HISTORY OF THE BOERNE VILLAGE BAND
The Boerne Village Band was organized in 1860 by Dr. Karl
Dienger, who had migrated from Germany in 1855. At the same time he
organized the Boerne Gesang Verein. Until 1885 he was in charge of both
groups and he combined singing fests with the German band music all over
the Texas Hill Country.
In 1840 Ottmar von Behr came to Sisterdale
where he became a part of the Sisterdale Vocal Quartet. Two of his
children, Jennie and Ottmar, were active in the band during the early
years. Jennie's husband, Fritz Fischer, taught his nephews, Ottmar, Jr.,
Arthur and Oscar to play musical instruments. In time, both Oscar and
Ottmar Behr became directors of the band. Oscar's daughter, Roma, married
Alvin Herbst. Their son, Kenneth Herbst, first played trumpet with the
band when he was just 11 years old. Kenneth, a Boerne veterinarian, has
been the band's director since 1980. Continuing the family tradition to
the fourth generation were Kenneth's sons, Kenneth, Jr. and Clinton. They
both played in the band during their school years growing up in Kendall
Another original member of the band was Alexander Kaiser.
His music took him into the Civil War as a ten year old "drummer boy"
after his parents were killed by Indians near Boerne. In 1879 he built the
center room of his house as a place for the band to practice, with him
playing the drums.
The Henry Schrader family migrated from Germany
in 1869. Henry, Sr. played the cornet, or pick horn, in the band for over
fifty years. He began playing when he was fifteen years old. His son,
Henry, Jr. learned to play from his father also played in the band for
over fifty years.
The band members came from all of the communities in the
area and played for Sangerfests and dancing in all of them, namely,
Bergheim, Kendalia, Welfare, Waring, Comfort and Boerne.
two World Wars the band was not very active but did not disband. It was
after World War II that the band re-assembled stronger than ever. This
re-assembled group included Henry Schrader, Jr., Eugene Ebell, Erhard
Ebner and the Grosser brothers. They also began at this time to develop
the band in the Boerne High School.
No longer just a backup for an
old time Sangerfest, the band is prominently known in its own right. In
1986 the group obtained authentic uniforms with the help of Otto Schicht
from Bavaria. These uniforms were worn for the first time during the 1986
The band plays not only for Boerne
Bergesfest but all over Texas: At the San Antonio Fiesta and Folk Life
Festival- At the New Braunfels Wurstfest-in Helotes - in Fredericksburg-at
the "Indianola Pilgrimage" honoring the immigration of Germans to Texas-at
the grand opening of the restored General Land Office in Austin. The Texas
House of Representatives honored the band in 1991 "for providing the
people of the State of Texas with the finest in German music and for
keeping alive German music as part of Our Heritage." In 1995 an official
Texas Historical marker was dedicated on the Main Plaza in Boerne to
commemorate "Early German Music in Boerne, Texas" and its significance to
the community heritage. The band played concerts in Germany for Germans In
1988, Kenneth Herbst was honored by the President of the Federal Republic
of Germany with the Friendship Award for the Preservation and Continuation
of German Music in the State of Texas. He was also presented a Tenor Horn
from the Government of Germany.
This band fills the summer air with
music every other Tuesday night in June and July. The Abendkonzerte
(Evening Concert) is held on the Main Plaza in Boerne from 7:30-9:00. The
City of Boerne Cultural Event is free. The audience brings folding chairs
or blankets to lounge around the gazebo, listening to the nostalgic
waltzes and polkas.
Source: Files in the Boerne Public Library