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TEXAS BANDMASTERS HALL OF FAME
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Col. Richard Dunn - Class of 1996
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COL. RICHARD DUNN

Richard J. Dunn, born in 1881, learned as a youngster to play the piano and the violin, and at seventeen he joined the U. S. Army to be in the military band. It was the time of the Spanish American War. He knew little about marching band instruments, but quickly learned to play the bugle. Later he took up the clarinet while serving in Cuba and the Philippines.
After the war, he studied music at the Grand Conservatory in New York City. Dunn was such a good musician that he was offered the opportunity to join the Marine Band which John Phillip Sousa had made so famous. He declined the offer because he wanted to be an Army Bandmaster, a goal he reached in 1911 when he became Bandmaster of the United States 11th Infantry Band.
When in 1924 he was contacted by the A & M College of Texas regarding a vacant Bandmaster’s position, he was a well-respected musician and bandmaster who had twenty-six years of experience with military bands. Dunn resigned from the Army and accepted a commission as a Major in the Texas State Guard. When he arrived at A & M, he was informed that the bandmaster had always been assigned the additional duty of being the college bugler. Dunn told the college officials that “He had blown enough bugles. I am the bandmaster. Someone else can blow the bugle calls.” This was the first in many changes Dunn would bring to the band program at Texas A & M.
Before World War I, the band had been limited to thirty members. When Dunn became director, he was told he could expect to direct a group of seventy-five musicians. The band grew and the increase in size resulted in part from the reputation of the director and a growing respect for the band as a musical organization. By 1942, he was conducting a 250-piece band. His era has been marked with the slogan “The Tradition Begins.”
The first use of the Block T, in the fall of 1929, stands out as the beginning of traditions initiated by Dunn. The adding of the bugle rank in 1933 was another. It was during Dunn’s tenure, that the band began to earn a national, famous status. At the time, his influence was so great that he was one of the very few bandmasters in the south to be elected to the American Bandmasters Association.
Perhaps one of his greatest contributions came in the role of composer. In 1925, he wrote the music, “The Spirit of Aggieland,” and it was first used as the Alma Mater in the fall semester of that year.
Major Dunn had been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel prior to World War II. He had built the tradition of the Aggie Band. To his men, he was The Colonel, and he set the standard of excellence for the Aggie Band.
After twenty-two years of directing the band, Colonel Dunn retired from Texas A & M in 1946. He remained active in College Station until his death in 1961.
In honor of Colonel Dunn a bronze plaque was installed in the University Center Auditorium near where rehearsals and concerts had taken place. The plaque reads:
RICHARD J. DUNN
1881 - 1961
IN MEMORY OF COLONEL DUNN WHO WAS BANDMASTER
OF THE TEXAS AGGIE BAND FROM 1924-1946,
DURING WHCH TIME HE COMPOSED THE MUSIC TO THE
“SPIRIT OF AGGIELAND”
HE WAS GREATLY BELOVED BY THOSE WHO SERVED UNDER HIM.


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