This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
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Men with Hats

18 December 2009

West Riding Imperial Orchestra

Top Hats. Where have they gone? A musician today (at least a gentleman) wears a special formal suit that has changed little from the early 19th century, and yet we got rid of the hat. Why? They must have been a lot of bother keeping them clean, storing them away backstage. What were the rules? Bowler hat until 5 and top hat after 5? No hat taller than the leader's? Did the tradition stop altogether at one time or were there some holdouts?

This dapper bunch, the  Imperial Orchestra, are from West Riding County in Yorkshire, England. I have found very little to identify the time but perhaps pre-WWI. The postcard was printed in Leeds. There was an Imperial Copperworks in Yorkshire which started a brass band in 1936, but this group is a wind ensemble with oboe, bassoon, and string bass. And the mustaches and frock coats seem from an earlier time. Note the horn in the center, another piston valve instrument which was very common in Britain until the 1950s.

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