cornet solos and almost 90 marches, many of which are considered some of the finest and most difficult works in the American march repertoire.

In the late 1890’s and early 1900’s, Chambers was manager of the C.G. Conn store in New York City, where he gave demonstrations of his great skill with the cornet for visiting musicians and others. He was truly a versatile player; in addition to his amazing range, he could play a simple melody with lovely trills in the upper reaches of the register. Very humble about his accomplishments, he would explain his amazing talents thusly: "It is all very simple, really."

Chambers became internationally famous when he traveled to Europe and Africa in 1905. He remained for more than a year, playing solos in many cities and being greeted with great acclaim everywhere.

In addition to many excellent marches, Chambers composed several cornet solos. The majority of his marches are highly distinctive and of a structure sufficiently complex to tax the resources of even the finest musicians. He also composed waltzes, quadrilles, lancers, and overtures.

Many interesting stories have been told about Chambers. Although a kind and unassuming person, he loved to add sparkle to his demonstrations. For example, he would play difficult solos with the instrument inverted (pushing the valves up instead of down). His colleague Herbert L. Clarke observed, "There are few musicians who have not performed some of his splendid compositions, all of them containing the real martial swing combined with the melodic strains, and all well arranged in a capable manner for all grades of bands."


Works for Winds


References

  • W. Paris Chambers, Wikipedia
  • Rehrig, William H. (2005). The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music: Complete CD ROM Edition. np: The Robert Hoe Foundation.