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Karl L. King

February 21, 1891 - March 31, 1972
born in Paintersville, OH, composed during the Romantic period
Many listeners, at least American listeners, associate only the iconic John Philip Sousa with band music, but Karl L. King was a formidable, if less-imposing rival. He wrote many band pieces to honor schools and universities and for use at circuses, his most famous being Barnum & Bailey's Favorite.

Karl Laurence King was born February 21, 1891, in Paintersville, OH. He showed musical talent late in his childhood and began playing trombone in the Canton (Ohio) Marine Band. At the behest of his teacher he took up the baritone and found it better suited to his skills. He never had any training in theory or composition, but studied the subjects on his own and became quite a capable orchestrator.

By 17 he produced his first march; two years later he began playing baritone with the band of Robinson's Famous Circus. Within a few years he became the ensemble's director. In 1914 he was appointed bandmaster of the Sells Floto-Buffalo Bill band, holding the post for two years. During 1917-1918 he served in the same capacity for Barnum & Bailey's Greatest Show on Earth. During this time he wrote the aforementioned hit march, Barnum & Bailey's Favorite, and he also met his wife Ruth, who played calliope in the band.

In 1920, King moved his family, which now included an infant son, to Fort Dodge, IA, to serve as director of the municipal band, called the Fort Dodge Military Band. He also supported the family with a publishing company he had earlier established, while his wife operated a related business dealing in the sale of musical instruments. King, of course, used his publishing company to publish his own growing list of marches, waltzes, serenades, gallops, overtures, and rags.

Over the next several decades King provided many marches for the universities associated with the Big Ten, including Indiana, Our Indiana and Viking March. His Fort Dodge ensemble grew in prominence, too, making many tours, with appearances typically occurring at fairs and universities. King served as bandmaster of the Fort Dodge band for 38 years, retiring in 1959. He continued to make guest appearances leading other bands into the 1960s. He died in Fort Dodge in 1971, leaving an output of approximately 300 works, most (188) being marches or screamers (circus marches). ~ Robert Cummings, Rovi
full bio

Comments

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mbauerle2
Multiple tubas
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A rollicking good march,
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One of my absolute favorites... W e recently played this with the Second Time Arounders. www.secondti m e a r o u n d e r s . o r g
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At Central Methodist College, this was our official band march. You had to have it memorized and be able to play it at the drop of a hat. Our director, Kieth House, usually directed most of it in 1. So, yes it was like a big bird, very fast... We even had Merle Evans (Barnum & Bailey's ret. band director for 50 years) direct us and put it on an album.
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this also takes me back to my high school band days. Barnum & Bailey's was one of the first I had to march to, scared the living day lights out of me, lol.
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WOW...love the United States Marine Corps Band. Oooorah-Semp e r Fideils
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When I listen to Barnum & Bailey's Favorite...i t takes me back when I played in the miitary bands. What great stuff!
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peckybreeden

I think that his music is great.
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Uh; at over 140 beats per minute (or so because I am at this moment without a metronome) the band would have to have been long distance runners. Other than that, I say "BULLY!"
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Karl King is a great composer! His marches really step out.
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bargray
I played most of these marches in my younger days 60 years ago. Actually submitted by Barb's hubby.
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This is one powerful march!

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