FILLMORE, HENRY (1881-1956)

James Henry Fillmore, Jr. (3 December, 1881 - 7 December, 1956) was an American musician, composer, publisher, and bandleader, best known for his many marches and screamers. A prolific composer, Fillmore wrote over 250 tunes and arranged orchestrations for hundreds more. He also published a great number of tunes under various pseudonyms. Henry Fillmore wrote under a series of different names such as Harold Bennett, Ray Hall, Harry Hartley, Al Hayes, and the funniest, Henrietta Moore. Fillmore used many pseudonyms throughout his career and was worried that flooding the market with music published under "Henry Fillmore" would dissuade others from purchasing his music. His pseudonyms are associate with grade, or difficulty level, or genre. In a 1953 interview with Jack H. Mahan, Fillmore explained his pseudonym uses: "Harold Bennett" was easy and non-progressive, ff you can play one, you can play them all. "Al Hayes" was a little more difficult. "Will Huff" was a duplicate composer (Fillmore's "Will Huff" was usually easy grade). "Henry Fillmore" could be the easiest marches or the most difficult. "Harry Hartley" are all solos; cornet, trombone, and baritone that are easy grade with no triple-tonguing or cadenzas. Solos under other names are just incidental. "Henrietta Moore" is all twilight songs.
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, as the eldest of five children. In his youth he mastered piano, guitar, violin, flute, and slide trombone. He kept his trombone activities a secret at first, as his circumspect religious father James Henry Fillmore (1849–1936), a composer of gospel songs, often in collaboration with Jessie Brown Pounds, believed it an uncouth and sinful instrument. Henry's mother secretly bought a used trombone for him and obscured, from Henry's father, the son's learning to play the instrument.
Henry Fillmore, whose relative Frederick Augustus Fillmore (1856–1925) was also a tune-composer for gospel songs, was a singer for his church choir as a boy. He began composing at 18, with his first published march "Hingham", named after a line of brass instruments.
Fillmore entered the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music in 1901. After graduating he traveled the United States as a circus bandmaster with his wife, an exotic dancer named Mabel May Jones. They were married in Saint Louis.
In the 1920s Fillmore was back in Cincinnati conducting the Shriners Temple Band, which he turned into one of the best marching bands in the country.
In 1938 Fillmore, after being advised by a physician that he had just a few months to live, retired to Miami, Florida. He went on, however, to prove the physician wrong. So Fillmore kept an active schedule rehearsing high school bands in Florida and composing marches. Henry Fillmore Band Hall, the rehearsal hall for many of the University of Miami's performing groups, acquired its name as a tribute to Fillmore's work in the band genre. His march Orange Bowl was written for Miami's Band of the Hour. Uncle Henry, as Fillmore was affectionately known to the members of the Band of the hour, also wrote the University of Miami's current official fight song – "Miami U How-De-Doo." His arrangement of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the traditional arrangement performed by the Florida State University Marching Chiefs. His march Men of Florida was composed for the bands at the University of Florida. He was given an Honorary Doctorate of Music by the University of Miami in 1956 in recognition of his career. Fillmore lived out the rest of his days in South Florida. Perhaps no other individual has had his level of influence on the music of the private University of Miami and the public University of Florida and Florida State University.
While best known for march music and screamers, he also wrote waltzes, foxtrots, hymns, novelty numbers, and overtures.