The Nicholas Falcone Years: 1927-1934
Robert Campbell soon took notice of the outstanding musical and leadership abilities of Nicholas Falcone who at the time was the conductor of the University freshman Reserve Band. In 1927, Campbell arranged to have Falcone appointed as the conductor of the University of Michigan Band. With Falcone's appointment, the musical and marching abilities of the Michigan Bands attained higher standards than ever before. Falcone increased the size of the band and began to mold it into a symphonic organization.
Besides being a musician of the highest caliber, Falcone was a man of great courage and integrity. Despite the protests of many people in Ann Arbor at the time, he admitted African-Americans and women into the band. (Prior to 1932, the band was an all-male organization. Women, of course, were allowed only in the Concert Band. They were not admitted into the Marching Band until 1972.)
The first "script Ohio"
During the Nicholas Falcone years, the precision and showmanship of the "Varsity" Band at the football games underwent significant change as the drills were supervised by faculty members of the University ROTC. (The term, "Marching Band" would not be used until 1936.) In October 1927, the newly constructed Michigan Stadium was dedicated. The Michigan Band, in its new stadium performing before record crowds of over 83,000 people, began to execute marching drills and formations that were becoming more and more complex. At the Michigan-Ohio State University football game in 1932, the University of Michigan Band created the first "script Ohio" -- predating a similar formation now made famous by the OSU Band!
Falcone falls ill
Falcone's brilliant leadership came to an end in the early 1930s when he suffered the most terrible affliction that could befall a musician -- the loss of hearing. As Falcone's condition deteriorated, the band functioned as best it could under various student leaders. One of Falcone's top students, Bernard Hirsch, was appointed acting conductor for the 1934-35 school year. Finally in 1935, Falcone resigned.
Looking for a replacement, Charles Sink, director of the University Musical Society, sought the advice of noted bandmaster, Edwin Franko Goldman, who recommended a 34 year old public school music educator from Holbart, Indiana named William D. Revelli. Of the young Revelli, Goldman said, "give him your whole-hearted support, and Michigan's band will be the finest of its kind in the world." When the University of Michigan hired Revelli in 1935, no one could have imagined the dynamic leadership and inspiration that he would bring.