Dedicated to promoting and continuing the Great American Concert Band Tradition since 1920.
History of the Band
The Milwaukee American Legion Band, Inc., organized in 1920 by veterans returning from service in World War I, is the oldest American Legion Band in the United States with a continuous history. Over the last 90 years the Band has been sponsored by various American Legion Posts and industries, and is now affiliated with the Alonzo Cudworth American Legion Post #23 In Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Band is organized as a 501-c3 non-proift corporation, and is governed by a Board of Directors elected from its membership.
Throughout its history, the Band has consisted of individuals representing all walks of life, and the current membership reflects a wide variety of ages and occupations. While many of the members are veterans, military service is not a requirement of membership; rather, musical ability is the primary qualification. Many of our members are professional musicians, but equally as many are employed in other vocations, and enjoy music as their avocation.
For 90 years, the Band has participated in competitions sponsored by the American Legion and other organizations. in addition to 55 State of Wisconsin American Legion Band Championships, the Band has won 4 national American Legion Band Championship awards. The Band won the International Championship award in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1934. In addition, the Band had the signal honor of being the only group allowed to perform in Germany during the 14-day mourning period following the death of Field Marshal Hindenburg.
In 1989 the Band participated in the 10th Annual Austrian Band Music Festival in Vienna, Austria, being one of 46 international bands. The Band won its division hands-down! An interesting side note is that several members who participated in the 1989 trip to Germany, Austria and Hungary (as the first US group to perform in Hungary after the meltdown of the Iron Curtain) were part of the 1934 group.
Over its 90 year history, the Band has served the Milwaukee area, the upper Midwest and the entire United States. In 1948 and again in 1951, the Band performed extensive tours of the United States.
Locally, the Band has performed in all 11 City of Milwaukee Parades, led 44 of the annual Downtown Christmas Parades, marched for over 20 years of annual Mexican Independence Day parades, performed for over 70 years as the official Band at the annual Memorial Day Services in Wood National Cemetery, performed concerts throughout the area, provided many personnel on Bandwagon Bands for the Great Circus Parade and maintained a 40-year tradition of free Concerts in the Part at the Humboldt Park Chalet on Tuesday evenings in July. The Band has performed in its entirety or in smaller groups at Summerfest, Polish Fest, Bastille Days, Fiesta Italiana, Maritime Days and the Wisconsin State Fair. It has performed in both large and small groups for church services and festivals, private and company parties, the 4th of July Fireworks, area retirement homes and memorial services. In addition, the Band performs free Fall, Christmas and Spring concerts every year.
The Band rehearses weekly throughout the year in preparation for performances during its season. These include concerts, ceremonies, processions and parades of all types, including small groups and the entire symphonic concert ensemble. The small groups consist of Band members and present all types of music.
The Band's repertoire ranges from popular music and marches to symphonic pieces. Its members are dedicated to maintaining the Great American Concert Band tradition of excellence in music and service to the community. First incorporated in 1929, the Band revised its corporate status in 1989 to become a fully not-for-profit corporation under IRS and State of Wisconsin statutes. This has enabled the organization to solicit funding from various sources to enhance its ability to perform throughout the community. The Band's sponsorship has included a 40-year period under the Blatz name by Blatz, Pabst and Heilemann Breweries, and the Wisconsin Electric Power Company (now Wisconsin Energy).
Qualified musicians 18 years of age or older are eligible to play with the Band and applications for full membership are taken from serious applicants. Upper-level high school students are eligible for junior membership. Adults returning to music are also welcome.