Friday, October 26, 2012

Conn's second Sousaphone

On page six of the January 4, 1899 edition of the Portsmouth (Ohio) Daily Times, we read this:

Accessed online by the author
Given the date of the article, we can now say with confidence that the first Conn Souspahone was built no later than 1898, and the second was most likely delivered sometime the following year.

But did these two horns look identical? We don't know at this point, as I have yet to come across a photo of Prof. Dupere's prized possession. Nor have I been able to learn much about the Prof. himself - other than that he was perhaps at one time the band director at the Lima (Ohio) Central High School, and director of the Methodist Sunday School Orchestra around 1912.

Paul Bierley, in his outstanding resource, The Incredible Band of John Philip Sousa, even speculates that Dupere may have served with Sousa at one time (p. 247).

An interesting question might be where Dupere got the $250 to purchase the second Sousaphone built by Conn, which put himself on the cutting edge of band instrumentation at the turn of the century. One resource for calculating relative cost suggests that $250 in 1899 would amount to spending about $7,000 today!

And before leaving this post, did you notice that the article mentions the Sousaphone "in use in Sousa's band by Conrad"? It would seem that Conrad had become a bit of a "rock star" at that time, being casually referred to by his last name only, as if everyone would, of course, know who was being talked about. Who says that playing the Sousaphone isn't cool?!

Image courtesy of Mark Overton at saxophone.org

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