Pitt Band History The Early Years
The Early Years

Carl Sabad 1911-1912

Art Giles 1912-1915

Morris DeHart 1915-1917

E. R. Boucher 1917-1918

The university was in its 22nd football season when the first Pitt Band appeared at Forbes Field on October 14, 1911, at the Pitt-Ohio Northern game. The band was organized by Dr. Earl Miller and James G. Oliver with Carl Sabad as the student leader and Don Kirk as the manager. The eight-man contingent wore "uniforms" of scarlet felt caps with blue tassels and played seven instruments borrowed from Becker's Music Store. Funds from students, alumni and friends of the University were given to buy the caps and tassels. In 1912 E.V. Babcock, former mayor of Pittsburgh and well known industrialist, bought the first real uniforms, including mackinaws as protection against bad weather.

It was a modest beginning, but better days were ahead as Glenn Scobey Warner--"Pop" to everyone--led the university's football program to national prominence. Pitt won national football championships in 1915, '16 and '18--the first of nine titles over the years.

The early period was difficult, but Sabad and Kirk were resolute leaders who refused to fail. The band grew from its original corps of eight hardy souls to about 20 players. Attendance was sporadic and frequently musicians had to be called in to fill the ranks. Nor was the group completely uniformed. Some had matching coats and caps while others did not.

But the excitement of marching in a band overcame these shortcomings and by 1917, the organization had attracted 50 members with uniforms for all. Much of this progress came under the direction of Dr. F.J. Holder, professor of mathematics and faculty advisor. He had a keen interest in the band and soon his promotional efforts had caused the ranks to swell to 60 players.

One of the early bandsmen was Judge Gustave Schramm, who played for three years beginning in 1915 and later served as faculty advisor. He was instrumental in making the band one of the best of its time.

In 1916 when the football team played at the University of Pennsylvania, the band was taken along. This worked out well because the band's appearance established a reputation for itself and enhanced the esteem of the university. The Penn game in Philadelphia became a regular stop on the band's agenda, which also included trips to Geneva College and Syracuse.