June 26, 1920
Page 3
Candidate Warren G. Harding, Once a Village Bandsman, Tells “Musical America” He Wants Federal Aid For Music

“I am in Favor of Placing the Government Squarely Behind the Nation-Wide Effort to Bring Music Into Its Own,” Declares Republican Presidential Nominee—Favors National Conservatory with Branches Throughout Country and Wants Scope of Musical Instruction Widely Expanded in Public Schools—How the Senator Began His Career As a Musician in Marion, Ohio
By Aldred T. Marks

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 16.—Senator Warren G. Harding, the Republican nominee for the presidency, would probably have become a politician even if he had not performed on that alto horn in the Marion, Ohio, Silver Cornet Band—but that’s what really put him in politics. The Senator says so himself.
Senator Harding, musician and lover of music, is a big and impressive personality—a man of genia1 presence and magnetic manner. 1f one word were to be used in describing him, that word Would be “force.” He is approachable and thoroughly democratic; direct, deliberate and incisive in speech, never hesitating for a word and using the right word always, whether in heated debate on the floor of the Senate or as the subjective end of an interview with a fellow newspaperman.
These are the impressions absorbed by the MUSICAL AMERICA representative as he talked with Senator Harding in his office on the first floor of the big Senate office building in Washington.
Few men in public 1ife to-day are as well informed in a musical way as is Senator Harding. It is a far cry from playing the alto horn in the village band is listening to grand opera in Rome, Paris and Berlin, but Senator Harding’s love for music which manifested itself in the first has not ended in the last.
Senator Harding is fond of opera and good music, and is a patron and devotee of musical enterprises and activities in both his home city of Marion and in the national capital, and it may be said in passing that he knows good music when he hears it.
Favors National Conservatories
Nor is Senator Harding’s interest in music entirely confined to the enjoyment he derives in listening to it. He is in favor of what may be termed the “nationalizing” of music, to be brought about by the establishment by the government of a National Conservatory of Music, and such branches as may be found necessary to provide the opportunity for a musical education in those sections of the country more or less remote from the central institution.
“Whether this government-instituted and government-supervised enterprise will be best carried on through the enactment of the Fletcher Bi1l or some other measure.” said Senator Harding, “1 am not prepared at this moment to say. But I am in favor of placing the government squarely behind the nation-wide effort to bring music into its own and to establish a definite and permanent place for it in our national activities.
“How this can best be done so that the object desired can be achieved in the large way in which we must do this is but a matter of detail and 1 do not hesitate to say is to a considerable extent in the hands of the musical people of the country themselves.
Favors School Music
“I have always favored the teaching of music, both vocal and instrumenta1, in our schools, and 1 shall ever feel that these studies should have an important and essential place in the educational curriculum of our institutions of learning from the lowest to the highest.
“I do not feel free to say that our present Bureau of Education should be broadened in scope and expanded into a department of education to embrace music teaching and supervision, with a Cabinet official at its head. As a matter of fact, I have not given the subject sufficient consideration to have reached an opinion. I have no insurmountable obstacle in the way of such expansion, however, and can appreciate the advantages it would have over the present plan.
“Generally speaking, I am with the musical people and 1 am for them; I know music in an unpretentious way and I love it; we cannot have too much music; we need it—the world needs it—probably more than ever before, and I am the friend of every effort to give it its rightful place in our national life.”
Senator Harding says that many persons in his home town remember the days when he marched with the village band, at seventeen years of age, proudly tooting on the alto horn, and earning the first few dollars which started the way to the Harding fortune of to-day. It’s a joke now, he says, but it was far from a joke then. He considered it serious business, and the people of the town thought it was even worse than that. In fact, young Harding made an earnest endeavor to become a great musician right there. His alto horn could be beard long after 10 p. m., when the villagers wanted to go to sleep, and it would be the town alarm clock in the morning. He “blew awful hard,” the old folks say, and it is said that the leader of the aggregation called him aside one day and asked him if he could not “tone it down” some, as the persecutor of the bass drum had complained that he could not be heard at all.
The first political meeting Harding attended was as a member of the band, and from that moment he was “in politics.” His natural bent is politics but he got his introduction via the band route.
In the Harding home at Wyoming Avenue in the northwest suburbs of the national capital, there is one of the handsomest appointed music rooms to be found in any Washington home.
Mrs. Harding, herself a musician and a graduate or the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, put in seven hours a day for over three years, just prior to her marriage, in practicing on the piano. She is as fond of music as is Senator Harding.
Upon the return of Senator Harding from the Chicago convention he found awaiting him in Washington a telegram from his long-time friend, John Philip Sousa, the well-known band leader, which read: “Bless your musical soul! May God's harmonies be with you forever!”
[Warren Gamaliel Harding was the 29th president of the United States from 1921 until his death in 1923. A member of the Republican Party, he was one of the most popular U.S. presidents to that point.—Wikipedia]


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