The UCLA Band Program has enjoyed national and international prominence in the band field for over six decades. On this page you will find links to historical aspects of the Program, including honors and awards earned by the Band, rosters of former and present Directors and Drum Majors, appearances in the movies and TV, and a photo gallery with over 4000 images.
UCLA Band Origins
Although a number of student-run jazz bands existed as early as 1920, the Band was established in 1921 as a military band serving the needs of the newly created Reserve Officers Training Corps on the campus of the Southern Branch of the University of California. It consisted of approximately twenty-eight musicians under the directorship of George Westphalinger. In addition to its military obligation, the band furnished music for campus functions. In 1923, the “Cub Band” was organized to serve the extra-military needs of the student body.
In 1924, Walter G. Powell became the director of both the ROTC and Cub bands. He was followed in 1925 by John Hughes, a member of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra, who remained in charge of the ROTC Band until 1935.
The Cub Band was designated the “Bruin Band” in 1926 and was reorganized under the sponsorship of the Student Council. Mr. Hughes continued as director for two years, when Benjamin Laietsky succeeded him. Each had the assistance of student directors
From 1930 to 1934, the Bruin Band was directed and managed by student officers. The student directors were Martin Ruderman, Dick Dickerson, Louis Lowe and Theron White.
In the fall of 1934, the members of the Bruin Band petitioned for the services of a faculty director, academic credit in the Department of Music, and a guaranteed trip to Berkeley or Palo Alto each year with the football team. These conditions were met by the appointment of Leroy Allen as director in September, 1934, and the granting of academic credit in the spring of 1935. The annual band trip to Northern California has been in effect to present time, except during the war-years.
The three bands of the University, the R.O.T.C. Band, the Bruin Band and the Concert Band, were placed in charge of the appointee of the Department of Music in 1935, an arrangement which is in effect today. The Concert Band was designated the University Band in 1936-37. Regular concerts were scheduled each semester, a library of concert music for band was started, and concert engagements off the campus were filled. Under these conditions the performance of the Bruin Band was greatly improved.
The lack of adequate rehearsal quarters and storage space soon became a serious problem. Various class-rooms in the men’s gymnasium were assigned from semester to semester for each of the three bands, but there were not satisfactory from the standpoints of acoustics nor seating arrangements. This situation was partly corrected in 1947-48, when a temporary wooden building was placed at the disposal of the bands and Symphonic Orchestra.
During the years of World War II, women students were admitted to the Bruin and University Bands for the first time. Their contribution, together with the men from the Naval Unit and a limited number of players from the bands of University High School and Santa Monica High School, provided for the games at the Coliseum as well as for a number of campus events. The band as a concert organization was discontinued from September, 1942, to the spring of 1944. In the fall of 1946, it regained its former peace-time position, with the return of former members and a gratifying enrollment of new and well-qualified musicians.
Charles B. Hunt and Patton McNaughton were named co-directors of the bands in 1947-48, during the Sabbatical leave of Leroy Allen. During the year the new rehearsal building was occupied. In the spring semester a concert of manuscripts music was presented, including works by Roy Harris, Boris Kremenliev, Harold Kidder and Healy Wilan. In June, 1949, Charles Hunt received his Ph.D. degree and returned to Nashville, Tennessee. Patton McNaughton continued until June, 1951 at which time Robert Fleury was appointed to the directorship.
Clarence Sawhill became Director of Bands in September, 1952, with Robert Fleury as his assistant. An influx of excellent wind-instrument players contributed to the development of the band into an outstanding concert organization. At least two programs a semester are now presented, featuring original works for band, transcriptions and manuscripts. An added feature of the programs is the inclusion of wind instrument soloists and small wind ensembles. A number of outside appearances of the band have received most favorable notice. Continuing the recent provision for paid assistance to the director, David Baskerville succeeded Robert Fleury upon his appointment at Pasadena City College in 1953. During the football season, particularly, this assistance is indispensable. In common with the other performing organizations, the occupied its new quarters in the Music Building in the fall of 1955. The factors of a rehearsal room, storage space for instruments and uniforms, and a library for its own use have been admirably planned, and enable the band to function under most advantageous conditions.
(Source: “The Origin and Development of the Department of Music at the University of California at Los Angeles, 1882 – 1956” by Leroy W. Allen)