2013-01-10 / Columns

News & Reviews

My Earliest Musical Sounds
By Edward F. Keller, D.D.S.
1732 Golf Drive Bismarck, ND 58503

As a little German Russian child on my Strasburg, North Dakota farm in the 1920s and 1930s, I was exposed to four kinds of music: Accordion sounds of waltzes and polkas permeated all house parties and dance halls. They were the same ethnic musical notes heard on the train from Odessa, Russia to Hamburg, Germany, on the boat to Ellis Island, N.Y., on the run to Aberdeen,S.D., and Eureka, S.D., and on the oxcart trip to Strasburg, N.D.Accordion music was cheerful, smile provoking, spirited and toe tapping. There was an abundance of accordion music in Strasburg.

There was the guitar cowboy singing music on the radio waves of the Carter family out of a Texas station. My 7th and 8th grade guitar strumming teacher, Levi Cruschwutz,taught me to sing and play “Cowboy Jack”… “He was just a lonely cowboy, with a heart so brave and true, etc.” My father acquired records of John Philip Sousa, band marches. I played them on the Victrola. The Linton City Band was my favorite event during Fourth of July celebrations at Seeman Park in Linton. At the band stand I became engrossed by the snappy,fast-moving, exciting marches, pushed by the cymbals and drums. Our Rosenthal country Catholic Church featured a pump organ. Ignatz Kuhn, Fred Bosch and Tony Hagel reverently intoned “The High Mass of theAngels,” “Schtiele Nacht” and “O Grosser Gott” and two benediction songs. After leaving for my seminary high school in Ohio my music teacher, Father Luktemeyer, taught me to play violin for his orchestra. He would play records of classical music for us and tell the story of the music to us. I have never forgotten when he narrated the William Tell music. I also learned to play the tuba in the band. Band music at athletic events consisted of Marches and the “Star Spangled Banner.”

As time passed, swing band music, new country western and more came to my attention. I liked all the music I was exposed to except rock music. There I had a conflict with loudness, melody, harmony and lyrics. But my very first four kinds of music from my childhood left an indelible impression on my heart. It didn’t matter how long or how far I was away from those very early musical sounds… when I heard them my face became a smile and my toes began to tap, or both.

Till next time.

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