Price: $250.00

Autographed 8” x 10” sepia photograph of the founder of the U.S. Navy Band, the U.S. Navy Band School of Music and co-founder of the U.S. Coast Guard Band in full uniform.

Benter (1887-1964) while not as widely remembered as John Philip Sousa remains a central figure in the formation of centralized military bands in the United States of America.  Benter who was from New York City and trained in several woodwind instruments joined the Navy in 1905 at the age of 18 as a “boy musician”.  At the time he joined the Navy, each company and major battleship had their own band, none centralized.  His talent was recognized quickly and his first major posting was as bandmaster of the flag ship, the U.S.S. Connecticut in 1906.  The boat was part of “The Great White Fleet” and he was the youngest bandmaster ever appointed to lead one of the company bands.  Other ship bands he led during his early years include; the gunboat U.S.S, Paducah, the Virginia class battleship U.S.S. Rhode Island and the transport ship, the U.S.S. Henderson.  In 1923 whilst aboard the U.S.S. Henderson with a 35 member band, Benter met President Harding who was on board for a trip to Alaska.  Harding not only enjoyed his music making, but also enjoyed his company as he was able to talk politics.  The two became friendly and Harding shortly before his death put into works an increase in musicians for Benter and by 1924 his band was 75 men strong.  The reputation of his company band grew and in 1925 by an Act of Congress, the United States Navy Band was formed and Benter was promoted in the same Act to the rank of lieutenant.  At that point he was the first seaman bandsman to be promoted to the rank of a commissioned officer.  The new band was based out of the Washington Navy Yard and received moral support from John Philip Sousa who was a great friend of Benter.  The same year a commission was formed to found the U.S. Coast Guard Band.  The commission consisted of Benter, John Philip Sousa and Walter Damrosch.  Benter dedicated himself to finding the best musicians possible and for many years, post Sousa was considered to have the finest military band in the country.  Benter was a believer in tours and radio performances and the band was often a guest on the NBC program “Hour of Memories”.  Calvin Coolidge was a great friend to the band and they were known as “The President’s favorite”, as opposed to the Marine Band which was always known as “The President’s own” since the time of Thomas Jefferson.  Coolidge signed the initial Act creating the band and approved tours for the band by executive order in 1927.  In 1929 the Band was the official welcoming band for Lindbergh’s return from Europe and the same year Columbia University bestowed an honorary doctorate on Benter, the home town boy whose formal education did not extend past high school.  In 1932, the band was the official welcoming musical organization for the return of Admiral Byrd’s return from the South Pole.  And in 1940, Benter assigned his old friend John Philip Sousa to conduct the band for the Bicentennial of George Washington’s birth. 

Benter was also a charter member of two important musical organizations, The American Bandmaster’s Association and the American Society of Composer’s and Musicians, Author’s and Publishers (ASCAP).  Benter wasn’t just a bandmaster, he was a serious composer of marches for band, as well as a teacher.  His Marches are numerous, though not as well known as Sousa’s but still performed by the Navy Band today.  They include, “All Hands March”, “Our Navy March”, “The Secnav March”, “Coma Irons March”, “The Light Cruisers March” and “The Submarine Force March”.  He also edited and arranged, “Lieutenant Charles Benter’s Book of National Airs”.  In 1935 Benter established the Navy School of Music, which he directed until 1941.

After Benter’s retirement in 1942, he organized the Metropolitan Police Band in Washington, D.C. which he led until his second retirement in 1962.  He also worked in public relations, literally passing away at his desk of a real estate firm for whom he was doing publicity work at the time. 

Interestingly Benter was a Shriner and composed a march which he published entitled, “Call Me Henry” for the Washington D. C. Shriner Temple Illustrious Potentate Henry Landsburgh. (Landburgh Department Stores)




Text Box: COnductor AUTOGRAPHS

Phone: 212-860-5541  *  Fax: 917-677-8247