Karl Lawrence King Biography
Karl L. King was an American march music bandmaster and composer, renowned for his work “Barnum and Bailey's Favorite”, one of the most popular circus march music. Apart from being a brilliant composer, he was also an excellent baritone and cornet player as well. His march compositions became famous in circus bands, which seriously lacked standard march music till then. Many circus companies adopted his compositions and much of them are now regarded as classic works in this genre. His contributions to circus music earned him the title "March King", which he shared with another stalwart, John Philip Sousa. Karl King’s compositions had a standout quality as it matched with the rhythm of the acts and he quickly rose to leadership positions in leading circus bands like Buffalo Bill and the Barnum and Bailey. He concentrated only in circus band music and contributed much more than any other composer. Aerial waltzes and circus galops were his specialty and these were in popular demand during his time and, even after several years of his death, no other composer could beat the popularity of his compositions. He was a humble man, who led a common life and was greatly respected and loved as a spectacular composer and a great human being. Read on to learn more about this legend.
- Allied Honor, 1955
- Attorney General, 1921
- The Big Cage, 1934
- Big Four, 1955
- Bolivar, 1918
- Cyrus The Great, 1921
- The Desert Patrol, 1934
- Diamond Jubilee March, 1961
- Emblem of Freedom, 1910
- Fidelity, 1912
- Flying Cadets, 1942
- Freedom City, 1955
- Iowa Centennial March, 1946
- Kentucky Sunrise, 1919
- Liberty Fleet, 1942
- Lt. Commander, 1934
- March Ponderoso, 1910
- The Melody Shop, 1910
- Miss Liberty, 1955
- Mystic Call, 1913
- Karl King was elected to the American Bandmasters Association, 1929.
- Karl King receives the Honorary Doctor of Music degree from Phillips University in Enid, Oklahoma, 1953.
- He was elected to the Academy of Wind and Percussion Arts, 1962.
- The Viaduct over the Des Moines River, Fort Dodge is dedicated to Karl King, 1962.
- Karl King was elected to the Society of European Stage Actors and Composers, 1966.
- Karl King won the Kappa Kappa Psi National Honorary Band Fraternity Distinguished Service Award, 1967.
- Karl King was elected as the Honorary Life President of the American Bandmasters Association, 1967-1971.
- He won the Edwin Franco Goldman Award of the American School Bandmasters Association, 1971.
- In 1975, Karl King won the Iowa Award given posthumously, which is the highest award a state can bestow on an individual.
- Fort Dodge Band Shell was renovated and named in honor of Karl King in 1976
- The National Band Association inducts Karl King to the Hall of Fame of Distinguished Band Conductors in 1980.
- Karl King was inducted into the Circus Ring of Fame in 1995.
- A Karl King Statue was unveiled in Fort Dodge in 2006.
KARL LAWRENCE KING TIMELINE
Karl Lawrence King was born in Paintersville Village, Ohio.
He and his family moved to Canton.
Karl King joined a circus band.
Karl King performed in the Yankee Robinson Circus band under Theo Stout.
He joined the Barnum and Bailey band under the directorship of Ned Brill.
He became a full-time conductor at Sells Floto Circus.
Karl King became the bandmaster in Sells-Floto Circus
He married Ruth Lovett, a calliope performer.
He moved to the Barnum and Bailey Circus band as band master.
Karl King got into the music publishing business by establishing the ‘K.L. King Music House’.
He settled in Fort Dodge.
The Iowa Band Law was enacted, largely because of Karl King’s effort.
Karl King directed the largest mass band ever with 188 high school bands that presented about 13,000 musicians.
Karl King died at the age of 80.
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