Saul Fisherís Career Remembered

"Notes da Capo" by John Puffenbarger

February 1999

Saul Fisher wanted his students to appreciate music. In a recent interview, he stated, "I always hoped that some of the students I taught would become professional musicians or teachers. And some of them did. But if they didnít, I hoped that I had prepared them to become consumers of music'

As a child, Saul's knowledge of music consisted of little more than the general understanding that "black notes were sung faster than white notes" When he began playing clarinet in the school band in his hometown of Buckhannon, he was not too serious about it until he heard a performance by a guest clarinetist one summer at the West Virginia Wesleyan band camp. After hearing how a clarinet really should sound, Saul became serious about practicing, hoping to duplicate the sound and technique that he had heard.

Saul continued to refine his musical skills as a student at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, resulting in his selection to the West Virginia All-State Orchestra. After graduation, he chose to pursue a career in music. He continued his education at the prestigious Julliard School of Music in New York City, where he studied with many well-known musicians and performed at Radio City Music Hall.

World War 11 changed the lives of many people. Saul's life was affected when he temporarily abandoned his music career to serve in the Merchant Marines. Following his period of service, he returned to Julliard, but found that the school did not provide as many performance opportunities as before. Consequently, Saul enrolled at West Virginia Wesleyan College and eventually earned a teaching certificate.

After graduation, he accepted a job at Van High School in Boone County, where he found a small, but enthusiastic group of students. Under his direction, the band program grew impressively. Saul's next career opportunity arose when he learned of the resignation of Frank Schroder as Director of the Buckhannon-Upshur High School Band. In 1950, Saul applied and was awarded the directorship of the B-U Band.

In the early 1950ís, the B-U band averaged sixty members. Half-time shows were based on themes and involved the formation of pictures in accordance to scripts read by the PA announcer. During concert season, the band performed quality music with outstanding musicianship.

Because of its fine reputation, the B-U Band was chosen as a clinic band for the WVMEA Conference in Morgantown. The band later traveled to Washington, D.C. as guests of the United States Navy Band. in Washington, band members heard the Navy Band in concert, practiced with Navy Band members, and toured the city. Another year, the band attended the Virginia Beach Band Festival.

In the late 1950s, the B-U Band continued to grow (averaging eighty members) and to earn superior ratings at band festivals. In 1959, a new Buckhannon-Upshur High School was built, combining a city and county division. The band received new blue and white uniforms and practiced in a new facility. During these years, Saul served as President of the West Virginia Bandmasters Association, was a member of Phi Beta Mu, and was WVMEA President when the 1963 MENC Southern Division Conference met in Charleston, WV.

In 1964, Saul resigned his teaching position to open SEFCO Plumes (Saul E. Fisher, COmpany), a business he ran for twenty years. He kept his hands in music by playing in the pit orchestra for operas at West Virginia Wesleyan College, the Leonard Hanigen Band, and a local saxophone quartet. Saul has always believed that music is to be performed and shared.