The first band in the county was organized in the town of Chemung in 1837. It had two French horns, a tenor horn, two key bugles, a valve trumpet, a bass trombone, five clarinets, two octave flutes, and a bass drum. Its first concert was at the Eagle Tavern in Elmira. The number of local bands grew greatly after the Civil War when nearly every small town had its own brass and percussion band. By the late 1800s, semi-professional groups such as Hager’s Band, the Pine Valley Band, and the Zim Band were playing at conventions, parades, parks, and fairs throughout the region and state.
Arnold Hager was music director at the Elmira Reformatory. In 1902, he took over as bandleader of what then became Hager’s Band. The band performed locally and throughout the region. It was the official band of the State of New York at the Old Home Week celebration in Auburn in 1906. Hager’s Band became the Elks Band in 1922.
Hager's Band, early 1900s
Pine Valley Band
The Pine Valley Band performed in concerts and parades throughout the region from around 1906 through the 1920s. It played each year at the annual reunion of Civil War veterans in Catlin until the event ended in 1915.
Pine Valley Band, 1907
In the late 1880s, Eugene “Zim” Zimmerman, donated instruments to local children, and created the first Zim Band. The band was active until 1900, then reformed in 1909 with teenage and adult musicians. It played regularly in the Zim Bandstand in Horseheads’ Teal Park until 1916.