Let the Music Speak

The Norwich Story, in Music,

by Diana L. Weggler and Jacque E. Day.

Hans Christian Andersen famously wrote, “Where words fail, sounds can often speak,” and how right he was. Music transforms. It wields an influence far greater than spoken language. The story of Norwich University’s relationship with music is nearly as old as the institution. Archival records strongly indicate that Captain Partridge created the first cadet band because he felt that music was an essential component of military training. Like many of Partridge’s ideas, it was practical genius.

But Norwich’s musical heritage goes far beyond the Regimental Band. It was, indeed, a short-lived music “major” that, in 1847, first brought civilian students to campus. The first Norwich Glee Club appears in records as early as 1862. From the Estey Organ that graced the parlors of 19th-century gentleladies to the practice of live bugling that endures on the Hill to this day, music has been an integral part of Norwich culture for nearly two centuries. It is our pleasure to present you with this glimpse into the Norwich story, in music.

The Mounted Band How do you play a sousaphone on horseback? If this question has never occurred to you, you’re not alone. But to the members of the Norwich University Regimental Band in this 1937 photo, to play on horseback was a privilege and unquestioned duty. Do you remember the Mounted Band? Send your recollections to <a href="mailto:record@norwich.edu" target="_top">record@norwich.edu</a>.

The Mounted Band
How do you play a sousaphone on horseback? If this question has never occurred to you, you’re not alone. But to the members of the Norwich University Regimental Band in this 1937 photo, to play on horseback was a privilege and unquestioned duty. Do you remember the Mounted Band? Send your recollections to record@norwich.edu.

Editor’s Note: While we typically post the text of a story into the Record web pages, we believe it best serves this story to preserve its visual impact. The story begins on page 16 of the printed magazine. Read the feature as it appears in print:



Special thanks to Norwich history professor Gary Lord and C. T. Haywood ’12 for your expertise and research, and to Crystal Drown ’19 for your writing contribution. And, to Christopher R. Spencer ’96, whose paper, “The History of Music at Norwich University from 1820–1864” opened a magical window for us into that period of Norwich music history, serving as proof that your professors (in this case, Professor Lord) remember the good work you do. The Norwich Archives and Sullivan Museum and History Center provided many of the photos, documents, and artifacts pictured in this story.

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