Charles Lee Hill Papers, 1933-1983 | East Texas Research Center
Primary Creator: Hill, Charles Lee (1910-2002)
Extent: 3.0 Linear Feet
Date Acquired: 02/08/1984
Subjects: Educators -- Texas, Hill, Charles Lee, 1910-, Musicians -- Texas, Music teachers -- Texas, Music theory, Stephen F. Austin State University -- Bands, World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal narratives
Charles Lee Hill was born in Houston Heights on November 15, 1910. He attended public schools in La Porte and Nacogdoches, Texas. In 1933 he graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University and was band director there during the summers of 1934 and 1935. From 1934 to 1935 he was high school band director in Troup, Texas, and from 1935 to 1942 he directed the high school band at Overton, Texas. While in the U. S. Army (1942-1945), he wrote for camp newspapers, led a medical detachment dance band, and composed music for camp shows. From 1946 to 1947 he played tenor saxophone and clarinet and arranged music for the Ted Johnson Society Band. After obtaining a master's degree in Music Education at North Texas State University in 1948, he became Associate Professor of Music at Sam Houston State University until 1953. Hill returned to public school teaching in 1953 and taught music and high school band at Lovelady, Texas until 1959. For the next several years he taught instrumental and vocal music in North Forest Independent School District in Houston. In 1966, having earned a Librarian Certificate during summer studies at Sam Houston State University, he became the Librarian at North Forest Middle School. He renewed his interest in music in 1982 when he was called upon to direct the Good Times Brass Band, a non-profit historical society in Houston dedicated to preservation of old band music.
Hill's first published composition was "Red Rhythm Valley" in 1942. Composed in 1939, it was frequently performed and was even played at the 1940 Democratic Convention in Chicago before finally finding a publisher. "At the Gremlin Ball" (1944) was a favorite of military bands and popular overseas. In addition to publishing original music and arrangements of popular music in jazz and swing styles, Hill also wrote articles about music theory, techniques, and education for music journals. Perhaps the highlight of his musical career was the composition of "Space City, U.S.A." as a tribute to the Space Center in Houston in 1962. The piece was premiered at the reception for President John F. Kennedy at the Houston airport in 1962.
Charles Lee Hill, 91, of Houston, passed away Monday, Oct. 14, 2002. Born in Houston Heights on Nov. 15, 1910, to Charles S. and Sue Lee Hill, and from age 3, raised by his father and stepmother
Martha Ola MacPherson Hill. He was an educator and pioneer and innovator in composing and arranging swing and jazz music for concert band. He studied in public schools in LaPorte and Nacogdoches, but was largely self-taught on the clarinet and saxophone and learned arranging from books and bandleaders with whom he associated.
After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree from Stephen F. Austin State University, in 1933, and doing additional study at Hardin Simmons University, he received an MME degree from University of North Texas in 1948. This was followed by postgraduate study at New York University, University of North Texas, the University of Houston, and Sam Houston State University. During World War II, he served from March 1942, through October 1945, in the U.S. Army.
All of Hill's 49 years of service as an educator came in the state of Texas. He was the first director of the Troup High School Band from 1934-35, and directed the band at Stephen F. Austin State University during the summers of 1934 and 1935, from 1935 to 1942, he directed the Overton High School Band. He was associate professor of music at Sam Houston State University from 1948 to1953, director of the Lovelady High School Band from 1953 to 1959, and director of instrumental and vocal music in the North Forest (Houston) School District from 1959 to 1966. From 1966 to 1986, he was librarian at North Forest.
Hill was a member of ASCAP and other organizations, including the Texas Music Education Association, the Association of Concert Bands, the Texas Bandmasters Association, and the Texas State Library Association. Also a Lions Club member since 1953, he was president twice in two different towns and was selected Lion of the Year numerous times.
In addition to his original compositions, he published over 20 band arrangements of the works of others. His most popular pieces have been Red Rhythm Valley and At the Gremlin Ball which was performed by the Air Force Band before a combined audience of 20 million people in 40 countries on five continents as well as a Command Performance at Buckingham Palace. He also wrote numerous articles for newspapers and music magazines.
Hill retired in 1986, at the age of 7 5 and was director of the popular Good Times Brass Band in Houston from 1982 to 1992. He was Band Director Emeritus of the Houston Space City Concert Band. A longtime member of the United Methodist Church, downtown Houston, he had been a Sunday school class song leader. He was also a former deacon of the Lovelady Methodist Church.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Charles Samuel and Sue Lee Hill; step-mother, Martha Ola MacPherson Hill; and sister, Robbie Jean Hill Guenzel Price. He is survived by his special friend, Madie Hartt; nieces and nephews, Jean Greenough, Martha Guenzel Allen, Paul Guenzel and John Guenzel; great nieces and great nephew, Martha White, Monica Rath and William White; great-great nieces, Brittany Rath, Allie Rath and Alison White; many friends and former students.
Access Restrictions: Open for research.
Acquisition Source: Control File
February 8th 1984, August 7th 1984, and January 30th 1985.
Gifts from Basil Barbee and Chalres Lee Hill.
Browse by Box:
- Box 4
- Folder 1: Nacogdoches music and social life in the 1920's and 1930's. Reminiscences in letter of Hill, Nov. 10, 1984; advertisement for Eddie & Sugar Lou's Hotel Tyler Orchestra 1929-1931 record, 1984
- Folder 2: Johnny Crawford and His Orchestra. Reminiscences in newspaper clippings, 1985; arrangement for closing theme used 1928-1933 [transcribed by Hill, 1985]; black & white photograph, 1930 [with identification list]
- Folder 3: Good Times Brass Band. Program and color snapshot, 1984
- Folder 4: Photograph of Hill by his portrait as honoree in SFA Band Director's Hall of Fame, Aug. 1984
- Folder 5: Christmas letter from C. L. Hill to friends advertising his ETRC website, December 1999. Pamphlet of bibliography and biographies of C. L. Hill [n.d., however in a letter to the ETRC director, states it was printed in 1997], The Detroit Concert Band Newsletter Winter 1985-86, article "Indiana's March King, Fred Jewell" (photocopy), advertisement for New Year Dance with Charles Lee Hill "Hottest" of Hot musicians (photocopy)
- Folder 6: Circus Fanfare newsletter, December 1984, June 1985, August 1986
- Folder 7: Retirement letter to Northwood Middle School, 1986. (photocopy), Letter from Mattie Morgan about her father Charles E. Morgan Jr. "Sugar Low" (photocopy).
- Folder 8: Photograph of Charles Lee Hill and John Whitwell, information about the Hall of Fame video and the "Serenade to Britain" video.
- Video 1: Hall of Fame award 1984, "Serenade to Britain."
- Audiocassette 1: Music of Charles Lee Hill, Good Times Brass Band-Houston Texas, March 14, 1986
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