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Leonard Falcone papers

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-17.133

Scope and Contents

The materials in this collection span from 1916, with photographs of Falcone's arrival to the United States from his native Italy, until 1985, with news clippings and an itinerary outlining the upcoming tour of the Falcone Alumni Band.

The most comprehensive range of materials in this collection are contained in Falcone's personal collection of scrapbooks. In particular, the early volumes provide much information on Falcone during his early years, including concert programs from his first recital as a student of Music in Ann Arbor, and a wide scope of news clipping charting Falcone's early career as Director the Military Band at Michigan State College (now Michigan State University). Later scrapbooks, especially those of the 1950s, provide wide coverage of the 1954 and 1956 Rose Bowl games from the perspective of the Marching Band. Also contained in the scrapbooks are materials related to Falcone's numerous affiliations outside of MSU as guest conductor, adjudicator and soloist.

Myron Welch's 1973 dissertation, The Life and Work of Leonard Falcone with Emphasis on his Years as Director of Bands at Michigan State University, provides an extremely thorough overview of Leonard Falcone's career, including information on his career as a musician before immigrating to the United States, and extensive discussion of Falcone's professional activities.

The majority of the correspondence in the collection covers the years in which Falcone was specifically honored: his 25th Anniversary in 1953; his retirement in 1967; and the granting of an honorary degree in 1978. The letters also cover events such as the Rose Bowl Tournaments and Dr. Goldman's visit in 1955. The series of concert programs, including those contained in the scrapbook collection, provides an overview of the Concert Band's progression from its first concert in 1930 until Falcone's retirement in 1967. Also included are numerous programs, particularly from the post-retirement years, for concerts and contests outside of MSU which Falcone was involved with in various capacities. Materials related to Falcone's involvement in the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp and the Falcone Alumni Band are limited, as are documents pertaining to Falcone's professional involvement with the American Band Masters Association, the College Band Directors National Association and the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.

A large part of the collection is made up of sheet music collected by Falcone during his career. This collection includes manuscripts and publications of music arranged by Leonard and Nicholas Falcone, full scores for pieces performed by MSU bands for over 40 years and texts on method used by Falcone as teaching aids.

The electronic resources include digital photographs of plaques honoring Leonard and Betty Beryl Falcone.


  • Creation: 1916 - 2014


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Biographical Note

Leonard Vincent Falcone (1899-1985) was born April 5th in Roseto Valfortore, in the province of Foggia in Italy. His parents, Dominico Falcone and Maria Filippa (Finelli) had seven children: Nicholas, Carmen, Leonard, Josephina, Lucietta, Giovannina and Rosina. Leonard Falcone began his musical career in 1908 at the age of nine by playing the alto horn in the prestigious town band (known as the Roseto Valfortore Band or the "Banda Municipale") directed by the famous Donato Donatelli, Neapolitan Bandmaster.

Leonard's brother, Nicholas, was also a member of the band. He emigrated to the United States in 1912 in order to pursue his career in music, and, at the advent of the first World War in 1915, it was decided that Leonard should join him. Narrowly missing the draft, Leonard emigrated in June of 1915 at the age of 16. Nicholas Falcone settled in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He had initially found work playing the clarinet in a theater while also working as a tailor. On his arrival in Ann Arbor, Leonard became a tailor's assistant, but at this stage his brother was conducting and managing the band for a silent movie theater in Ypsilanti. By the fall Leonard joined the band as trombonist.

In 1917, Leonard enrolled part-time at the School of Music at the University of Michigan. He continued playing in theaters and in 1920 became the manager, conductor, and violinist of Ann Arbor's Arcade Theater. In 1924, Leonard was granted citizenship. He graduated in 1926 with a diploma in violin. During this time, Nicholas had been appointed director of the Varsity Band at the University of Michigan. The Falcone brothers were becoming reputable as musicians and conductors among the Ann Arbor community. The secretary of Michigan State College (now Michigan State University), Herman Halladay, contacted the Treasurer of the University of Michigan, Robert Campbell, and requested his recommendation for Director of Bands at Michigan State. Both brothers were seriously considered for the position, but as Nicholas was settled with a wife and child in Ann Arbor, it was decided that Leonard, the bachelor, should make the transition to East Lansing. In September of 1927, Leonard Falcone became the director of Michigan State College Military Band, which was comprised of 65 members and performed for all occasions: military, concerts, and athletics. In the summer of 1928, Falcone joined the faculty of the National Music Camp, and it was here that he first began playing the baritone (otherwise known as the euphonium). By the fall of 1928, the Michigan State Institute of Music and Arts was established, and Falcone was listed as director of the band and instructor in wind instruments and Italian. Although the MSC football team performed poorly during the 1916-1932 seasons, the band, under the tutelage of its new director, steadily built a strong reputation.

Developing his skill as a baritonist, Falcone performed a baritone solo in the National High School Band Contest in 1929. Here he caught the attention of John Philip Sousa and Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman, both renowned conductors, and he was invited by the latter to join the prestigious Goldman Band in New York. Although Falcone did not leave his commitments at the college, he spent the summer of 1930 in New York in order to play with the band. Unfortunately, as he was not a member of the New York Musician's Union, he was unable to perform. During the same year, Falcone reintroduced open-air concert performances to the College. These events proved very popular, and Falcone occasionally gave a solo performance. At the final concert of 1934, the band performed Falcone's arrangement of Picchi's "Fantasie Original" before an audience of some 3,000. The band made 54 public appearances in 1930-1931. Accompanying the Spartan football team to Georgetown University, Washington D.C., the band was given the opportunity to perform on the White House lawn for President Hoover on October 31, 1930. In 1935, Nicholas Falcone was forced to take medical leave for one month from his position as director of the University of Michigan Band. Leonard agreed to take over his brother's responsibilities for this month. Nicholas' treatment became prolonged, and for one year, Falcone maintained full duties as band director for both institutions. With the ever-increasing popularity of the MSC band's open-air concerts, a donation from the graduating class of 1937 of $2,500 made it possible to construct a Band Shell in 1938. In 1941, on Falcone's insistence, MSC hosted the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association's State Festival. The MSC Band performed its first concert in a newly constructed auditorium during the festival, an event that attracted crowds of 5,000. During WWII Falcone opted to enlist into the Army to avoid being drafted mid-term. In 1942 he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps and spent eight months as a member of its Air Force Band at Maxwell Field, Alabama. He was later transferred to Stuttgart, Arkansas in order to organize and lead the 388th Air Force Band. Frustrated by his position, Falcone requested a release from his duties, arguing that his role as educator at MSC should certainly be deemed as more valuable to the country than his work in the Army. But although he returned to MSC in the summer of 1943, by September he was called back into service; this time working for a short time at a munitions factory in Ann Arbor. By October 1943, Falcone had fully returned to the college and resumed his duties as director and professor. It was during this period that the Concert Band, due to the depleted numbers of male members, recruited female players, a circumstance which remained unchanged after the war as women became active members in the music department. As women could not be members of the Marching Band, the Concert Band and the Marching Band became separate units in 1946.

On Sunday, December 19, 1948, Leonard married Miss Betty Beryl Cromer, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd R. Cromer. A high school teacher, Betty met her husband when she was a graduate student performing in the Concert Band at MSC. They had two daughters: Mary Beryl and Cecilia. In 1953, Falcone celebrated his 25th anniversary as Director of Bands, and the event was marked on January 17, 1951 with a large banquet held in his honor. The Concert Band began a series of successful tours in 1951, most notably the "Cap and Gown" series which commenced in 1954. As the Concert Band rose in reputation, Falcone was eager to bring the same high regard to the Marching Band. This attention soon came with the entrance of MSC into the Big Ten in 1953, and when the college earned a bid to the 1954 Rose Bowl. Sponsored by Oldsmobile, the band embarked on its train journey to California on December 26, 1953. During this five-day trip, the entourage played and paraded through the cities of Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, El Paso and Tucson. After the Rose Bowl performance in Pasadena, the band also performed in Salt Lake City and Pasadena. The band, this time as the Michigan State University Marching Band, went to the Rose Bowl again in 1956; and the game was televised across the nation. Again, the band performed in several cities along the journey: Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Tucson, Dallas, and St. Louis; and, also appeared on CBS's Bob Crosby Show.

In 1955, the centennial year for the university, the Concert Band was honored by Dr. Edwin Franko Goldman as guest conductor of the Centennial Concert on March 6, 1955. Goldman, considered the premier bandmaster in the country, described the Michigan State Band as one of the best in the country. After this event, Falcone invited other prestigious musicians to be guest conductors of his bands.

In 1960, the Band Shell that had been constructed in 1938 was demolished to make way for Ernst Bessey Hall and the adjacent parking ramp. Although reassurances were made that a new open-air venue would be constructed for the Concert Band performances, the plans never came to fruition, and subsequently the attendance for the outdoor concerts diminished as the seasonal performances moved from site to site with no fixed location.

Nevertheless, in 1964 the Marching Band represented the State of Michigan during Michigan Week Activities at the New York World's Fair. In 1965 the band once more represented the state during Lyndon B. Johnson's Inaugural Parade. This year also saw the band's third trip to the Rose Bowl, and although Oldsmobile was now prohibited by Big Ten guidelines from sponsoring the trip, the company did pay for a trip to San Francisco where the band performed a concert in one of the city's parks.

After many years of service as Michigan State University's Director of Bands, in April 1966 Leonard Falcone decided to request for retirement. This retirement took effect July 1, 1967, exactly forty years after his arrival at the institution on July 1, 1927. Falcone saw the campus grow from an enrollment of approximately 2,500 students to 40,000 in 1967. His single 65 piece Military Band developed into four units: the 75 piece Marching Band, the 115 piece Concert Band, the 100 piece Activity Band, and Spartan Brass.

Although Falcone retired as Band Director in 1967, he certainly did not retire from his profession. Throughout his career he had been involved with organizations and in events outside of MSU and as Professor Emeritus, Falcone continued to take on invitations to be a guest conductor, soloist, advisor or adjudicator at innumerable concerts, festivals and contests across the country. He also continued to work as a professor for the MSU Music Department until the early 1970s. Falcone conducted and toured internationally with the Blue Lake Fine Arts International Exchange Program in 1971. And, the Music Camp dedicated its new Band Pavilion to him in 1976.

Notably, Falcone was a prominent baritone artist, one of the few in the country, and was lauded for bringing the previously obscure instrument into the public eye. The artist made numerous solo appearances across the country from 1929 until his later years. During his career, Falcone made three recordings of Baritone Solos with Joseph Evans, MSU pianist: Leonard Falcone and His Baritone, Leonard Falcone - Baritone Volume II and Leonard Falcone - Baritone Horn. Falcone also collaborated with the First Division Band Course Co. with the publication of The Leonard V. Falcone Baritone Solo Series and The Leonard V. Falcone Trombone Solo Series.

Falcone was also a published writer. In 1932 he wrote "How to Choose a Solo for the Baritone" for the Educational Music Journal; and, went to publish nine more articles on bands and band instruments which appeared in the School Musician, Instrumentalist and the Music Educators Journal. He also worked on transcribing and arranging music for band, particularly the works of Italian composers at the request of his publisher Neil Kjos. (For list of publications and arrangements see p. 183-183, 198, Welch).

Falcone was strongly affiliated with various other professional organizations such as the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, Kappa Kappa Psi, the American Bandmaster's Association, the College Band Directors National Association, and the Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association.

In recognition of these endeavors, in 1977, A. Thad Hegerberg (MSU Band President 1963-1964) became involved in a project to request that the university present Falcone with an Honorary Degree. Although this award is usually reserved for figures not affiliated with the university, Hegerberg, among many others, argued that Falcone's tireless duties outside MSU and as Professor Emeritus should easily entitle him to consideration. The degree would mark 50 years of Falcone's involvement with MSU, and in March 1978, Falcone was awarded the degree of "Doctor of Fine Arts."

In June 1985, still professionally active at 86, Falcone arranged to tour his native province in Italy with the "Falcone Alumni Band", a group which had been recently formed by some of his former students. However, on May 2, just before embarking on the trip, Leonard Falcone died of natural causes. The tour was continued in his honor. It is Leonard Falcone's arrangement of the MSU Fight Song that is still being used today.


30.6 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Series Description

(1) BIOGRAPHICAL FILES. 1926-1985. 3 folders.

These folders contain several items, providing a very general overview of the life of Leonard Falcone. Materials include a leaflet on the Michigan State College Military Band (1930-1931) which documents the Band's performance at The White House in 1930; selected news clippings reporting on Falcone's activities; a 1969 interview; and several concert programs which provide brief outlines of Falcone's career. Also included is an obituary. Of particular interest is Myron Welch's 1973 dissertation, The Life and Work of Leonard Falcone with Emphasis on his Years as Director of Bands at Michigan State University. For further biographical materials see the Scrapbooks. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

(2) CORRESPONDENCE. 1953-1984. 0.3 cubic feet.

These files contain both personal and professional correspondence relating to significant events in Falcone's career. Topics include Falcone's 25th Anniversary as Band Director of MSU Bands (1953); Franko Goldman's visits in 1955; the 1956 Rose Bowl; and the Honorary Degree Award (1978). The series also includes documents regarding Falcone's affiliation with institutes and organizations such as Colorado State College, the American Band Masters Association and the Blue Lake Fine Arts Program. Arranged chronologically.

(3) CONCERT PROGRAMS. 1930-1984. 0.6 cubic feet.

This series, beginning with the program for the first concert given by the Michigan State College Band, contains concert programs from performances by MSU Bands both on the MSU campus and at other venues. Concert programs for performances by bands outside of MSU, are separated according to Falcone's involvement with them as a performer or in his capacity as advisor. The series also contains programs for concerts held at the Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. Additional concert programs are located in the scrapbook collection. Arranged chronologically and by subject.

(4) MEMORABILIA. (1954-1964). 0.4 cubic feet.

This limited series contains items collected by Falcone on his various trips made with the band. These trips included the 1954, 1956 and 1966 Rose Bowls and the 1964 New York World's Fair. For a more extensive range of memorabilia items see the Scrapbook collection. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

(5) NEWSCLIPPINGS. 1927-1985. 0.2 cubic feet.

This series of news clippings augments the extensive collection contained within the scrapbooks. The first item relates the news of Falcone's new position as a faculty member at Michigan State College and the subsequent clippings demonstrate public interest in Falcone's career. Items include coverage of the Rose Bowl games, Falcone's retirement, and finally his obituary. For earlier news clippings related to Falcone's career before Michigan State see the scrapbook collection. Arranged chronologically.

(6) PROFESSIONAL PAPERS. 0.7 cubic feet. This series contains various documents related to Falcone's professional roles as MSU Band Director, Music Professor, musician and published writer. The documents are divided into categories including MSU Marching Band; organizations such as the MSU Alumni Band and the American Bandmaster Association; publications and manuscripts of articles written by Falcone; and teaching aids such as course outlines, notations and exercises. Note: Publications and manuscripts of sheet music arranged and/or edited by Falcone are located within the Sheet Music series. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

(7) SHEET MUSIC. 10.7 cubic feet.

This extensive series is separated into several categories: General, arranged alphabetically by composer; Method, including the First Division Band Course (FDBC) texts, arranged alphabetically by title; Manuscripts and Publications of musical scores arranged and/or edited by Leonard and Nicholas Falcone including FDBC's The Leonard V. Falcone Baritone Solo Series and The Leonard V. Falcone Trombone Solo Series. Also separated are the Eulenberg, Kalmus and Philharmonia Miniature Scores, which are arranged alphabetically by composer. Note: In Method, folder titles include the author if clearly indicated on the document.

(8) PHOTOGRAPHS. 1928-1985. 0.4 cubic feet.

For the most part, this series comprises of photographs of the Michigan State Marching Band, in particular the Rose Bowl trips of 1954 and 1956. Also included are photographs of the Concert Band, Band Shell, and various colleagues of Falcone. This series is arranged alphabetically. For a more extensive range of photographs see the Scrapbook series. Arranged alphabetically by subject.

(9) SCRAPBOOKS. 1916-1972. 50 total. 8.4 cubic feet.

This is the largest series in the collection and it contains numerous materials collected by Falcone and his family. They chart the progress of Falcone's career from his arrival in the United States in 1916 until his retirement as Director of MSU Bands in 1967. The materials contained in the scrapbooks offer the most comprehensive and varied documentation of Falcone's career, including early photographs, programs and newsclipping from his first years in the United States. Included are bound volumes of concert programs, many of which do not appear in the Concert Program series. Of particular interest are the several volumes Falcone dedicated to the Rose Bowls of 1954, 1956, and 1966. Also included are several volumes relating to Falcone's status as Director Emeritus, and his various roles outside of the university. Arranged chronologically.

(10) OVERSIZED MATERIALS. 3.5 cubic feet.

Included within the oversized materials are numerous manuscripts of sheet music arranged by Falcone. These manuscripts are handwritten and often include annotations. Also included are five manuscripts arranged by Nicholas Falcone. In addition to these items, the series contains band photographs, certificates and the numerous plaques and awards (such as the 1978 Honorary Degree) dedicated to Falcone over the years. Also included is a piece of concrete from the demolition of the Bandshell. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

(11) AUDIO/VISUAL MATERIALS. 5.3 cubic feet.

Items separated from the general body of the collection and placed in the Archives’ audio recording and motion-picture collections. This series is mostly comprised of reel-to-reel recordings but also includes cassette tapes, motion picture film reels, and one video tape. Subjects include audio performances by Falcone on the Baritone, MSU Bands, and Blue Lake Fine Arts Band. The motion picture reels mostly depict performances of MSU Bands, but also includes the 1967 tribute to Falcone and the 1978 Commencement when Falcone received his Honorary Doctorate. The video tape depicts footage of the MSU Marching Band at the Rose Bowl Tournaments of 1954, 1956, and 1966. Items are arranged chronologically within each general subject.


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Custodial History

Gift of Mrs. Betty (Cromer) Falcone.

Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Leonard Falcone Papers
4 Published And Cataloged
J. Palmer
April 1998
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US