The Cornhusker Marching Band not only represents the “Pride of All Nebraska,” as billed, but it also embodies the love of music at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.
The marching band resides in the Glenn Korff School of Music, but three-fourths of its members are not music majors, instead representing more than 70 academic majors campus-wide, and students who play and march simply for the love of it.
That love of music on campus is nearly as old as the university itself. The original 12-member band got its start as an ROTC unit in 1879 to aid in military drills and marches, and swelled to 75 men by World War I. In 1955, the band split from the military program, and in 1972, women joined after Title IX was enacted. The current 300-piece ensemble includes woodwinds, brass, percussion (battery and front ensemble), color guard and twirlers.
Throughout its 140-year history, the band has received many honors, including a Distinguished Recognition Trophy presented by John Philip Sousa in 1927. In 1996, the band was awarded the John Philip Sousa Foundation’s Sudler Trophy, the highest honor given to collegiate bands.
The Glenn Korff School of Music dates to 1894, and in 2013 the school was named in honor of Korff, a Hebron, Nebraska, native and 1965 graduate of the University of Nebraska, who majored in chemistry and zoology and had a deep love of music. His $8 million gift created a permanently endowed fund to provide annual support for students, faculty and programs within the school.
Celebrating 125 years in 2019, the Glenn Korff School of Music earned recognition that same year from the Fiske Guide to Colleges as one of 24 Major Universities Strong in Music.
The school supports a variety of vocal and instrumental ensembles that perform in campus venues throughout the academic year, and frequently shares its gift of music with Nebraska audiences that can’t easily make it to campus. For example, the opera program, with support from the James C. and Rhonda Seacrest Tour Nebraska Opera Fund, recently performed in Ord and Red Cloud. This fall, the program will premiere an opera by Professor Tyler White in Cozad that is adapted from Mari Sandoz’s novel on the founding of the community.