The Wilfred Wilson Years: 1915-1926
In the summer of 1915, it was announced that the University had hired Wilfred Wilson to serve as the conductor of the University of Michigan Band. He was the first conductor of the band whose salary was provided by the University. Lovingly known as "Cap" by his students and friends, Wilson brought discipline and high musical standards to the band. Prior to coming to Ann Arbor, Wilson had enjoyed a long career conducting bands in the US Army and at various military academies. By the time he left Ann Arbor in 1926, the band had grown from 40 member to nearly 100.
The Sousa connection
Wilson was a good friend of John Philip Sousa and whenever the March King visited Ann Arbor, he always stayed with the Wilson family. When Wilson asked Sousa to write a march for the University of Michigan Band, Sousa responded by writing a waltz -- The Coeds of Michigan -- "because Michigan already has a great march."
The Michigan Band gains prominence
In December of 1925, the Michigan "Varsity" Band traveled to Detroit to record Varsity, Victors, and The Yellow and Blue. Occasionally, the band was heard on radio broadcasts. Also in 1925, the Nu Chapter of Kappa Kappa Psi -- the National Honorary Band Fraternity -- was established to promote and serve the University Bands.
One of the most important developments during the Wilson years was the appointment of Robert Campbell, the Treasurer of the University, as Faculty Band Manager. Known as "Uncle" Bob to the members of the band, Campbell promoted the cause of the University of Michigan Band as never had been done before. Through his "connections" -- he was also the mayor of Ann Arbor -- the band was given a permanent "home" when the University purchased the former Catholic student chapel known as Morris Hall.
In 1926, Wilfred Wilson resigned as conductor of University Bands to assume the position of Supervisor of Music for the Fort Worth, Texas schools. He was succeeded by Norman Larson, who served as conductor of the Michigan Band for the 1926-27 academic year.