Frederick Fennell, arguably the most prominent conductor of Concert Wind Bands in the 2nd half of the 20th century, and unarguably the era’s most prominent Wind Ensemble advocate (founder of the Eastman Wind Ensemble), was actively involved with Tally-Ho Music Camp from its beginning. Doug Bradley recalls his parents talking about Fred Fennell being one of the people who literally built Tally-Ho. He especially loved driving a tractor around the vegetable fields of the property. Early one season before Camp opened, he spent a day atop the newly-constructed snackbar nailing down roof shingles.
First Conducted at Tally-Ho During 1951 Season
In pre-season 1948 newspaper articles about Tally-Ho’s initial season, Frederick Fennell, then listed as Director of the Eastman Little Symphony at the Eastman School of Music, was listed as one of that opening-season conductors. As events would have it, however, for reasons no longer known, he was not among the Tally-Ho conductors in the summer of 1948, Tally-Ho’s initial (and only) five-week season. Had he directed the group in concert that first season, he would have faced the band with the barn just behind the group providing some (albeit unusual) help insofar as acoustics were concerned (a bandshell at the base of the amphitheater-like hill at Tally-Ho was constructed in time for the camp’s 2nd-year opening concert).
Dr. Fennell was among the six conductors who led the Tally-Ho Music Camp band in 1951, and it was during that week in early August, under his always rapid-and-precise baton, that the band premiered a march he had composed to honor Mr. and Mrs. Bradley and the Camp, an important event chronicled below.
When the below picture was taken, Frederick Fennell appeared as a most dapper, gregarious maestro. Since he did not conduct at Tally-Ho in 1954, it is presumed that this ’54-dated photograph was made when he was attending one of that season’s Sunday-evening concerts. The back of the barn is in the background.
Both of the above photographs, showing Frederick Fennell on the podium in front of the bandshell at Tally-Ho Music Camp, were taken in the early 1950’s. Neither the right-side picture above nor the picture below is thought to have been personally signed by him, as the handwriting does not represent Fennell’s unique signature. (We surmise that the owner of the photographs simply wrote Fennell’s name on them for future reference.) Later in this website-section is a copy of part of the 1951 program when the Tally-Ho March was premiered at Camp. The signature seen there is authentic, an autograph by Frederick Fennell that a camper requested after the concert. That 1951 signature is identical to an autograph on a program that Hank secured seven years later, after being in the 1958 Tally-Ho Band when Frederick Fennell was a surprise guest-conductor during a Sunday-evening concert at Camp. Of course, he guest-conducted the Tally-Ho March (see Brochures and Programs).
Composed The Tally-Ho March
The following article has marvelous significance to all former TH-campers. There was no newspaper-name specified when the article was located; however it is thought to have appeared in the Sunday edition of the Rochester, NY, Democrat & Chronicle on August 5, 1951. (In reference, see use of the word “today” in the article, related to the concert at Tally-Ho Music Camp set for that evening, when the premiere-performance of the march occurred; see brochures and programs.) The story describes his inspirational tribute to Mr. and Mrs. Bradley’s Tally-Ho Music Camp, noting his intent to associate the march with Mr. Bradley’s instrument, writing French horn parts so that tones from that section would sound as though they came from hunting-horns. Likely extra interesting to former-campers at Tally-Ho is that the article notes that the composition was scored while Fennell was at Interlochen, Michigan.
What A Spirited Tempo He Set for The Tally-Ho March!
After its premiere, Frederick Fennell’s tribute was performed at every Sunday-evening concert at Tally-Ho Music Camp. Copies of three recordings by various bands at Tally-Ho have been found – and each can be heard here. In the first such instance, a recording made in 1951, Frederick Fennell himself conducted the band that was to give the march its first public performance at the end of the week.
During the 1954 season, the Tally-Ho band made the second recording of Fennell’s march, under the baton of Howard Marsh.
Lastly, in 1962, the Tally-Ho band performed so that a 33rpm record could be pressed. Of course, that recording also included The Tally-Ho March, with Bertram Francis on the podium.
Frederick Fennell is known for wanting marches played at a brisk pace, and as composer of The Tally-Ho March, it might rightly be concluded that the tempo he set in 1951 was “what the composer intended”. A comparison of the respective times it took the ’62 and ’54 bands to complete the march is interesting, as the ’62 rendition took 12 seconds longer than in ’54.
*The 1962 recording, Bertram Francis conducting, had a length of 3:02.
*The 1954 recording, Howard Marsh conducting, had a length of 2:50.
However, the “Original” version, the Fennell-conducted recording of the TH Band’s 1951 performance, literally charged along, taking only 2:23! That up-tempo interpretation “by the composer” was 21% faster than the ’62 rendition. WOW!
Copy of a Salute to Frederick Fennell, Issued Late In His Life
Considering Frederick Fennell’s long-and-close relationship with Tally-Ho Music Camp, and especially since his Tally-Ho March was the Camp’s “Signature Piece” for 86 consecutive Sunday-evening concerts, it is appropriate that this tribute to him is included here. The publication source is not known to us.