CARL MCCOMB LOBITZ
A talented musician who was frequently recognized with solo and first chair positions, Carl Lobitz could have enjoyed a life in musical performance; but his greatest passion for music was as a teacher, not as a performer.
Carl was born to Carland Catherine Lobitz in Columbus, Ohio. His mother, Catherine, was a musician and studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. She taught piano and voice at Louisiana Centenary College. As accompanist and motivator, she was a great influence to her son. Carl’s father was 1st Lieutenant, World War I, Balloon Corp. Camp John Wise, San Antonio.
Carl attended Weslaco High and began to develop his love for band under director Joseph Bellamah. In surplus wooden barracks, the Weslaco Band was a magnet of musical excitement. Carl began the study of trombone privately with Joe Bellamah, who returned to his home in New York City each summer to get the latest trombone literature, such as the Blazhevich Clef Studies and the Melodious Etudes of Rochut. Summers were spent in trombone study with Simone Mantia, New York; Frank Crusifulli, Chicago; and National Music Camp, Interlochen, Mich. He was a member of the Texas All State Band, and first chair, four years.
Carl was invited to attend the University of Texas at Austin, and as a motivation to do so, a faculty brass quintet was formed to include him. The group included Clifton Willams, horn, and Bernard Fitzgerald and Frank Elsass, trumpets. At UT he was featured soloist in the UT Symphonic Band at TMEA in Mineral Wells in 1951. During college he was principal trombone for the Austin Symphony.
After Korean War service in Army bands, he studied at Eastman with Emory Remington. Not wanting to pursue the road of a professional musician, he tried a band job in Cuero as assistant to Bill Wendtland. It was an instant success. He loved teaching, band music and kids. He found it impossible to get to the band hall fast enough each morning.
A fruitful summer at Vandercook in Chicago included study with H.E. Nutt, Haskell Harr and Forest Buchtel.
West Texas beckoned and his new position was at Cowden Jr. High in Midland where he met a local elementary music teacher, Virgina Sanders. They married and moved to Odessa.
Odessa in the ‘60’s was Camelot for him; a perfect time and place in which to be a band director. He was young and new to the profession. Life revolved around the band hall with marching and concert contests. He literally poured himself into the job! With 100 beginners, a marching band of 150 members, no assistant directors and no private lessons, it was still heaven on earth! Notable contest compositions performed in Odessa were Inglesina, Fanfare and Allegro, and Lincolnshire Posy. The Crockett Band won many honors.
At the invitation of Gene Braught, he became assistant director of the University of Oklahoma Bands and low brass teacher while earning his doctorate. He began the 20 member Trombone Choir and composed a “symphony for Trombone Choir”. They experienced many thrilling half time shows and a trip to the Orange Bowl. From OU, he accepted a new position as assistant professor of music and director of bands at Montana State University. His responsibilities included marching, concert, jazz bands, low brass teacher and method classes.
He started summer marching workshops for high school directors with Bill Moffit as clinician. He built the marching band from 50 to more than 100 members. Applying for and receiving National Arts Council Grants, he began concert band festivals in which high school bands performed; soloist for the festival was Fred Hemke. He also began jazz festivals for high school bands with soloists Louis Bellson, Bobby Herriot and Rich Matteson.
Positions in which he served the profession included president of the Montana Bandmasters Association and president of the Montana Chapter of National Jazz Educators. He was guest conductor, Montana All State Band.
Returning to Texas he directed the McCollum High School Band in San Antonio. In 1983 all San Antonio bands competed together in one marching contest – the best of five bands was selected, with a runoff in the evening. The five were McArthur, Clark, Lee, Roosevelt and McCollum. Performing one of the most challenging marching shows involving seven rotations, the McCollum Band, with a supreme effort, went over the top and was chosen with McArthur to go to state marching contest. The band and its director received a Texas Legislature Commendation for Minority Achievement. Senator Frank Tejeda was the person in Austin who sponsored this award. Carl always felt he had helped a south-side band achieve a truly exceptional honor.
The McCollum Concert Series brought guest clinicians and conductors William Revelli, Robert Reynolds and J.R. McIntyre.
The last position Carl filled was assistant director, Holmes High School, where his concert and jazz bands won numerous awards.
Following retirement and 39 years as a director, Carl has played trombone and euphonium solos with many groups, his brass quintet, and as a jazz soloist in San Antonio. His private students include Jonathan Lombardo, principal trombone, Buffalo Philharmonic.
His purpose was always to impart his love for music to students. “I would like to thank, above all, my wife, Virginia, for all her support these many years,” said Carl. “All my students deserve my grateful appreciation for their achievements. My two sons, Carl and Lawrence, and my four grandchildren also deserve my thanks.”