PROVO — The Nauvoo Brass Band today consists of 17 youthful musicians, many of them young women who are serving a summer service mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The musicians move about the touristy town in a horse-drawn bandwagon, playing favorites and patriotic music. At night they do a rendezvous warm-up in front of the Cultural Hall and at sunset by the Mississippi River east of the Historic Nauvoo Visitors Center.

The original Nauvoo Brass Band, under the direction of British LDS convert William Pitt, a left-handed fiddler and flutist, was the official band for the Nauvoo Legion, the local militia, and was once under the direction of Edward Duzette, an Englishman who came to Nauvoo in 1842.

The band also played at dances and patriotic gatherings, accompanied church choirs and performed for the Nauvoo Temple capstone ceremony.

According to the Daughters of the Utah Pioneers, quoting early church musician William Clayton, LDS founder Joseph Smith organized a band to accompany drills of the Nauvoo Legion. Pitt was named captain and Duzette chief musician.

The group erected a concert hall in 1843 and played throughout the town and on special occasions. They dressed in white with blue sashes and wore straw hats.

When Joseph Smith and his brother were killed in 1844 the brass band went before the wagon carrying their bodies. As they lay in state the band played outside the house.

On Feb. 9, 1846, at Brigham Young's request, band members assembled in the upper room of the temple to play.

A few days later, on Feb. 11, 1846, the first group left Nauvoo with Young, crossing the frozen Mississippi River. The band crossed with them.

While traveling, the band stopped at settlements and played, earning money for the journey. The musicians also provided nightly entertainment for the pioneers.

Eventually the band separated but gathered again when the settlers reached the Salt Lake Valley.


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