Uncle Frank Piersol
West High School, Waterloo
Director of Bands at Iowa State University (1948-1967)
University of Iowa (1968-1980)
I never met a more genuine person than Karl - no pretense, no false modesty - and a heart as big as a barn. He would take time to visit with the young and inexperienced members of the Iowa Bandmasters Association with a "fatherly" concern for their problems. It was impossible to know him and not realize that this was a truly great man.
I remember Karl King as being all up front; you always knew where he was coming from! He had some pithy remarks.
He was a monumental figure in the development of band music, and yet the most modest and unassuming person you could imagine. He had no tolerance for the "contemporary" music which was beginning to appear during his later years and spoke out frequently about it. He liked music that had a melody and hated the discordant sounds that were appearing in the music of the current composers. He used to chide me and my contemporaries in the college ranks for living "in our ivory towers". He once told me that with the money we were spending on one contemporary selection, we could purchase music for an entire concert from his catalog. These remarks were always made with a "twinkle in his eye", but he left little doubt that he meant them to be taken seriously.
He liked his band to have a solid sound. He once told me, By God, when my band plays pianissimo, you can hear them!
Concerning a trend which Karl didn't follow,
Any director who opens a concert with "Come, Sweet Death" should get his wish!