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A Winfield Music Timeline

by Joe Watts

This Article is Being Revised by Joe Watts, New Version Coming Soon!

1882 (Appx) J. S. Mann, a Winfield haberdasher, became a member of the school board. He loved music, although he couldn't read a note. He tried unsuccessfully to get the board to hire a music teacher. The board refused. Two years later he succeeded and hired a Professor of Music from New England. The man was not successful and departed.

1885 (Appx) Louis M. Gordon, a young music teacher from Indianapolis set up a studio in Winfield and began giving private after school music lessons. Later, the Winfield College of Music was formed, providing private music lessons for many children. The College became nationally known under the leadership of Archibald Olmstead.

1908 Edgar Gordon, son of Louis Gordon, after studying music in Chicago, arrives in Winfield to aid his father.

1909 (Appx) Edgar Gordon organizes a community orchestra using young people who had been studying stringed instruments privately and those who played wind and percussion instruments in a local band which had been active for a number of years.

1909 (Appx) Gordon given responsibility for teaching music in the high school. He took steps to combine the musical talent in the school with community participants with both instrumental and choral music. This approach was followed until about 1913.

1912 (Appx) A series of concerts was arranged and season tickets sold to the public. This began with the schools and gradually became a community effort. No one was paid for their participation and proceeds were used for music, instruments, etc. Professional musicians, although initially feeling imposed upon to perform for free, gradually realized that it was a community effort and began assisting. From 1912 to 1915, eighteen programs were presented to the community, some of which had to be done more than once to accommodate the crowd. Also, some were done in matinees for children at no charge.

1914 Orchestral training introduced in the public grade schools as a regular classroom subject for 60 musically inclined students, complete with classes, exams, and promotions.

1915 50 more children introduced into music studies, resulting now in a graded system with children at various levels of musical development. With this system continuing, the result was a reservoir of musical talent which would allow the development of symphony orchestras with an unending supply of talent coming up through the grades. Up to this time, orchestras could only be organized in very large cities where there was adequate talent from which to draw.

1915 Winfield won a prize of $1,000 from the Child Welfare Department of the University of Kansas for being selected as "The Best Town in the State in which to Raise Children". The judges stated that an important factor was the community music and drama programs.

1915 The U.S. Commissioner of Education requested a bulletin be prepared outlining the various music and drama programs in Winfield for use by other communities. This bulletin was prepared and submitted by Edgar Gordon.

1930 Paul Painter served as Winfield High School music director until 1944.

1941 Winfield High School won highly superior ratings in almost all categories at the National High School Music contest.

1944 During the "flood of 1944", in which the low areas of Winfield were badly flooded by the raging Walnut River, Prof. Joseph Maddy, founder of the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, arrived to direct the Winfield High School Symphony Orchestra in a rehearsal. The rehearsal took place, despite the flood and Maddy was amazed by the caliber of the orchestra.

1944 Donald Pash served as Winfield High School music director until about 1946.

1946 Earl Dungan, who had been band director at General Eisenhower's headquarters in England during WW II, arrived and served as Winfield High School Instrumental Music Director until 1951.

1951 Howard Halgedahl arrived to take over the Instrumental Music Program at WHS. Halgedahl was an accomplished bassoonist, playing first bassoon in the Wichita Symphony for many years. He also spent each summer as a bassoon instructor at the National Music Camp at Interlochen.

1953 (Appx.) WHS Symphony Orchestra performed for the Music Educators National Conference at Southwest Missouri State College, Springfield, MO.

1956 WHS Symphony Orchestra performed for the Music Educators National Conference at Ohio State University, Columbus, OH.


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