1st Nebraska Receives Christmas Gift

On December 10th, band leader Bill Hall received a phone call from a fellow Civil War band enthusiast in Iowa asking if the 1st Nebraska had received enough donations in the recent Washington County Gives campaign to purchase a desired period alto horn. Bill sadly replied “No, we didn’t.” To which the friend asked if the band would like to receive a donation of a circa 1870 Ernst Seltmann top-action, rotary valved, upright bell alto horn that was not in current use. Well, Bill was more than elated, especially because December 10 is his birthday!

Ernst Seltmann immigrated to the United States in 1857, from Neukirchen, Germany. He settled in Philadelphia and began producing brass instruments by 1860, where he stayed in business until his death in 1883. Most of Seltmann’s upright bell horns follow the same pattern as the above alto.

The donated alto horn has a beautiful singing tone and is very agile, accurately making large skips. The instrument has been lovingly restored and is in excellent condition. Bill put the horn to immediate use in the band’s Dec. 22nd performance at The Durham Museum.

Below is a detail photo of the alto horn’s string action rotary valve mechanism. The top action levers are easily visible, and when depressed turn the valve by way of the string’s winding movement.

The shape of Seltmann’s maker’s mark stamped into the instrument’s bell indicates an approximate year of manufacture of around 1870.

The 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band now owns 4 period cornets, and a period alto horn, tenor horn, and baritone horn. In addition the band has a turn of the 20th century E-flat tuba, and a Civil War reproduction rope-tensioned snare drum. The band is 5 instruments short of a complete collection of period instrumentation.

Soon we’ll begin posting our 2019 performance schedule that will include participating in the 150th anniverary celebration of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad in Council Bluffs, Iowa in July.

Contact us if you’d like to have the band perform in your community.


1st Nebraska Worships with Immanuel Lutheran

If you’re in the Benson area on Sunday morning November 25th, come worship at Immanuel Lutheran Church (60th and Maple) with the 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band! We’ll be providing special music for the 8:15 and 10:15 services.

Our prelude is the Renaissance carol “Gaudete, Christus est natus” or Rejoice! Jesus is born. The refrain has an infectious rhythm and the verses have beautiful flowing melodies. The anthem will be “Angels We Have Heard On High” that features a short fugal section as well as the traditional cascading lines of “Gloria.” Gustav Holst’s carol “In the Bleak Midwinter” will be played as the offertory, and the postlude is Tchaikovsky’s well-known “Nutcracker March.”

You’ll notice that we’ve broken from our Civil War music mode. Brass players love Christmas music, so, we’re broadening our repertoire to have some musical fun during the holidays.

You can also hear the 1st Nebraska at the Durham Western Heritage Museum on Saturday, December 22nd, from 1:30 to 2:00 pm as we perform the above songs plus some other fine brass Christmas music.

Join us, won’t you!

Rainy Day at Ft. Atkinson

Sunday was the annual Washington County Heritage Days at Ft. Atkinson. If you live near Omaha you know it rained. That’s really a shame for this festival that’s trying to make its mark in Eastern Nebraska. The 1st Nebraska showed up to play as planned and discovered that there was no crowd, no vendors, and a bleak atmosphere.

In spite of the weather, the band played through its music for the organizers and staffers that had to brave the rain. Fortunately, we had a tent to play under, so that when it poured we remained dry.

Here are a few photos of the day taken by one of our tenor horn players, Jeff Ingraham. Jeff can be seen in the selfie. Another photo shows alto horn player Gary MIller talking with a re-enactor from Ft. Atkinson. Interesting mix of periods, Civil War and post War of 1812. Finally, you can also see the backside of our drummers, Bruce Chapman and Carl Highman. Bruce is playing our newly purchased rope tension snare drum.

Our outdoor season has concluded, but we hope to perform some Christmas music in the area in December. Keep watching for the announcements of time and place.

Washington County Heritage Days, October 6-7

The annual Washington County Heritage Days is soon upon us. The event will again be held in Ft. Calhoun and at Ft. Atkinson on October 6th & 7th. Come out to see old time machinery, crafts, clothing, rides, and, of course, good music.

The 1st Nebraska Volunteers Brass Band will perform under the tent at Ft. Atkinson from Noon to 1:00 on Sunday, October 7th. The Fort’s cannon will signal the start of our program of authentic Civil War era music. Our musical arrangements come from the books of actual Civil War bands of both the North and the South. We’ll play lots of toe-tapping marches, polkas, and patriotic songs, plus music of popular composers of the mid-19th Century.

New this year, the band will feature it’s recently purchased rope-tension snare drum, made for us by the Florance Drum Company of Pennsylvania. The drum was hand crafted following the pattern of snare drums used in the Civil War. Four of our cornet players will be performing on period authentic rotary valve instruments, such as the one in the photo below. These instruments all help us to recreate an authentic sound of a mid-19th century brass band.

We hope that you’ll come out and enjoy the fun of an old-time fall festival and listen to our great music. See you on October 7th at Ft. Atkinson!

Concert in Stromsburg

1st Nebraska returns to Stromsburg Friday evening, July 6, 2018 for a First Friday Concert at 7:00 pm in the park on the city’s town square.

The band played last year as a part of Stromsburg’s Swedish Festival, participating both in the parade and an evening concert. We were pleased to receive an invitation to return as a part of the City’s First Friday Concert Series.

1st Nebraska will play a variety of musical styles all taken from the Civil War and middle of the Nineteenth Century. Our featured soloist is tenor James Lund who will sing a medley of Stephen C. Foster’s well known songs “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” and “Beautiful Dreamer.” The band also will play the “Coronation March from Le Prophete” and the “Firemen’s Polka” in addition to standard patriotic repertoire.

Come on out tomorrow evening for this free concert in an very enjoyable setting.

Community Band Festival

community band fest posterOmaha is going to host its first community Band Festival of the Midlands featuring some of the finest musicians in the greater metro area. The setting for the festival is the absolutely gorgeous Turner Park at Midtown Crossing in Omaha. There is a wonderful stage on which to perform and a large grassy area for the audience to sit and listen to the great music being played.

Reserve the date: Saturday, June 30, 2018 from noon to dusk. 1st Nebraska performs in the middle of the program at 3:00.