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The History of
The Lyric Band

The Lyric Band of Hanover, PA Inc. was organized in 1932 and held its first meeting and rehearsal, November 15 1932, with 16 musicians in attendance. The band’s first headquarters was in the Parkville Fire Co. hall, 889 Baltimore St. in Hanover. Harry W. Swartzbaugh was appointed first conductor.

In 1933, headquarters were moved to the former Melhorn building, now the site of the present Wachovia bank. In the winter of 1936, the Lyric Band began weekly radio concert broadcasts on WORK-AM and WHVR-AM. These broadcasts continued until 1964. In May of 1938, the band purchased its present headquarters, the former YMCA building at 20 York Street.

After the Lyric Band purchased the old YMCA building on York Street, they opened a very successful social club.  They held weekly music events, served meals and brought in guest artists to perform.   It was one of the biggest nightspots in Hanover in the 1940’s and 1950’s.   The building also served as the office of the American Federation of Musicians Union until the 1980’s.

On April 19, 1939, the band was incorporated by the Courts of York County as a non-profit organization to be “A medium of instruction for the purpose of bettering all who are connected with it, both individually and collectively; and, further to promote a musically minded spirit in the community”.

In 1955, Harry Swartzbaugh died, and was replaced by his son, Harry E. In 1962, the Hanover High School Band Director, Bruce Wiser, was appointed conductor. In 1983, Bruce Wiser left the Hanover Area for other employment. Kevin Baum, Jeff Baker, and James Hughes shared conducting duties, along with many guest conductors. In 1990, Edward Gobrecht, Jr. a former member of the band and Professor of Music at Ithaca College, was appointed director of the Band. Dr. Galen Leitzel was appointed Musical Director in May of 2001 and Edward Gobrecht was awarded the title of Director Emeritus. Dr. Leitzel continues in his post to this day.

In the early years of the band, concerts were played at the Eichelberger High School, the Park Theater (formerly the Hanover Opera House) and the State Theatre of Frederick Street. Since 1969, Sunday evening concerts have been presented every summer at the Codorus State Park – Lake Marburg.   In 2002, the Band celebrated its 70th Anniversary by returning to the Eichelberger stage after a 60 year absence. Col. Bryan Shelburne, former conductor of the U.S. Army Band (Pershings Own), served as Guest conductor. This revived the tradition of a Spring Concert for the Lyric Band. The Band returned to the Eichelberger to celebrate their 75th Anniversary. From 2007 until 2010, the band did exchange concerts in the summer with the New Holland Band, a tradition that had ended in 1980.

The band participates in all the of the community Memorial Day ceremonies and has also performed in: Tower City, PA; Bryn Mawr, PA; New Holland, PA; Washington, DC and Stanton, West Virginia. Guest Artists who have performed with the Lyric Band include: Oscar Short, cornetist with the US Navy Band; William Cameron, Harpist with the US Navy Band; Donald McCatheren, clarinetist and former Professor of Music at Duquesne University; James Burke, former cornetist with the Band of America; Emerson Head, trumpeter and former Professor of Music the University of Maryland; Scott Nelson, trumpeter and Professor of Music at Shenandoah Conservatory, William Dupree, tenor vocalist with the US Air Force Band, and; Dr. Michael Burritt, percussionist and Professor of Music at Northwestern University.