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The Harold Bachman papers

 Collection 0060-SCPA

Harold Bachman (1892-1972) was a prominent music educator and military bandleader. He received his academic training at the North Dakota Agricultural College in Fargo where he graduated in 1916. While still a student, Bachman toured with several professional bands as cornetist, including Al G. Barnes's Circus Band and Bohumir Kryl's Concert Band. During World War I, Bachman served as Bandleader of the 116th Engineer Band, and after the war he organized and conducted a professional concert band known as Bachman's Million Dollar Band. From 1935 until entering the Army in World War II, Bachman was director of the University of Chicago band, where he became widely known as an advisor on school music issues to the Educational Music Bureau of Chicago and as Associate Editor of the Educational Music Magazine. During World War II, Bachman was commissioned as a Captain and made Supervisor of Music in the 6th Service Command. In October of 1943 he was ordered overseas to become supervisor of music with the Special Services Section in the South Pacific. Bachman resigned from active service as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1948 to accept a position as Director of Bands at the University of Florida. He served as President of the American Bandmaster's Association (ABA) in 1950-1951 and he received an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of Idaho in 1963.


  • 1940-1971
  • Majority of material found within 1942-1945

Use and Access to Collection

The collection is open for research use.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact the curator for an appointment:


0.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Harold Bachman papers cover the period from 1918 to 1971; the bulk dates of the material are 1942-1945. There is only one series and it contains documents relating to Bachman's work as a bandleader in the Army during World War II. It includes professional memos and instruction guides, clippings, correspondence, and one cassette tape. Papers pertaining to offices Bachman held for ABA, are kept in the American Bandmasters Association records.


Harold Bachman (1892-1972) received his earliest musical training while performing as a cornetist in small circus and local bands as a teenager in Minot, North Dakota. He continued his musical career while a student at North Dakota Agricultural College, leading the student cadet bands as well as playing cornet for in Bohumir Kryl's band during the summers. When the U.S. entered WWI, Bachman volunteered to recruit a band for the North Dakota National Guard - an assignment approved by the governor. That band would become the 2nd Infantry Band, nicknamed the "Million Dollar Band" after General Hunter Liggett reportedly commented to an aid that that band is worth a million dollars to the United States Army."

After the end of the war, Bachman incorporated the "Million Dollar Band" and toured with it from Chicago to Florida, eventually establishing headquarters in Chicago where it played in Grant Park and on CBS and NBC radio broadcasts. Bachman became the director of bands at the University of Chicago in 1935 where he stayed until 1942, when he was recalled to active duty in World War II. During that war, Bachman became the head of band music for the Pacific Theater.

Bachman was appointed director of bands at the University of Florida in 1948, where he remained for a decade, creating a premiere college band program. From 1950 to 1951, he was president of the ABA. Although he retired as director of bands in 1958, he served as interim chair of the Department of Music at University of Florida from 1958 to 1961 and he was a professor emeritus until his death in 1972.


This collection has one series.

  1. Harold Bachman papers

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Bachman materials were donated to the University of Maryland Libraries sometime between 1972 and 1979.

Related Material

American Bandmasters Association records, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland Libraries. (finding aid)

The Harold Bachman papers
Christina Taylor Gibson
June 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States