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MMD > Archives > September 1999 > 1999.09.09 > 05Prev  Next

Repasz Band
By Matthew Caulfield

Gayle and Dennis Fixler wrote:

> Mr. Caulfield,
> Thank you for the information.  I am, however, having a very difficult
> time (using the internet) finding any information on the Repasz Band.
> Any suggestions or sources will be appreciated!

I assume that what you want now is information about the band itself.
For something like this the Internet, for all its marvels, isn't your
best source.  Prowling around a good-sized research library would be more
productive.  But, failing that, what I'd do is contact the folks in
Williamsport, Pa.  I have talked in the past to the city historian.  The
Loyalsock Township News publishes in Williamsport and has an online
edition of its paper, which just happens to mention that the Repasz Band
was scheduled to give its summer band concert at Bruce E. Henry Park on
August 3 (rain date Aug. 5)!  So -- surprise to me -- the Repasz Band
apparently still exists in some re-incarnation or other.  If you could
get the name of the band's director from the newspaper (phone
717-323-6151; fax 717-323-1437), I'm sure you'd be on your way to
whatever information and history you desire.

Matthew Caulfield

P.S. The Internet did give up this information about the band in a
listing of community bands I found by using Hotbot:

    Repasz Band, 1831.  Williamsport, Pa., USA  70 members.  Albert J.
    Nacinovich, director, 387 Sawmill Road, Cogan Station, PA 17728.
    email contact: Nancy Eischeid (

P.S. From Library research, here are some quotes from Wm. H. Rehrig's
"The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music" (3 v.; LC record
no. 91-1073637), p. 460-461:

"LINCOLN, HARRY J. (1878-1937); SWEELEY, CHARLES C. (1879-1931); THE
VANDERSLOOTS.  In all of band music history, there is no more confusing
situation than that surrounding the life and works of the American
composer Harry J. Lincoln, and the relationships he had with other
musicians from the Williamsport, Pennsylvania, area: Charles C. Sweeley
and the Vandersloots [composers and music publishers]. Many composers
have used pseudonyms, but the pseudonyms were usually fictitious.

"Lincoln published music under his own name, as well as such pseudonyms
as Abe Losch.  He also used the real names of several members of the
Vandersloot family on music he composed. ... The confusion is compounded
because he also sold some of his original compositions to others who put
their own names on the printed music."

There follows here a biography of H.J. Lincoln and sketch of his
relationship with the F.W. Vandersloot Pub. Co., which he bought out in
1929 and moved to Philadelphia.

"Charles C. Sweeley was born on a farm in Lycoming County, near
Williamsport, on March 15, 1879.  ...  In his early twenties, Sweeley
took up residence in Williamsport, becoming a partner in the firm of
Sweeley and Brown, a music publishing business.  As a musician, he was a
noted instructor and performer.  He played trombone with the Repasz Band,
the Imperial Teteques of Baldwin 11 Commandery, the Knights Templar Band,
and the Amazon Lodge IOOF Orchestra. ...

"There is reasonable doubt that Sweeley composed all of the sixty or more
works bearing his name.  One composition, which is the center of a highly
controversial matter, is the authorship of the famous 'Repasz Band
March.'  It might never be determined who actually composed it.  The
original band edition ... copyrighted by Sweeley and Brown in 1901, shows
Sweeley as composer and Lincoln as arranger.  A later transfer of rights
is documented in papers owned by Sweeley's heirs.

"As mentioned above, there was a theory that Lincoln was using Sweeley's
name as a pseudonym.  This was seemingly borne out by the fact that on
file in the Copyright Division [i.e. Copyright Office] of the Library of
Congress, the following information is recorded: 'Repasz Band March and 2
Step, #9756, Copyright July 2, 1901, by Sweeley Music Co.'  The renewal
by Harry J. Lincoln on July 2, 1928, as well as the original 1901
copyright entry, shows this pencil notation: 'by Charles C. Sweeley
(Pseudonym of Harry J. Lincoln, arr. by H.J.L.)'  The appearance of
pencil notations on copyright cards is not commonplace and the notations
could have been made by personnel of the Copyright Office who were given
incomplete information.

"Late in 1978, William Lichtenwanger, retired head of the Reference
Section of the Music Division of the Library of Congress, discovered the
following affidavit in a correspondence file at the Library of Congress
(file subsequently discarded): 'AN AFFIDAVIT FOR THE REGISTER OF
COPYRIGHTS ["Register of Copyrights" is the title of the head of the
Copyright Office], State of Pennsylvania, County of Lycoming, SS. On the
second day of October Anno Domini 1928, before me, an alderman in and for
the state and county aforesaid, personally appeared Charles C. Sweeley,
who, having been duly sworn according to law, deposes and says that he is
not the author (composer) of the composition entitled "Repasz Band" March
Two Step, and that the composition was written, composed, and arranged by
Harry J. Lincoln, formerly of Williamsport, Pa., but now of Philadelphia,
Pa., and that said march was only purchased by me for a certain amount of
money, that I may insert my name thereon as composer of the same, to the
end of the first copyright term.  Name: Charles C. Sweeley (signature).
Address: 1015 High St.  City: Williamsport, Pa.  Subscribed and sworn to
before me this second day of October 1928. (signed) Daniel Keeler,
Alderman.  My commission expires first Monday in January 1932. (notary

"This evidence would seem to leave little doubt that Lincoln was the
actual composer of the 'Repasz Band March.'  Moreover, an article
entitled 'Romantic Story of the Repasz Band March,' printed on the inside
cover of the march at the time of the copyright renewal, states
emphatically that it was composed by Lincoln, not Sweeley.  The article
explains that Lincoln had composed it five years before it was published,
that he had been badly in need of money, and that he had been offered a
flattering price ... to permit Sweeley's name to appear on the music as
the composer."

Rehrig goes on to say that the Sweeley family ordered a handwriting
analysis on Sweeley's signature on the affidavit and believe it was
forged, a position Rehrig doubts because of the strict Federal laws
against falsification of copyright documents.  There is much more
information on Lincoln, Sweeley, and the Vandersloots (including a
similar confusion as to authorship of "Midnight Fire Alarm," variously
ascribed to E.T. Paull or to Lincoln).

H.J. Lincoln did compose and publish the 1929 "Repasz on Parade" march,
it should be noted.

Information on the Williamsport band for whom "Repasz Band" was written
(and was used as the band's signature march) ought not be hard to find,
as the Repasz Band was a famous and prize-winning band in its day.

Matthew Caulfield

 [ Matthew,  Thanks for you "review" of "The Heritage Encyclopedia of
 [ Band Music.  Your other message in this Digest suggests that a good
 [ research library is still the way to go.  I'm curious:  how rare
 [ is this book ?     -- Jody

(Message sent Fri 10 Sep 1999, 00:45:56 GMT, from time zone GMT-0700.)

Key Words in Subject:  Band, Repasz

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