Solid Brass - The Leonard Falcone Story

Solid Brass is the story of Leonard Falcone, whose journey to America from Italy through Ellis Island at age 16 led to one of the most unlikely and inspirational stories in the history of the American Band Movement. Recognized in his lifetime as the world’s greatest euphonium virtuoso, Falcone was Director of Bands at Michigan State University for 40 years, and through his leadership, discipline and musicianship, helped to establish a national reputation for the MSU Department of Music and Spartan Marching Band. Following his retirement as Director of Bands in 1966, he served the university for an additional 17 years as Professor of Low Brass.

Drawing from a myriad of sources, Rita Comstock’s insightful biography chronicles Falcone’s remarkable life, including his early years growing up in culturally rich Roseto Valfortore, Italy, his success as a silent movie theater musician, the music department challenges during the Depression and war years, the two Rose Bowl trips via private rail car courtesy of Oldsmobile, performing with the Michigan State Band for four sitting presidents, and his special relationship with Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, where he would spend his final summers conducting and working with young students.

Through it all, Leonard Falcone’s greatest legacy was the example he set as a man of honesty and integrity, who valued his family, his adopted country, and the importance of striving for excellence.

Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp - The Early Years

After 40 years, thousands of concerts, and tens of thousands of students, Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp is an internationally recognized arts center and home of an outstanding classical/jazz radio station, Blue Lake Public Radio.

What most Blue Lake devotees don’t know is that the camp nearly closed in its infancy. A perfect storm of black-hearted bankers, fund-raising mistakes, undercapitalization, and over enrollment nearly sank the camp on the zany night of an historic Detroit Symphony performance in the camp dining hall.

Now the only person who could tell the whole story of the search and rescue mission that saved this summer school of the arts, founder Fritz Stansell, tells all.

A must read for anyone who loves the fine arts, this against all odds story, set in the Manistee National Forest, is a touching tribute to the tenacity of a small band of music educators who helped rescue the camp and make it the international success it is today.