Today in NC State History: Music takes hold on campus

September 19, 2012
By Bill Krueger

PrintMusic has always been a part of the fabric of NC State. Imagine halftime of football games without the marching band, or basketball games without the pep band. Imagine the wide range of concerts – from classical to rock – that have taken place on campus. Imagine the Bell Tower without bells. (Yes, we know that there have been times when all people could do was imagine bells in the Bell Tower.)

Much of that musical presence on campus got its start in the 1920s. According to Alice Elizabeth Reagan’s North Carolina State University: A Narrative History, that decade was “the era of great expansion in music” at the university.

It was on this day in 1924 that the Department of Music was established in the School of Science and Business. But music director Percy W. Price (known as “Daddy” Price to countless students) also encouraged the development of an ROTC band, a concert band, a glee club and an orchestra. Price also founded Mu Beta Psi, a musical honorary fraternity, according to Reagan.

music_notes1Price had come to NC State in 1918 as an instructor in textiles, but his interest in music led him to volunteer to help the band.

“When he took over the reins, there were a few old battered instruments, no music, and very little equipment of any kind,” according to the Alumni News. “This would have discouraged most men, but P.W. was not that kind. The old instruments were cleaned, repaired, and put into use.”

Reagan notes that by the end of the decade, Price had created a band to play at football games and one to play weekly concerts on WPTF radio station.

Fittingly, NC State’s music department is now housed in the Price Music Center.

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