Christian, Bobby

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Bobby Christian

Biography

Born: October 20, 1911

Died: December 31, 1991

Country: Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

Studies: McKinley High School

Teachers: F. Huffer, A. Walthall, Roy Shield

Mention: Inducted into the Percussive Arts Society (1989) PAS Hall of Fame[1]



Bobby Christian had an illustrious career that included a wide variety of musical styles and experiences. He began drum lessons when he was six and before age ten he was also playing timpani and marimba. As a teen he played with the Louis Panico band and the Paul Riker band.

He spent some time in Hollywood playing in a studio band at Warner Bros, as well as for MGM, Universal and Republic Studios. An important break came when he played with Paul Whiteman's orchestra in the late 1930s. Other highlights of his career included playing percussion with the NBC Orchestra in Chicago and with the Chicago Symphony on occasion in the 1960s, as well as with the Toscannini Symphony of the Air and the Percy Faith Orchestra.

Christian's association with the Dick Schory Percussion Pops Orchestra allowed him ample opportunity to play a large number of percussion instruments at one time - something he was known for. Percussionist Duanne Thamm described Bobby's one-man-band act as follows: "He played 'Sabre Dance' sitting down, two right mallets on the xylophone, left hand playing two timpani, bass drum with the right foot and bells in front of the xylophone. He brought the house down!"

In addition to his energetic performances, Christian was a talented arranger, composer, conductor and clinician. His enthusiasm for these other facets of his musical life is remembered by many who came in contact with him.

Christian is also remembered as a loving family man. He had four daughters, two sons, 25 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. John Nasshan, Jr., Christian's eldest grandchild, who delivered the eulogy at his funeral recalled, "All you ever have to do is mention the name Bobby Christian to anyone who has ever known him and their eyes light up. Each musician that knows him well has a favorite story to tell and they are all about an impossible chart that he sight-read perfectly, a lesson they took with him, how much they learned playing in his band or how big his family is.... I have been lucky to feel his love for both music and family."

William F. Ludwig, Jr. participated in the close of the Funeral Mass and described it as follows: "Twenty drummers performed the retreat from the cathedral on muffled drums. In addition, a trio of drummers performed Harvey Firestone's 'Drummer's Farewell' at the gravesite."[2]

Works for Percussion

A 9/8 Movement on Accented RollsPercussion Ensemble; Solo Percussion; Snare Drum; Piano
A Bit of Jazz – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
A Roman HolidayPercussion Quintet; Percussion (5)
AllemandePercussion Sextet; Percussion (6)
Andantino – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Assembly of Trumpets – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Timpani
Blue Fog – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Vibraphone
Concerto for Tympani – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Timpani; Band
Concerto for Tympani and Orchestra – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Timpani; Orchestra
Contemporary Marimba Solos, Book 1 – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Marimba
Contemporary Marimba Solos, Book 2 – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Marimba
Contemporary Marimba Solos, Book 3 – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Marimba
DakotaPercussion Septet; Percussion (7)
Danza Espagnuola – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Multiple Percussion; Piano
Double Piano – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Filmlandia – Percussion Septet; Percussion (7)
Forzando Piano – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
March of the Toy Dolls – Percussion Sextet; Percussion (6)
Marimbola – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Percussion; Marimba
Mezzo Forte (Bolero) – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Piano (pp) – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Poem for Percussion – Percussion Sextet; Percussion (6)
Queen of ScotsPercussion Duet; Percussion Duo; Percussion (2); Snare Drum
R.A.F. – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Rondino – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Multiple Percussion; Piano
Strollin – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum
Study in 5/4 Time – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Teen-Tam-TumPercussion Quintet; Percussion (5)
Timpani Suite – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Timpani
Tornado – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum
Toy Drummer – Percussion Ensemble; Solo Ensemble; Snare Drum; Piano
Twin Sight – Percussion Duet; Percussion Duo; Percussion (2)

References

  1. PAS.org Accessed March 24, 2013
  2. Bobby Christian Bio