A Tradition Since 1843

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The Edwardsville municipal band has been around for More than a century and a half and is still going strong with over 65 members.  Every summer, the band participates in the Edwardsville Arts-in-the-Park series and holds free weekly band concerts every Thursday at the Edwardsville City Park Bandstand.  The band also performs at various official functions throughout the year.  Band concerts in City Park by the Library in Edwardsville have been a mainstay of the town’s musical life for over 150 years.  The summer band concerts held each Thursday evening on the bandstand during the summer have been enjoyed by town residents and visitors from all over.  Children come to play and listen, families come to meet and catch up on the week’s events and new and old friends renew their friendships as they enjoy band music by modern composers and the great giants of the past.The roots of the modern Edwardsville Municipal Band go back as far as the 1840’s.  Concerts in the park were performed as early as 1885.  The Enterprise Band, 23 members strong, made up the first direct descendent  to today’s 75 piece band.  In 1899, Local 98 of the American Federation of Musicians was organized in Edwardsville and since then band members have been unionized and are paid for summer concerts. In 1927, a band tax was passed at the state capital in Springfield, authorizing municipalities to pass a band tax and Edwardsville did pass that tax in 1927.  Other towns like Wood River, Highland, Alton, Collinsville, and Belleville also had bands and some folded in later years but the Edwardsville band has continued to play.  In the 1950’s, women were allowed to become playing members.  Nancy Hoffman, principal clarinetist with the band now, was one of the first female players in her first year in 1957.  One of her relatives played in the Schwartz band of the 1800’s which merged with the Enterprise Band and in 1927 became known as the Edwardsville Municipal Band.  The band had several directors but two with the longest tenure have been Cleaon Etzkorn for which the current bandstand was named.  He served 25 years as euphonium player and 25 years as director.  Currently, Mary Ann Davis, is the conductor for the group.  She started in 1964 as a euphonium player and was appointed director in 1984.Over the years, the band has increased its membership to meet the modern concert band demands and the audience has steadily grown in size.  The Municipal Band boosts a large library of music and an inventory of instruments and has graduated to its own building to house its equipment.Music for the group comes from modern wind band literature, light classics and popular music of yesteryear and today.  Audiences clap the loudest for big band sounds, musicals, and their favorite ballads.The Edwardsville Municipal Band audiences represent people from all over Madison County.  With the support of the City of Edwardsville, it continues to enhance and entertain the people it serves.*Some information provided from Intelligencer article of July 6, 1999.


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