FlashBack Friday - Ralph Hermann

Mr. Ralph Hermann
He was born 100 years ago - quite the FlashBack!  Now, what do I know about Ralph Hermann?  Why would I know anything about Ralph Hermann?  What did he do?  Do you know what he was famous for?   Well, let me tell you...he was my Uncle - My Dad's Brother.  He lived in New York.  He worked for ABC.  He was a musician, composer and director.  He was very talented, being able to play numerous musical instruments, write entire musical scores for plays, conduct orchestras...and teach.When he was conducting the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which he did often, he was quite serious - well sometimes.  Even then, he was known to crack some kind of joke
and start people laughing.  He was ALWAYS late for everything.  He'd make plans to be at our house for dinner and be so late, my mom would be furious, thinking the meal was ruined!  

Born February 9, 1914, In Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Died July 24, 1994, In Manhasset, New York

Ralph Hermann is Seated at the Piano, holding the Saxophone

There are videos and an audio recording of some of my 
Uncle's Music at the bottom of this post.  Don't miss it!
Ralph Hermann & His Wife, Josephine

Well, let me tell you why I selected Ralph Hermann as my first FlashBack Friday.  He is my Uncle and Josephine in the picture above is my Aunt.
Ralph Hermann (on the right), with his Brother William - Yes, you guessed it...William, Uncle Ralph's Baby Brother, is My Father.
Ralph Hermann in his later years
Josephine Hermann (Ralph's Widow) in center, Daughter, Jeanne at left

And that makes Jeanne above, my Cousin.  We were only several months apart in age.  She has 2 younger sisters and a younger brother.  I had 2 younger sisters...no brothers.  While we lived 1,000 miles apart - her in New York, me in Wisconsin - her family would occasionally come back to Wisconsin and we would travel to New York to visit.

Now...for more about who the Man, Ralph Hermann was... 

First, let me share with you How I Saw My Uncle (and my dad)...He was of course my Dad's Brother, My Uncle.  He was funny, almost always laughing and being silly.  

Not My Uncle's Car

He also tinkered with Model T Fords.  I remember being about 10 or 11 years old, on a trip to New York, seeing my Uncle's Model T Ford he'd restored.  It was fabulous!
When he and my dad would get together, oh my word, they were hilarious.  They'd do just about anything to create laughter.  They were not overweight men, but they were grown.  Imagine 2 grown men, huffing and puffing, pushing and shoving, both trying to get through a normal sized door opening at the same time.  I mean...the antics these 2 pulled off...cracked everyone up.  

When we'd go to my Grandmother's (their Mom) house for Sunday Dinner, they knew what she did right up to calling us to the table.  Her last stop was the bathroom...to tidy up and wash her hands.  The 2 of them would sneak into the hallway and take the hinge pins out of the door and leave the door sitting in the hinge like the pins were holding it.  She'd go to the door...and yep...she'd scream and say, "Boys, what did you do now?"  And then she'd laugh...we'd all laugh.  This was every time we were there.  If my Uncle wasn't there, dad would do it alone.  She knew.  One time I even saw her holding the door, just so she could move it to get in...and scream!

Something else my uncle and dad did was...shake the table and pour Grandma a very FULL cup of coffee.  Of course the coffee would spill on to the saucer and grandma would TskTsk them and ask, is that what I taught you?  Then everyone laughed.

Some of the funniest moments with the 2 of them was going to the Grocery Store.  One of them was the look-out while the other held a fully-loaded SQUIRT GUN.  One, usually my dad, would stand at the end of an aisle and motion to my Uncle where there was a person in the aisle next to him.  He'd then point his Squirt Gun over the shelves and squirt away...always connecting with someone.  There would be screeches and shrieks...and hysterical laughing going on.  In those days, no one got into trouble doing something like that - not even 2 grown men.

Now...on to the way the World Saw Ralph Hermann      

His early musical education received from the school system in Milwaukee. A long career as an instrumentalist started in junior high school, when he played for a “Kiddie Revue”, and culminated with his performances with various name bands including those of Freddy Martin and Jimmy Dorsey.  At his high school graduation, he was awarded the Milwaukee Civic Music Medal for outstanding musical contributions. 

Pianist, composer, songwriter, publisher, conductor, musician and arranger, educated at the Wisconsin Conservatory and Northwestern University and in private music study with Dick Koebner and Harvey Krueger. He was a musician in local orchestras and in the Wisconsin Symphony, and toured in bands. Eventually he joined the staff at WTMJ (Milwaukee) as a musician, conductor and arranger. In 1953 he joined ABC as a staff conductor, and he also began free-lance composing and arranging about that time, and then a music publisher.

He served in General Bradley’s 12th Army Orchestra in Germany as a pianist and arranger. 

During World War II, he founded the Weisbaden Symphony as well as a dance band. 

Joining NBC as a choral arranger, he eventually joined the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini and went on to arrange for Guy LombardoAndre KostelanetzDinah Shore, and Jane Pickens.  

His post-military career included local and national positions with NBC and ABC. Beyond his formal training at Northwestern University, Mr. Hermann is known to have studied in New York with Vittorio Giannini. His award-winning compositions include over 60 works for wind band, as well as film scores, radio music, and jazz charts. He worked as an arranger for the major broadcasting networks.  

He wrote for saxophone and clarinet artist Al Callodoro and saxophone soloist Eugene Rousseau. His works range from Concerto for Horn and North Sea Overture to arrangements of music from Tosca and a medley from Porgy and Bess.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Ralph Hermann, ConductorDies 

on July 24, 1994

In Manhasset, New York

Now...click on the Studen Driver Car to Listen to a Score My Uncle Wrote about Student Drivers...

Here are a couple of Videos of  Musical Scores
Ralph Hermann wrote...Give a Listen and Enjoy!

Clarinet on the Town...Written by Ralph Hermann
The clarinet section is featured in this 1960 composition that contrasts two moods. The Prelude possesses the rich and full sound characteristic of grand theater productions; the Caprice is gay and spirited, showing the full range of the clarinet’s musical flexibility. The other sections of the ensemble provide the support and background color to make this piece complete and interesting.

Concerto for Horn...Written by Ralph Hermann
Jan Tanis
Jan Tanis

I'm Jan and I'm happy you stopped in. Please, leave a comment and follow along..


  1. Hi Jan, What an amazing series you started and this feature of your talented Uncle is incredible. How special to grow up with the antics of your dad and uncle. I can imagine how much fun your family had. The details of his life is so interesting and the music we all heard but now we can understand the origin and how this man was related to you. Loved the videos and thank you for sharing your new and fun Flashback Friday. I enjoyed this so much!! Looking forward to next weeks Flashback!!
    Have a great weekend. Hugs and Happy Spring!!

  2. Jan,
    This is delightful and such a splendid idea! I played the clarinet in High School-years of lessons too!
    I like listening to music as I write and this is just lovely, what a neat relative to have!
    Happy Friday~

  3. What fun to do these flashbacks and this is a very interesting start. Looking forward to this series!