Robert Browne Hall: His Memory Marches On!

05 Dec 2014 7:56 AM | Debi Curry (Administrator)

In 1977, Thomas C. Bardwell of Richmond, Maine, set out to bring well-deserved recognition to Robert Browne Hall.  According to Bardwell, R.B. Hall was “the best writer of concert and parade band music America ever produced.” 

R.B. Hall Biography

Robert Browne Hall was a cornet virtuoso, bandmaster and composer of marches. The son of Nathaniel W. and Virginia L. [Browne] Hall, he was born into a musical family on June 30, 1858 in Bowdoinham, ME. His father played E flat cornet in a local band and was his son's first cornet instructor.

At age 19, R.B. Hall was director of the Richmond Cornet Band. His first three marches written for that band were simply known as RCB1, RCB2, and RCB3.

In 1878 Hall auditioned for J.T. Baldwin's First Corps of Cadets Band in Boston and shared the solo cornet chair with Allesando Liberati for four years. Passing up other tempting offers, R. B. Hall accepted a call to rebuild the Bangor Band. He did the job so well that a week of tribute to him in 1884 culminated with the presentation of a gold Boston Three Star Ne-Plus cornet by the grateful citizens of the city. Hall responded by writing the march “Greeting to Bangor”.

Hall was associated with several other bands including the Bangor Band, Waterville Military Band (later known as R.B. Hall's Military Band), Chandler's Band, Cherryfield Band, Olympia Band of Augusta, and the Colby College Band. During this period he took time to rebuild the "musically bankrupt" Tenth Regiment Band of Albany, NY. Hall left the Albany assignment to return to his former position in Waterville as director of Waterville Military Band. While in Waterville several of his finest marches were written. He also enjoyed great popularity throughout New England as a cornet soloist.

Besides dedicating his compositions to people and places, dedications include local characters (Uncle Dooley's Delight), newspapers (Richmond Bee, The Sentinel), and Fraternal Orders (Demolay Commandery for Knight Templars, The Redman's March for Improved Order of Redmen, Exalted Ruler for Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Independentia for Independent Order of Odd Fellows).

Having suffered a stroke in 1902 from which he never recovered, Robert Browne Hall died in poverty in Portland as a result of nephritis five years later and was buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Richmond, Maine [Find a Grave Memorial #51909306]. He left over a hundred marches and other compositions.

R. B. Hall Day Proclaimed by the Governor of the State of Maine

Official recognition of Hall and his contribution to the American music culture culminated with the proclamation of R.B. Hall Day in 1981. 

L.D. 1920 - An act to establish an R.B. Hall Day to honor and commemorate a great Maine composer as approved by the Governor, May 11, 1981

Since 1981, numerous events commemorating R.B. Hall Day have been celebrated throughout the State of Maine and continue to honor the musical genius of Maine's own Robert Browne Hall.

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