Pitt Band History The Late Thirties
The Late Thirties

Lee S. Lockhart 1934-1937

Theodore Finney 1937-1939

In 1934 Lee Lockhart became director of music, succeeding Rocereto who was made the director emeritus. The change in leadership had little effect on the already well established program.

By the mid-30s, competition was so keen that tryouts were held for the 120 positions in the marching band. The aggregation was sitting on top of the college band world. The band played at all home football games and made two or three trips each fall to out-of-town games. After the football season was over, the Concert Band made numerous appearances in the winter and spring throughout the state. During that time, the annual Home Concert became one of the highlights of Pitt Spring Festival Week.

In the '30s, the concert band was a popular attraction at cities in Pennsylvania and New York. On one trip, the band gave nine concerts, with Oil City, Erie, Jamestown, N.Y., Niagara Falls and Buffalo among the stops. The contingent was led by Lockhart, Capt. K.P. Flagg, assistant professor of military science, and Theodore M. Finney, director of the Men's Glee Club. The 60 band members traveled in two chartered buses.

On one occasion, the marching band stopped at Washington, Pa., while en route to the West Virginia game and played on the courthouse lawn. A story in The Washington Observer said: "The largest university band in the east, the well-drilled University of Pittsburgh band of 141 pieces, will present a concert on the courthouse lawn tomorrow morning at 9:45 o'clock..." The first splash of national recognition came in 1937 when the "Big Apple" ushered in a new era of popular musical maneuvers. The Pitt News commented:

"One of the finest performances of a thrill-packed afternoon was exhibited when the band went into a new wing-back formation with Captain Flagg calling the signals. The Pitt Band's "Big Apple" is distinctly something new in half-time maneuvers. It also served, after the game, as a very effective victory (over Nebraska) dance."

The "Lambeth Walk" number, two years later, was another smash hit for the Pitt Band, which had clearly established itself as a leader in half-time entertainment. Other innovations were the Pitt Panther fanfare entry and handwritten music to go with the 176-beat per minute steps, which was 56 beats more than military cadence.