About the project...
In 1859, in the small mining town of Hazleton, PA, seven musicians met and formed a “German Band” known as “Gleim’s Band”. The group included; John Gleim I, John Gleim II, Simon Gleim, Justus C. Altmiller, John Lapp, George Reinhart and George Smith.
On September 13th, 1861 the band enlisted in the Union Army and became the Regimental Band of the 11th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry. During this enlistment, the bandsmen, in addition to their band duties, served as ambulance corpsmen. An instance of their devotion to duty is recorded at the second Battle of Bull Run, where their command suffered heavy losses. The bandsmen went to the battlefield and cared for the wounded.
On September 23, 1862, all regimental bands were disbanded by the War Department. Upon being discharged from service, the members returned home where they maintained their organization as the town band.
In 1864, the band re-enlisted with the 198th Pennsylvania Volunteers. When the 198th reached Washington D.C., on its way to the front, its officers called upon President Lincoln, taking the band with them. At the White House the band serenaded the president.
Upon reaching the front they were detailed on detach service and organized as the band of the First Brigade, First Division of the Fifth Army Corps, where they served until the end of the war. This division was among the forces pursuing Lee across Virginia and would eventually face him at Appomattox Court House. There is evidence that the band played at the time of Lee’s surrender. Whether or not the band played at the surrender we cannot be sure, but we do know that multiple bands played as the news of the surrender spread among the troops. Any or all of these bands may have played during the celebration immediately following the receipt of formal notification of surrender. One of the band’s assignments after the surrender was to march in the Grand Review of the victorious Army of the Potomac in Washington. There they were assigned to lead the Fifth Army Corps. Citizens of Hazleton who were spectators proudly declared they recognized the music of their hometown band before it came into view.
On June 4th, 1865, the band was mustered out of service. On their return home, the band members decided to maintain their organization as a town band. In 1866 the band headed the Liberty Fire Company of Reading, Pennsylvania, in the great firemen’s parade in Philadelphia. The band members were so pleased with their reception in Philadelphia that they decided to adopt the name of the fire company in honor of their Reading sponsors. Thus “Gleim’s Band” became the “Hazleton Liberty Band’. The Hazleton Liberty Band still performs to this day, members carrying on the tradition of the bandsmen who played before them.
The music on this recording is taken directly from the Hazleton Liberty Band books, which were rediscovered in the early 1990s after a period of many years. These handwritten books are a window to the past; many of these pieces have not been performed in over one hundred years, and have never been recorded. The original music was written over a period of many years, from the pre-civil war to several years later, and reflects the germanic heritage of the region in the various marches, quicksteps, polkas and waltzes.
We hope that you enjoy listening to this historic recording, made on Victorian Era brass and percussion instruments to give you, the listener, the authentic experience of what the music actually sounded like. Huzzah!