Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Seeing this Conn Monster today

Along with the horn I played up at Interlochen, there are a few other examples of Conn's latest "Monster Sousaphone" - the improved model first seen in 1903 - that are still around today. They are considerably later than the Interlochen horn, but they look pretty much the same.

Here's one said to have been built in 1922 that is on display at Taylor Music in Aberdeen, SD, where it has been for the past 50 years:

All photos of this horn courtesy of Paul Schmidt
And, yep, this old horn not only looks fantastic for its age; it's also ready for action, as you can see:

According to the folks at Taylor, this Sousaphone was built in 1922 for John Kuhn, who played in Sousa's Band from 1915-1920, and was known as "Chief Red Cloud," which might explain the engraving on the bell:

Here is Kuhn that same year (1922) with Isham Jones and his Orchestra, holding what may possibly be the very same horn (other photos show him with a smaller three valve horn, but this appears to be a four valve "Monster"):

Photo found at Isham Jones Wikipedia site

At the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music, based at the University of Illinois, there is a very similar "Monster" from around that same time. The serial number is 208098, which places it around 1924 (according to the Conn Loyalist website), and records indicate that, at the very least, this Sousaphone was played in the University of Illinois concert and marching bands in the 1930s:

All photos of this horn were graciously provided by the Sousa Archives

One of the great things about this particular Sousaphone is that it still has its original case, giving us a better idea of what it was like to travel with such a large instrument. I'm told that the case with the horn in it weighs upwards of 150 pounds!:

Finally, a recent post on TubeNet revealed that at least one more of these "Monsters" is floating around out there - last seen a few years ago at the Disneyland Tuba Christmas:

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