The Parade Music Prince (1867 - 1946)
From Southern York County, there has come no man whose accomplishments are as notable or whose fame promises to be as endurable as Roland F. Seitz. By his genius of composing intricate, beautiful and stirring marches, he has earned the title of Parade Music Prince, and stands as an equal with Sousa, Goldman and other masters of the march. Long after the fortunes of others are spent and forgotten, his music will be played long after the triumphs of others are over and done, his melodies will continue to brighten the lives of millions.
Roland Forrest Seitz was born appropriately on Flag Day, June 14, 1867, on a farm in Shrewsbury Township. He was the last of eight children born to William Seitz and his wife, Magdalena Ziegler Seitz. His brothers and sisters were Eli, Eliza Jane, Emanuel, Cyrus, Justina, Oliver and William.
Roland's father died when he was only 3 years old. His public school education was received at Fissel's School, the only one room schoolhouse still owned by any of the school districts comprising the Southern Joint School District, and stands as a memorial to the past at the foot of the hill upon which is perched the giant Susquehannock High School. By unusual coincidence, it was at Fissel's School where his daughter first taught after graduating from Millersville State Teacher?s College.
Upon completing his public school education, Roland was apprenticed to ?learn his trade?, according to the custom in the post Civil War period, as a printer. He learned rapidly and well, and during his teenage and young adulthood was a capable and careful employee in the printing office of the Glen Rock Item, a weekly newspaper that was published in Glen Rock until its discontinuance in 1943.
The characteristic musical inclination, which seems to flow in the bloodstream of the Seitz family and emerges in the development of enthusiastic and often outstanding musicians in every generation, was evident early in Roland?s life. As a boy his musical talent was marked, and as a young man he gave a great deal of his spare time to the study of music and the development of this talent. Levi Z. Seitz, a brother of Captain Nathaniel Z. Seitz who was the moving force in rejuvenating the Glen Rock Band after the Civil War, is entitled to considerable credit for his encouragement of Roland?s interest and ability in music. It was Levi, an older cousin of Roland, who obtained for Roland his first musical instrument, a flute, and invited him to join in the small family musicales in which Levi played a trombone and his sons played a violin and organ. Later, this small and somewhat unorthodox combination was joined by two more Seitzes with another violin and a cornet. After mastering Squire?s ?Album Number One for Beginners?, they went on to marches, waltzes, medleys, serenades, quadrilles and schottisches, which were then popular. During the time when the music making was going on in Levi?s home, Roland joined the Glen Rock Band where he played the trombone horn and later the solo B flat coronet.
At some point in his early manhood, printer Seitz resolved that his life?s work was not to be among the type and ink and presses of the printing business, but in the world of harmonious sound which is music. Unfortunately, practical considerations delayed his acting upon his decision for a number of years. Coming from a poor family who could not assist him financially, and receiving a small salary upon which he lived and helped support a widowed mother, were factors which postponed his advanced musical education until he was 27 years old.
Enrolling in Dana?s Musical Institute at Warren, Ohio in 1894, Roland worked hard and went totally without luxuries and occasionally without food to complete his four-year course. In 1898, he graduated and received a Bachelor degree. On two subsequent occasions he was awarded honorary degrees by the Institute for his accomplishments in the music world, the first being the F.C.M. in 1903, and the second being the M.A.M. in 1924. Long after Roland had left Dana?s Musical Institute, Professor Dana, the school?s founder, cited to his students Roland?s example of industry and sacrifice as the steppingstones to success.
After graduating from the Institute, Roland returned to Glen Rock and spent his full time in the field of music, teaching all instruments except strings, playing in bands, serving as director for the Glen Rock Band and bringing that group to one of its highest peaks of perfection, playing the organ at Zion Lutheran Church, traveling on concert tours, corresponding with, entertaining and meeting other musicians, composing and publishing music.
The Roland F. Seitz Music Award
In 1956 the Glen Rock Lions Club established the Roland F. Seitz Music Award. It was to be presented to a member of the graduating class of Susquehannock High School. It was initially stipulated that the winner be selected from the senior students participating in the Susquehannock music program by a committee of the high school principal and music faculty members. The student?s entire music record at Susquehannock was to be considered and the criteria were to include music service, scholarship, excellence and achievement. The student is to be deserving of the title ?Susquehannock Musician of the Year?. The Lions Club founded the scholarship to:
In recent years, since the Glen Rock Lions Club disbanded, the David Seitz Family has continued the funding for the Award. The original goals of the Lions Club continue to be the guide by which students are selected.
|Life and Works of Roland F. Seitz |
Shortly after his marriage on January 23, 1902 to Mattie Elverta Heathcote, he and his bride moved into the house at 26 Water Street in Glen Rock. It was in this house that their two children were born. His son Nevin Heathcote married Kathryn Crowe and had his medical practice in Hanover, PA. His daughter Charlotte Jane married George W. S. Zelley and resided in Schwenkville, PA until moving to Union, NJ. In the autumn of 1944, due to declining health, following the death of his wife on July 31, 1931, Roland made his home with his daughter and son-in-law in NJ. On December 29, 1946, Roland passed away at the age of 79 years, 6 months and 17 days.
He is survived by one grandson, Dr. Lee S. Zelley. Two additional grandchildren, Sally R. Seitz and Peter J. Seitz are deceased.
The bulk of Roland F. Seitz? compositions are marches, characterized by intricate instrumentation, stirring tempo and swinging melodies which echo in the listener?s mind long after the music has been heard. It was his custom to write marches for special groups or persons to whom he felt a loyalty or friendship. His Glen Rock High School March was written to provide music for a song composed by one of the graduating classes. His University of Pennsylvania March was written at the request of J. Monroe Stick who was leader of that University?s band. The two Brookes marches were written as a result of his friendship with Professor Thomas Preston Brookes, leader of the world-famous Chicago Marine band. This method of dedication was used time and time again, and often the organization or person honored is revealed by the name of the composition.
As time went on, the fame and renown of Roland F. Seitz continued to increase. His compositions were played for nationwide audiences by the way of the media of television, recordings and movies. His Grandioso, probably the best known of all his marches, was included in a RCA Victor Album played by the well-known Spring Garden Band of York, PA. Grandioso was also recorded by Paul LaValle's Band of America and the Goldman Band under the direction of Ainslee Cox. The Allentown Band recorded his Brooke's Chicago Marine Band March. All over the country, high school, community, military and professional bands have played his compositions at concerts and parades.
Although Roland F. Seitz was a mild and retiring man during his lifetime, the vigor of his work and the force of his genius promise to live on for generations. He was truly an outstanding Pennsylvanian and a great American who forged a proud tradition for Southern York County.
List of Published Compositions
The published compositions are listed below. All are marches except as otherwise indicated.A Chauffeur?s Dream (Serenade)
Ablenlied (Evening Song)
Anaconda Copper Mines
Brooke?s Chicago Marine Band
Captain W. J. Stannard
Glen Rock High School
High School Band
International Order of Red Men
Loysville Orphans? Home Boys? Band
March of the Marines
New York Journal
Spring Garden Band
Sweet Memories (Serenade)
Third Brigade Band
University of Pennsylvania