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Iowa History Daily: January 13 - A True Iowa Music Man

Iowa History Daily: On January 13, 1860, founder of the Iowa National Guard Band (originally 51st Iowa Volunteers) George W. Landers was born. A founding member of the Iowa Bandmasters Association, Landers' life of music reflects an important aspect of Iowa society and culture during the state’s early history.

Born in rural New York, Landers first learned music while apprenticing in a carriage factory which also served as a rehearsal space for the village band. Over seven years, the young apprentice learned as much about music as he did about carriages while mastering a variety of instruments. Moving into music full-time, Landers left the shop to join the John Robinson Circus where he played for three years.

In 1884, Landers arrived in Centerville, Iowa, to organize the band for the Iowa National Guard’s Second Regiment. Two years later, Landers enlisted and kicked off 33 years of military service in both the regular army and Iowa National Guard. When the Spanish-American War broke out, Landers organized all of the unit bands across the state into one Iowa National Guard Band known as the 51st Iowa Volunteers. 

After the military, Landers continued to influence instrumental music in Iowa. In 1921, his work culminated in the Municipal Band Law (House File 479), which allowed towns with 40,000 people to levy a tax to support a municipal band. 33 other states copied the law after great success across Iowa. He also worked with other band leaders to create the Iowa Bandmasters Association during 1928. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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