King Band concert is today

Music will honor King’s career as a circus musician

-Submitted photo
In this 1918 photo, the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band stands in front of a circus rail car. Director Karl L. King is seen wearing a different hat, standing tall in the back left.

The Karl L. King Municipal Band of Fort Dodge, IA will open their 2018 indoor season with a concert beginning at 3:30 p.m. today in the Decker Auditorium at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge. There is no admission charge, with these concerts being provided by the City of Fort Dodge. Jerrold P. Jimmerson is the conductor of the Karl King Band, with Dr. David Klee serving as assistant conductor.

This concert will be the Band’s annual tribute to former conductor Karl L. King. A special afternoon of band music is being planned to include some of King’s best-known and most popular compositions, along with music that was published 100 years ago in 1918.

Karl King was born on Feb. 21, 1891 in Paintersville, Ohio. After his childhood in Ohio, he left in 1910 at the age of 19 and traveled for 9 years with several different circuses, conducted several of their bands, and reached the pinnacle of success as conductor of the famous Barnum and Bailey Circus Band during the 1917 and 1918 seasons.

The music to be performed reflects a wide variety of King’s musical styles and tastes, and was influenced by his career as a circus musician. When Karl King arrived in Fort Dodge in the fall of 1920 with his wife Ruth and young son Karl, Jr., he was already a well-established performer, conductor, composer, and publisher of band music. He continued to write music along with directing the local Municipal Band for 50 years, eventually opening his own music store and publishing business here.

Jimmerson has drawn music for this concert from several of the compositions published 100 years ago in 1918, when Karl King was a 27-year-old young man. He had traveled for four years, from 1910 through 1913, with four different circuses and had already reached the peak of his playing career as the Euphonium player with the Barnum and Bailey Circus Band, the top job of that era. The 1914 season found King being named bandleader on the Sells-Floto/Buffalo Bill Combined Shows, a position he would hold through the 1915 and 1916 seasons as well. In 1917, John Ringling hired King to lead the most famous circus band of that era, the Barnum and Bailey Circus, and he was rehired for the 1918 season as well.

Selections to be performed from 1918 include three of Karl King’s marches, “Vanguard of Democracy,” “The High Private” and “Sarasota.” This last composition was dedicated to King’s friend and employer, John Ringling. Karl King composed more than just marches, however. Also included on this tribute concert will be his overture, “The Wanderer,” a beautiful aerial waltz; “Persian Moonlight,” a serenade featuring the tuba section titled “The Octopus and the Mermaid,” and an exciting circus galop, “Emporia.”

A medley paying tribute to the most popular songs of 1917 and 1918, as arranged by M.L. Lake, is titled “Over There.” This medley includes several songs from those years that helped boost America’s morale during World War I. Also on the program will be the theme song from Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 Academy Award-winning motion picture, “The Greatest Show on Earth.”

This concert will close in the traditional way with the playing of Karl King’s masterpiece and most famous composition, “Barnum and Bailey’s Favorite March,” followed by our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In case of inclement weather, the concert may be cancelled. The next performance by the Karl L. King Municipal Band will be the annual Irish Concert on March 18 in Decker Auditorium.