University of Illinois Bands

Band music is perhaps the oldest tradition at the University of Illinois. From its earliest days, the University of Illinois Military Band provided martial music for the student brigade when military instruction was mandatory for all undergraduate men. The 1905 appointment of engineering student Albert Austin Harding '16 as the assistant director of bands marked the beginning of a new era in which bands expanded from the parade ground to the concert hall and athletic venues. In the 1920s, the March King, John Philip Sousa dubbed the University of Illinois Band "the world's greatest college band." Today, the University of Illinois boasts one of the largest and most comprehensive band programs in the country. More than 11,000 living alumni have been members of one of the athletic or concert bands.