Dr. Harry Begian

Dr. Harry Begian served as Director of Bands at the University of Illinois from 1970 until his retirement in 1984. He earned his reputation as an outstanding conductor and teacher during his many years at Detroit's Cass Technical High School where he developed one of the finest high school bands in the country. Begian went on to become Director of Bands at Wayne State University, a position he held for three years. Following Wayne State he was appointed Director of Bands at Michigan State University, where he also stayed for three years before accepting the position at the University of Illinois.  

I first met Karl L. King early in my career when I was Director of Bands at Cass Technical High School in Detroit.  I happened to be attending a rehearsal of the University of Michigan Band.  My good friend, William D. Revelli, was sitting out in Hill Auditorium with a frend while a guest conductor was working with his band.  Upon spotting me, Mr. Revelli motioned me to come over to where he was seated.  He introduced me to Karl King who was waiting to take over the baton later in the rehearsal as guest conductor with the university band.  I was immediately impressed by the graciousness, kindness and warmth of Karl King and feel flattered that he never failed to recognize me from that day forth.


After I moved to the University of Illinois from Michigan State, I continued my correspondence with Karl King.  Through our letter exchanges I learned that Karl was to present an 80th birthday concert with his Fort Dodge Municipal Band.  Since I had never heard Karl's band, I wanted very much to attend that concert.  In talking over my desire to attend the concert with Mark Foutch, conductor of the Foutch Band of Champaign-Urbana, I learned that he was as eager to hear the concert as I.  When I wrote and told Karl that Dr. Foutch and I, along with our wives, were going to attend his concert, he was delighted.  He asked that Mark bring along his baritone and sit in on the concert.

Karl King's 80th Birthday Concert, February, 1971, was an inspiring event which packed the auditorium and reflected the love that all of Fort Dodge and Iowa feel for Karl.  After the concert, I had a minute or two with Karl, assuring him that both Mark and I would return to visit with him this summer.  It was touching to see how pleased Karl was with our attendance at what turned out to be one of his last concerts.  All of us at the Univerity of Illinois read with sadness of Karl's passing a few months later.


When the call came from Mack Wolfson inviting the University of Illinois Concert Band to do a record to be entitled Tribute to Karl King, I was pleased.  The Crest invitation came at a bad time in our school calendar, so it was with some temerity that I asked the band if they were willing to give up a Saturday during the examination period for the recording session.  To my surprise, the band accepted unanimously, the date was set, and we were on our way.

The band spend one full rehearsal (1 and one half hours) on preparation of the fifteen items that I settled on for recording -- there was no more time to be had.  But the band's love and understanding of the march form and their conviction about the worthiness of the Karl King project were the things that made it a success. The album is, in effect, the University of Illinois Band's salute to Karl King, a great bandsman, a wonderful human being, and a composer of band music which will continue to be played and enjoyed.


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