8,953 Composers, 54,856 Titles And All That Brass, In 2 Volumes

February 09, 1992|By Lisa Wiseman

If nothing stirs your blood like a Sousa march, there's a book for you -- the Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music.

If you've ever wondered who wrote the Louella Quickstep or the Brooklyn Public Library March, you can now find that the composers were A. Jackson and Elizabeth Marble Brennan, respectively. There's even a listing for Satan (nofirst name is listed), who composed Trauermarsch in 1946.

The encyclopedia, the result of 12 years of research by William Rehrig of Joppa, a middle-school band director, is the first comprehensive listing of band music. The encyclopedia includes 1,087 pages, 8,953 composers and 54,856 titles.

Rehrig says he wrote the book because it's virtually impossible to find information about band music in normal reference materials -- something he attributes to "a snob factor" that considers band music a poor man's orchestra.

"I was raised in a house where jazz was filthy and dirty," said Rehrig, whose father played the trumpet for the Philadelphia Orchestra and whose mother was a violinist.

As a child, Rehrig would attend band performances in parks. "I just fell in love with the stuff," Rehrig said.

Rehrig, who teaches music at Franklin Middle School, spent evenings and weekends compiling data on the the big names in band music, such as John Philip Sousa, who wrote more than 280 works, to the likes of Algie Faris, whose only claim to fame was the Spirit of Youth March in1951.

Rehrig, 53, and his wife Toni, have two daughters, Mary, 22, and Lydia, 17, a senior at Joppatowne High. "This whole thing had it's genesis when I got mad at an article on a piece of band music that was being advertised," Rehrig said. After reading the article, which appeared in the Instrumentalist Magazine, he couldn't find any moreinformation on the music or the composer.

"I just couldn't understand why they would write about something that no one had any information on."

Rehrig wrote a letter to the editor of the magazine, whoput him in contact with Robert Hoe Jr., a

music enthusiast and band historian, known to have an extensive collection of recordings, sheet music and biographical information on composers. The two quickly began corresponding.

Hoe produced a series of 263 recordings of band music, donating the albums to libraries, schools and a circle of friends Hoe called his "clan."

The recordings sought to document and preserve lesser-known composers. Since the biographical informationon the record jackets usually were written by Hoe's "clan," Rehrig became a regular contributor, researching information and arranging music.

Hoe and Rehrig sorted through thousands of uncataloged piecesof band music in the basement archives at the Library of Congress. Together, they went through more

than 6,000 boxes to locate music that was not indexed, and the work became the foundation for a book.

After Hoe was approached by a publishing company in Florida, he brought Rehrig in on the project. "I was the funnel through which everything flowed," Rehrig said.

"The majority of the work was seeking out the composers. Somebody would send something about a composer theyknew of, and I'd say 'What can you tell me that they wrote?' "

In1983, Hoe died, and the Florida publisher soon decided to cancel thethe book. But that didn't stop Rehrig, who continued compiling data,hoping to fulfill Hoe's dream.

In 1984, Integrity Press, a small Ohio publishing house, approached Rehrig about continuing the book. "It was then that they gave me the most chilling report," Rehrig said."They told me 'It's not complete.' "

And so his research continued.

"I don't want to depress myself," Rehrig said, "But I have spent 12 years of my leisure time on this." As a teacher, Rehrig has directed bands at Golden Ring Middle School, which recorded a piece for Hoe's series, Parkville High and now at Franklin Middle School, all inBaltimore County.

For someone who has devoted a major part of hislife to scholarly study, Rehrig likes the challenge of working with young musicians. He doesn't mind cringing as a seventh-grade oboist stumbles through a rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever."

"A professional musician is a servant to his music, he said. "When you're aschool conductor, you have to put the student before the music.

"I have to think about whether my trumpets are strong enough -- how good my clarinets are. Conducting a school band is a matter of knowing your group's abilities and potential. If I get frustrated, then it's because Johnny and Mary Sue aren't practicing or I've chosen the music incorrectly."

Integrity published Rehrig's book last year in a two-volume set, selling for $110. About 75 percent of the first printing of 1,500 has been sold. A second printing is in the works, but sales aren't what's important to Rehrig.

"This is not the kind of book you're going to find on the shelves at B. Dalton," he said.

"This appeals to a narrow margin who appreciate band music."

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