He was born as Vincent Schrotenbach in Baden bei Wien near Vienna, Austria. He received training on the violin and bugle as a youth switching to trumpet at age 12. At age 15, he purchased his first instrument, a rotary valve trumpet. Bach desired to be a musician, but that career was not supported by his family.
Bach graduated from Maschinenbauschule with an engineering degree, at the age of 20. During his subsequent compulsory military service he served in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial Navy. That was followed by a period as an elevator operator before being called-up a second time during which he served as a military musician in the Austrian Marine Band.
His military experience inspired him to go against his family’s wishes and pursue a career in music. Vincent Schrotenbach toured Europe performing on an Alexander cornet, but while in England in 1914 became entangled in the politics of World War I finding it necessary to escape confinement as an enemy alien. He changed his name to Vincent Bach and fled to the United States.
Vincent Bach, American
Upon his arrival with a Besson instrument, he wrote to Karl Muck, conductor of the Boston Symphony, who employed him. A year later, he was performing as principal trumpet with the Metropolitan Opera. During his first 3 years in the US, Bach pursued many musical ventures including composing solos, recording on the Edison label, writing a short pamphlet version of his later ‘’The Art of Trumpet Playing’’ and endorsing Holton instruments.
While touring in Pittsburgh, Bach’s mouthpiece was destroyed by a repairman’s attempts to rework it. On his return to New York, Bach began experimenting with brass mouthpieces. Bach also realized the need for a higher quality instruments when he served as bandmaster of the 306th Field Artillery band as a result of finding himself inducted once again, this time in the American military during World War 1.
The last time Vincent Bach took a job as a performer was during 1926, one year after attaining his US citizenship, when he accepted one more orchestral position for only a matter of months. His only other public performances were as a soloist on the radio and records between 1927 and 1929 promoting his instruments.
(Main Article Vincent Bach Corporation)
Starting with a mouthpiece business in the back of the Selmer music store in New York after being released from the military in 1918, Bach expanded to the production of trumpets and cornets under the “Stradivarius” name (to project an image of quality) in 1924. By 1928, he relocated to a Bronx factory adding trombones to his product line. The company survived the depression and by 1953 moved to Mount Vernon New York. Collaborating with Georges Mager, during World War II, Bach developed the large bore C Trumpet that would become the standard of symphonic trumpeters in America. In 1961, at 71 years of age, Bach sold his company to the Conn-Selmer corporation even though some of the other 13 bids he received were higher.
Bach’s instruments attained the reputation for quality he aspired to with the name and became widely used. Two of Bach’s bugles figured prominently in the funerals of US Presidents, one being played for John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower and Lyndon Johnson which now resides on display at Arlington National Cemetery and a second which was used at the funeral of Ronald Reagan after a week long process in which the Reagan family, Bach’s grand-nephew, the military and the bugler involved decided not to use the Kennedy bugle in favor of that the performer had used for two decades, which was subsequently retired to the Reagan Library.
After the sale of the business, Vincent Bach stayed on as a researcher continuing to work until at least 1974. Bach died 8 January 1976 in New York. He is buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York.
- "Vincent Bach". Bach Loyalist. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
- Priestly, Brian, Dave Gelly, Tony Bacon, The sax & brass book, MIller Freeman Books, San Francisco, CA, 1998, P. 1970
- Hempley, Roy & Lehrer, Doug, Play it again Mr. Bach, 2002, Bachology essay at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=4 retrieved 5/31/2011
- "History of Bach Stradivarius". Bach Brass. Retrieved 23 July 2010.
- Note: This was the same field artillery regiment credited with bringing the "Cassion Song" to John Philip Sousa in 1917. The result, "The Caisson Song," would become the official U.S. Army march, "The Army Goes Rolling Along." See http://skyways.lib.ks.us/orgs/mcb/Library/M0126.htm
- Hempley, Roy & Lehrer, Doug, TO THE BACK OF THE CONCERT HALL THE EVOLUTION OF BACH STRADIVARIUS C TRUMPETS, 2011 at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=12 retrieved 8/26/2011
- Rehrig, William, Hoe, Robert, The heritage encyclopedia of band music: composers and their music: Volume 1, Integrity Press, 1991, p.33
- Hempley, Roy & Lehrer, Doug, Bach’s Bugles, 2004 at http://www.bachbrass.com/bachology/article.php?uid=7 retrieved 5/31/2011
- Royce, Knut, Bugle will go to Reagan Library, Newsday, June 10, 2004
- Dundas, Richard, 20th Century Brass Musical Instruments in the United States, p.5
- Pavlakis, Christopher, The American music handbook, The Free Press, Calhun Publishing, 1974, p. 655,
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