Arthur Lehman Remembrances
Arthur W. Lehman – A view from within the United States Marine Band by D. Michael Ressler
On Friday, June 19, 2009, the United States Marine Band lost one of its greatest members and friends. Arthur W. Lehman, a member of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Band from 1947 to 1971, died after a battle with pulmonary fibrosis. Although he retired from the Marine Band in 1971, he never really left. His influence continued to be felt long after his retirement, and his name was legend to both those who had worked with him and to those who had only heard of him. When I joined the band in 1974 I knew the name but I didn’t know the man. I had the privilege of getting to know him over the next thirty-five years as I served in the organization he loved so much.
My first exposure to Arthur was through a recording the band made in 1962, which was sold to support the building of the National Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., soon to be re-named the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The RCA Corporation recorded the band shortly after they returned from the 1962 national concert tour. Arthur was playing principal euphonium and, even though he didn’t have a lot of solos or exposed passages to play, his beautiful sound and style came through. I noticed the way he played the simple first strain of Sousa’s Semper Fidelis, with so much life, energy, and vitality. His solo in Samuel Barber’s Commando March was beautifully played. Even the simple counter melodies in Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday and F. W. Meacham’s American Patrol caught my ear. I didn’t know who was playing, but I really liked what I heard.
Arthur W. Lehman
By the time I joined the band I knew who that euphonium player was but had never met him. I heard recordings of some of his solo performances and was in awe of his amazing ability. As a new euphonium player in the band, I was encouraged to call Arthur and ask if he would give me some lessons. I called him and he was happy to meet with me. I arrived at his home and, with great fear and trepidation, knocked on his door. I don’t remember a lot about the details of that first lesson, but I do remember that we worked mostly on style—how to play a Sousa march, a German march, an Italian opera overture. He was very kind and disarming and made gentle suggestions with lots of encouragement. What a contrast to what I had expected from the monster player I had heard on the recordings. The lessons would often end with one of his famous chocolate milk shakes. It was huge, enough for two or three people, but he took great delight in seeing you finish it off. It was nourishment very much appreciated after a long lesson.
I would learn later that, when Arthur joined the band in 1947, he had done just what I was doing. He went to the greatest euphonium player he knew of and asked for lessons. Harold Brasch was the euphonium soloist of the United States Navy Band, and Arthur wasted no time getting in touch with Harold to start taking lessons. Even though Arthur was playing solos almost immediately after joining the band, he felt that he had a lot to learn and was eager to learn all he could from Harold. These lessons went on for nine years as Arthur solved problems and weaknesses in his playing with Harold’s wise guidance. Harold then “fired” Arthur as his student, declaring that there was nothing more that he could teach him. In an article written in January 2006 Arthur disagreed. He described the way he introduced Harold to someone, saying, “This is Harold Brasch, my teacher. He taught me all I know about playing the euphonium—but not all he knows!” Arthur wrote on to explain, “Harold would just grin. He knew what I meant. He was the master, always. I was merely one of his many pupils. I was very fortunate that I knew him as a teacher, side partner (in the National Concert Band of America), and friend.” They could have been rivals, competitors, even enemies, but that was not possible with Arthur. He had nothing but respect and love for his teacher and friend.
Arthur modeled his teaching style after Harold’s. He would talk with a new student to find out what they were doing, where they were playing, and what they were most interested in working on. He would listen to something the student brought to the lesson and would begin to get an idea of where to dig in and go to work. In 1983 he created his own method book called The Art of Euphonium Playing and filled it with much of the knowledge and wisdom he had gained over the years. Running throughout the book is the consistent message that you have to work hard to accomplish anything worthwhile. Arthur had a tremendous work ethic, and he expected the same from his students.
There was an additional way to study with Arthur, maybe the best way of all. In 1973, Arthur became a charter member of the National Concert Band of America. This was a band comprised primarily of retired service band members. This was an amazing collection of great musicians who all had a lot of knowledge and experience to share. Arthur invited me to come to rehearsals and play in the section—he thought I might be able to pick up a thing or two. That was a great understatement! The euphonium section was comprised of Buddy Burroughs and Karl Humble, both retired from the Marine Band, Arthur, and Harold Brasch. What a fantastic opportunity to learn from the masters. A few other “students” like me would play as well. It was a wonderful experience full of opportunities to learn. Arthur played with this band for twenty-four years and soloed with them frequently. He loved to play the great Mantia solos, his favorite being All those Endearing Young Charms.
In 1978 when I left the Marine Band’s euphonium section to work in the music library, I soon discovered that Arthur had been making weekly visits to the library. He delivered two grocery bags full of baked goods—cakes, pies, pastries of all kinds—to be kept in the library for hungry librarians and band members to enjoy. I discovered that he had been doing this for years, and the tradition dated back to about 1956 when he became the personnel manager of the band when on tour. His job included helping bandmembers check in and out of motels while on the road, helping them with personal problems, and caring for them if they became sick. It was quite an important responsibility and one that he would not have had to take on. He was principal euphonium and was a featured soloist on many of the tours. He also served as stand-by soloist for many tours and was always ready to play a solo if one of the other soloists was not able to perform. So why did he take on this additional responsibility? I think it was because he really enjoyed people and cared about them. He wanted to serve them and the organization by helping in this way. He never got much credit for the work he did, but he didn’t ask for any. The help he was able to give was reward enough. There was one more part of the job. Every morning just before the buses departed for the next town, Arthur would visit the local bakery and buy two bags full of baked goods. Many of the daily bus trips were long and too often there was no time to eat lunch before a matinee concert. So Arthur provided a snack that would help the band get through the day. When he retired from the band in 1971 he continued the tradition, making a weekly visit to the library with his offering of treats. The visits also allowed him to keep in touch with his friends in the band.
For a number of years after his retirement, Arthur made regular visits to the Library of Congress to listen to and catalog Marine Band recordings that were stored there. From 1922 to the mid-1960s, the Marine Band was involved in numerous weekly radio broadcasts. Many of these programs were pre-recorded onto sixteen-inch transcription discs. These discs had been donated to the Library of Congress before a listing of their contents had been made. Arthur had a special interest in these recordings because he had been one of the first staff members of the band’s recording lab and had helped with the early recordings. The story of his connection with the recording lab is significant.
When Arthur auditioned for the band in 1947, Major William F. Santelmann, the director of the band, found him qualified to play euphonium but he didn’t double on a string instrument, something all members were required to do. When it appeared that this requirement would prevent Arthur from passing the audition, Major Santelmann studied his résumé and noticed that Arthur had a degree in electrical engineering from Penn State University. Major Santelmann decided that Arthur’s degree would be very valuable as the band created its first recording lab, and he waved the requirement to play a string instrument. If it hadn’t been for his Penn State degree, Arthur would probably never have become a member of the Marine Band. He helped out in the lab for several years, until a full-time recording engineer could be enlisted to do the job. His interest in and love for the band’s recordings were contagious, and he passed these values on to many who followed him.
Although he must have been considered a most eligible bachelor, Arthur remained single throughout most of his life. He was totally devoted to the Marine Band and had sought out many ways to make as big a contribution as possible. Music and the band had been his full-time occupation, and he filled each day with the work that he loved. He was also devoted to his mother, Ada W. Lehman, and cared for her as she grew old and infirm, putting off any thought of marriage. For the last two years of her life she suffered from congestive heart failure, and Arthur gave her his total attention. She died in 1989 at the age of ninety-nine.
Soon after that, Joe Dupal, one of Arthur’s closest friends, was diagnosed with cancer. Joe quickly became bedridden, and Arthur traveled to the hospital several times a week to visit him. There he met Joe’s wife, Frieda, and tried to help her care for Joe. After Joe’s death, Frieda needed a lot of assistance, and Arthur was there to help. They became good friends as they each adjusted to the loss of a loved one. The relationship continued to grow, and, in 1991, at the age of seventy-three, Arthur married Frieda. She knew nothing about the euphonium or bands, but Arthur was willing to teach her and she was willing to learn. She was an excellent cook and Arthur, who always enjoyed good food, relished the fine meals she prepared, especially the dishes she had learned in her native Germany. They were a perfect match and were devoted to each other. Arthur wrote in his memoirs, “My marriage to Frieda has been a delight. She is such a wonderful person that I can’t believe that I was so lucky even to meet her, let alone marry her.” He continued, “Of all my life’s events, my marriage to Frieda may be my most important one.”
When Arthur became wary of driving into the District and no longer visited the band at Marine Barracks, he and Frieda would occasionally invite me to come to their house for a meal. I jumped at the chance and enjoyed the food and conversation. During one of those visits I asked Arthur if he would do an oral history video interview for the band’s archive. He declined, saying that cameras made him nervous. I found that surprising considering his long history of solo performances but, knowing Arthur, I knew he was telling the truth. So, I asked him if he would write out his memoirs. He had actually started doing this some years earlier but had gotten out of the practice. I asked him to start again and suggested a few interesting topics. He liked the idea and began to pour out article after article of interesting stories of his years with the Marine Band. I was invited for meals almost every week and would pick up the pile of articles that Arthur had just written. In all, he produced three notebooks filled with articles—hundreds of pages—with much more information than I could have captured in a two or three-hour video interview. Maybe he knew of a better way to accomplish the goal I was trying to achieve, and gently directed me that way, pretty much the way he had taught me over thirty years earlier.
There was one other type of article that Arthur was very faithful in writing through the years. When a former member of the Marine Band died, Arthur would write a lengthy obituary. He included a lot of personal stories and a few photos. He had the obituary printed and distributed to friends as a final tribute. As Arthur aged I sometimes wondered who would write his obituary. I guess that I am among a number of friends who had the blessing of knowing him and who have attempted to write a tribute to him. I hope this does him the honor he deserves and helps others to know the man that I was privileged to know. He was so much more than just a euphonium player. He was a dedicated musician who worked hard to make his organization the best it could be. He was an excellent teacher who challenged his students to work hard and excel. And he was a man who valued people above all else, a dedicated and faithful friend who was there when you needed him. Even though I no longer play the euphonium, I am able to put into practice daily many of the important lessons I learned from him. He will be greatly missed but never forgotten.
From Idol to Friend
by Keith Barton
Unlike many others who knew Arthur Lehman, I only knew him a very short while. In fact, if I had not bought an older Boosey & Hawkes Imperial euphonium in late 2002 and had not been given his two LP records with the Art of Euphonium books Spring 2003, I would not have written him at all because I had never heard of him. I sat down and listened to his two records of solos and my ears perked up immediately. “Wow, this guy is fantastic.” I looked at the books and said to myself, “That horn he has looks just like my Imperial.” I wondered to myself if he might still be alive. Being a member of the ITEA, I looked at the membership roster and sure enough there he was in Camp Springs, Maryland. I decided to write him, thinking he might be so old that he might not write back. Well, boy was I wrong!
The euphonium section of the US Marine Band in full dress uniform, March 5, 1967. From left to right, front row, MGySgtArthur Lehman, GySgt Karl Humble. Back row, SSgt Jeffrey Price, SSgt John R. Zimmerman.
I wrote him just before Thanksgiving of 2003. By the end of the next week, I had a letter from Arthur. I wrote him back, and then he wrote me back. Pretty soon I was getting a letter from him every day. He told me I wasn’t some young kid wanting something, and he also told me in his own unique way, that I was ignorant, and he was going to set about educating me. And, if I agreed he would make me sorry I ever wrote him in the first place. If you knew Arthur Lehman, you know that is exactly how he was: he spoke his mind. And if he liked you, you knew it. If he didn’t you’d not hear from him very often.
My background is typical for many amateur players. I went nearly 30 years without touching a euphonium since high school. I spent time in the Navy, as a police officer afterward, and when I wrote Arthur the first time, had been an FBI Agent for over 16 years. Yes, I was pretty ignorant to say the least—about playing the euphonium, band literature, marches, and music in general. Arthur set about correcting things with daily letters.
From mid-December 2003 up until he got very weak and ill in the summer of 2008, Arthur wrote to me every single day—sometimes twice a day. I tried to keep up but it was impossible. I soon learned he got up every morning at 1 or 2 a. m., and wrote me and several others, and at the same time was dubbing LP records in his collection to cassette tape and mailing them to me. He sent me euphonium and trumpet parts to numerous marches and other concert music. He taught me to play treble clef, and how to transpose on the fly from bass clef with a very simple method. He showed me tips and tricks about playing, alternate fingerings, pressing a valve down half way, glissandos, vibrato techniques, and breath control. All of this he did in written letters.
From his letters, I learned there were several things important in his life. These were his wife Frieda, his love of the U. S. Marine Band, his little dog Smokey, playing the euphonium, and food! In all of Arthur’s letters, he usually touched on one of the topics or a combination of them. His letters were full of anecdotes about the Marine Band and about his, really second career, playing with the National Concert Band of America. And he also wrote about his very good friend, Harold Brasch.
So much information! My head was aching. I knew all about Arthur’s childhood, his mother and father, his aunt that played piano, his early music teachers, his years in the U. S. Army, on and on and on. I thought maybe I should write something about him. I asked if anyone had every written an article about him for the ITEA Journal. Done, he said, and a week later, he sent me his personal copy of that journal edition. Well, let me think. He writes about the Marine Band all the time, maybe I can write something about that. Done, he said, and then came large envelopes full of “articles” as he called them, all about the Marine Band. There were hundreds of pages, in fact. Stories and anecdotes about his years in the band, tours, and the horn he played that he bought in 1947 and at first Col. Santelmann would not let him play in the Marine Band because he said, “it looked funny.” It was his compensating Boosey & Hawkes Imperial euphonium that you see in so many photographs of Arthur. During the summer of 2007, I put Arthur’s memoirs together based on the writings he had already done, and sent a copy to the Marine Band and a copy to Arthur.
I got to meet Arthur in January 2004. I was at an in-service near Baltimore, and he agreed to let me visit on a Saturday morning. I arrived at his house and met Frieda and then he gave me a tour of his basement, which was filled with Marine Band memorabilia and dozens of photos of himself, Harold Brasch, and Simone Mantia. He took me out to lunch, and I was at loss of what to talk about. Here I was sitting with the famous euphonium player Arthur Lehman, and all he wanted to talk about was food. I thought I’d never have a chance to visit with him again.
But the letters continued along with my education. During the summer of 2004, I was TDY [temporary duty yonder] at FBIHQ in Washington, D. C. By now, I was determined to hear the Marine Band in rehearsal if possible. What better way to hear them other than in concert. Through Arthur, Mike Ressler, the Marine Band head librarian (and euphonium player), got me into 4 rehearsals at the old Marine Band hall at 8th and I. I sat in the back and was overwhelmed by the sound of the band.
Arthur and Frieda came to the very first rehearsal I went to. It had been years since Arthur had set foot in the Band hall. He came because I was going there. This was also the last time Arthur heard the Band playing live. He never went back to 8th and I. The next year, in April of 2005, I took Arthur and Frieda to the new Marine Barracks just down the street, and we were given a tour of the new band library and saw the new Band hall. What a nice facility. That was the one and only time that Arthur went there.
Back to my summer of 2004 visits with Arthur and Frieda, on one Sunday as I drove up to their home for lunch, Frieda met me at the gate and announced, “Arthur has a surprise for you. He is giving you his horn.” It was his old B&H Imperial, the same horn he played in the Marine Band all those years. And he gave me two of his Lehman special mouthpieces. One has a screw rim. Arthur told me it was the mouthpiece he played and used all those years in the Marine Band. When I got back home with the horn, I immediately cleaned it up and put the valves back in and played it. I am still playing it today in my community band. Arthur told me he was happy that his “old beat up horn” was still being played. My wife gave Arthur’s euphonium a nickname: Little Arthur, and that pleased Arthur, too.
Over the next few years, of 2005 through late 2007, I visited Arthur and Frieda several times. Always, we had a nice lunch and before that, Arthur gave me a few lessons. Never enough time to really learn anything, though. And since he wasn’t playing any longer (and I had his horn), he got a little frustrated with me because he wanted to show me how to play something but couldn’t. He told me that was how Harold Brasch taught, by example.
In my letters to Arthur over those years, I let him know that the only thing I ever wanted from him was his friendship and to absorb as much knowledge as I could. We both knew he didn’t have many years left, even though his aim was to make it to 99 years old, the same age as his mother before she passed away. Arthur tried very hard to keep himself in excellent physical condition, and I must agree that up until he got very sick, he didn’t look like he was nearly 90 years old. And he definitely had the mind of a young man.
In February 2008, Arthur caught a very bad common cold. It really took him down, and he tried to get better from it but his breathing began to give him problems. Hefinally went to the doctor a few months later and was told he had pulmonary fibrosis. This is a fatal disease and usually strikes people much younger than 90 years of age. How did he get it? What happened to him in his earlier years to damage his lungs in such a way? He never smoked or drank, always took care of himself, what could have happened? Arthur thought maybe it was all the cigarette smoke he breathed from other band members in those years so long gone by. Or could it have been fumes from the tour buses over a period of 20 years. We will never know, but Arthur put up a valiant fight.
I last saw Arthur Lehman in July and August 2008. By then he had lost close to 30 pounds and was at 130 pounds. He was on oxygen all day and night, but he kept on fighting that disease. He basically told me not to come back because he did not want me to see him getting worse. In early 2009, he wrote one of his final “articles,” and it was about how playing the euphonium all those years actually made him live longer! It strengthened his lungs. That was his opinion. But pulmonary fibrosis won out, and Arthur passed away June 19th, 2009, being cared for by his loving wife Frieda.
I learned many things from Arthur Lehman. First of all, he never signed a letter Art or Artie. I think he liked being called Arthur. I learned to write letters again as it is a lost talent today. I learned from Arthur to try to let things go that bother you—to forgive and forget. Of course, I did learn that he was not a genius on the euphonium. He told me so. He said the way to learn to play the euphonium or any other instrument was to practice, practice, practice, and drill and drill endlessly. He said you never stop learning either, about both the euphonium and life.
Yes, I think about Arthur a lot. I have his old horn in the case right behind me as I type, have his photos on the wall, and many books and materials that he gave me. But what I really have are great memories from a short time of knowing a very unique, intelligent, complex, and one-of-a-kind person. Thank you, Arthur.
A True Legend by Captain John R. Zimmerman, USMC (Ret.), United States Marine Band, Euphonium Soloist, Operations Officer
My First Meeting
My first meeting with Arthur Lehman was at my audition with the Marine Band in August of 1963. I was 15 years old, and I auditioned on trombone and euphonium. Colonel Albert F. Schoepper, Director, adjudicated the proceedings, which were administered by Arthur. The Marine Band enjoyed a long history of young musicians coming from outstanding high school and community band traditions in Pennsylvania, so my appearance was nothing new.
Art was the epitome of a professional. He treated me just as if I were years older and from a university setting. The friendship established that day with my Dad and me endured for the rest of our lives. Having been accepted into the band on that remarkable day, the relationship between Art and I grew closer over the many years to follow.
My Dad and I went to Marine Barracks in Washington, D. C. the summer of 1964 to engage Art in a euphonium lesson. Following the morning band rehearsal, Art took me into the band’s library and shared with me the “Lehman interpretation” of the DeLuca solo, Beautiful Colorado. Talk about an eye opener, Art’s style and technique was like that of a modern day Simone Mantia. After the lesson, my Dad asked Art if he would agree to a regular lesson schedule. After all, I was to join the Marine Band in one year after graduating from high school, and Dad felt the lessons would be invaluable when I was faced with my early days of adjustment. Art declined because of the band’s schedule and particularly the band’s annual fall concert tour. So, he helped us contact Harold Brasch, retired euphonium soloist with the U. S. Navy Band. I studied regularly with Harold for the following year. Once again, Arthur demonstrated his kindness and sensitivity to my needs.
Sharing the Stand
When I joined the Marine Band in June 1965, I was 17 years old and needed some friends to show me the ropes. Art and the Pennsylvania Delegation stepped in; it seemed like half the band. Art was from Doylestown, Pennsylvania and suddenly musicians began introducing themselves, and I felt right at home.
Arthur encouraged me to perform solos and constantly offered suggestion after suggestion. I took him up on the offerings and performed 10 different solos comprising 17 appearances with the Marine Band over the course of 6 years.
Sharing the stand with Art Lehman was like receiving a masterclass every day. Art was the Principle Euphonium for many, many years. As my Dad would say, “Art was a student of the instrument.” Art could play any piece placed in front of him. He practiced at home every day. He loved the euphonium and was constantly challenging himself to expand his breath control, technique, and sensitivity to soft passages. I could not believe the control that Art had on delicate exposed pianissimo sections. I worked for years to try to match him, with no avail.
Art had a great sense of humor. He would discover funny sayings or drawings and have them duplicated on small card size stock. So, every few weeks, Art would come to the band hall extra early and place a card on each music stand prior to rehearsal. It was fun watching the reaction of the musicians as they viewed the card and laughed at the humor. It broke stress of the upcoming rehearsal and added to the camaraderie of the organization. Art would always be working for the good of the band.
On Tour – 1966
My first national concert tour was my only tour with Arthur. We left Washington, D. C. in early September and did not return for about nine weeks. Two concerts a day, seven days a week, the schedule was grueling. Art was the Personnel Manger, so in addition to holding down the principle chair, he had many extra duties involving hotel room assignments and personnel issues. Once again, Art was the consummate professional.
One day, the band was in the mid-west, and the dressing room was the gymnasium. There was a wrestling mat on the floor, and the wardrobe trunks were placed around the perimeter for the musicians to change into their “red coats.” Well, Arthur was studying the finer art of karate, and Fred Erdman was perfecting the art of judo. Here was an opportunity for Fred, the young “whippersnapper,” to show the old man a trick of two. Art and Fred removed their shoes and entered the mat. They went to the center, bowed to each other as if in the Olympics, and proceeded to circle each other looking for an opportunity to strike. Arthur took down Fred in a matter of seconds and responded to the roar of the spectators. Shocked by the events, Fred gathered himself and proceeded to knock the legs out from under Art. The musicians went crazy, no one was hurt, it broke the monotony of the tour, and Arthur succeeded once again in recharging the brotherhood of the organization.
The stories about Arthur Lehman can be told for days. He was a prince among his peers—a walking giant. He was one of the greatest soloists in the history of the Marine Band. A true leader who understood the proud history and tradition of “The Presidents’ Own.”
Arthur W. Lehman was a true “Legend.”
Art Lehman by Lucas Spiros, Retired Principal Euphonium, U. S. Marine Band
Art Lehman was a gentleman, humanitarian, great soloist, friend, and section leader. I was very fortunate to have joined the band at the time I did. Most of the section leaders were 10 to 20 years older than people entering the band in the 1960s.
Art was a very demanding section leader. If something didn’t agree with him he let a young man know about it. As a result the euphonium section in the Marine Band has always been phenomenal via his example.
Art was an incredible correspondent. He wrote literally hundreds of people on hand written letters—never typed. While the Marine Band was on the road he actually wrote individual letters to all the members in the band on a daily basis. That in my opinion was an awful lot of time and effort, but this was Art’s way. He loved the band and the musicians.
I have been retired since 1987 and had been in touch with Arthur periodically. The last time I was with Art is when a group of us (euphonium players) took Art and his lovely wife out to a surprise lunch for Art’s 89th birthday. We will miss him greatly.