Town brass bands proliferated in the 1840's and 50's due to the prosperity of the period and availability of brass instruments with valves such as the "Saxhorns" of Adolph Sax. These types of brass instruments initiated a movement that at one point in last third of the nineteenth century resulted in an estimated 10,000 brass bands in America. The original Providence Brigade Band was chartered in 1847, and was made up of tradesmen and professional people who were musicians by avocation. Numbered among them were a music professor, a carpenter, a blacksmith, and a jeweler. Their activities were typical of hundreds of similar bands throughout the country. They performed in concerts and parades, dedicated monuments to fallen heroes and in general fostered civic pride throughout the region.
Today the band carries on that tradition performing in the style of early American brass bands. Band members dress in military uniforms of the period and play original music of the time. Programs with special emphasis on music of the American Civil War are presented, bringing to life this critical chapter of our country through its music. Facts, anecdotes, and the legends of the songs and composers are used to enhance the unique qualities of this musical genre and time period.
We are a 501(c)(3) tax-deductible non-profit organization. Our mission is to educate the public about American culture during the 19th century as reflected in its music. Our music programs, with or without historical commentary, are very informative and are appropriate for schools, libraries, PTAs and civic organizations. We can also bring for display a number of musical artifacts from the mid-19th century consisting of instruments, music and accessories. These include a variety of instruments, see our instruments page. A complete set of handwritten part books for brass band dating from 1864 and a partial set from 1858. Some of the other artifacts are cymbals, bass drum mallets, two Civil War Musician’s swords, numerous pieces of sheet music from the period and many other artifacts.
Since its resurgence, the Providence Brigade Band has quickly attained a distinguished reputation in the Southeastern New England area. These are just a few of the events or organizations the band has performed for: