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The Wisconsin Band
Originally formed in 1885 to provide a marching band for the ROTC, the Band began performing at non-military events the following year.
From 1901 to 1914, the Band was called the University Regimental Band.
In 1909, the year “On, Wisconsin!” debuted, the band had a new director, Charles A. Mann.
The Band separated into the First and Second Regimental Bands, also known as the Concert Band and the Second Band, under the direction of Edson Morphy during the 1920s, though they still performed at football games as the Combined Bands.
In the 1934, Ray Dvorak became director, and the modern halftime shows, with their elaborate formations and sound effects, began.
Mike Leckrone took over as director in 1969 and continued the tradition of innovative halftime performances. Leckrone also introduced the Varsity Band, a smaller group which provides music at athletic events other than football. In 2018 Leckrone announced his retirement after the 2018-2019 season. Cory Pompey currently serves as the band director beginning July 20, 2019.
Listen to a version of “On, Wisconsin!” by the Wisconsin Band.
“On, Wisconsin!” has been performed at nearly every athletic event, and a good share of non-athletic events, since its introduction. Of particular interest in this regard, the song was performed in San Francisco in 1915 as part of the Panama-Pacific International Exhibition world’s fair.
Several of the versions below include 40-60 seconds of the introduction, which is not often played today. Digital versions of “On, Wisconsin!” provided by UW-Madison Millls Music Library.
Listen to a 1915 performance by Prince’s band (Columbia A1762) below.
Listen to a 1921 vocal version by the All Star Collegians (Regal 8998-A) below.
Listen to a 1926 performance by the UW Band under E. W. Morphy (Victor 19990_A Scroll) below.
Listen to a 1926 performance by the UW Glee Club (Brunswick 3159-A) below.
Listen to a 1952 performance by the UW Band under Ray Dvorak (Souvenir E2-KB-5728) below. This version includes the additional verse that Carl Beck wrote in 1950.