Don Kramer (HSUTrumpets 1972-89)

Mr. Donald Kramer, a native of Joliet, Illinois, received his early band training under the direction of Forrest L. McAllister and Charles S. Peters in the Joliet Grade School Band. This was an exceptional band program, and Kramer played first chair trumpet his all four years in high school.

He received the Bachelor of Music degree from Oklahoma City University and the Master of Science in Music Education from the University of Illinois and did additional graduate study at The University of Southern Mississippi. Kramer was Assistant Director of Bands at The University of Oklahoma, and Director of Bands at The University of Arkansas at little Rock before coming to Henderson State as Professor of High Brass in 1972.

Kramer played first trumpet in the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra and the South Arkansas Brass Quintet. He was featured with the Henderson Band on the Tartini Concerto in D at the American School Band Directors Association conference in 1983.

A large collection of Kramer’s trumpets was on display at the Band Museum in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.

The Carnival of Venice was known to Kramer as the “Million Dollar Song” because if he had received a dollar for every time he played it, he would have a million dollars! His students have stated that Kramer had the entire Arban book memorized.

Don Kramer Stories

The Million Dollar Song, aka, Arban’s Carnival of Venice – Kramer said if he had a dollar for every time he had played it, he’d be a millionaire.

“The Carnival of Venice” with the Fordyce, AR High School Band, Spring 1978

I contacted you perhaps a few years ago after Googling on various old Joliet Band subjects.  I today came upon the Don Kramer website while doing the same.  I was perplexed by the fact that Don’s playing under  Bruce Houseknecht  in the Joliet High School Band was not mentioned.  For a short time following the death of A.R. McAllister Mr. Alex Zimmerman also conducted the band as an add-on to his Choir duties.   Don  may have played under him also….as I did.  I graduated from J.T. in 1947 and Don was one or two years  behind me.  During our Grade School band days under Forrest Lee McAllister, and later Charles S. Peters after Forrest went into the Army, we practiced at the old Central School in Joliet.  There were two buses that would collect us band boys from the various grade schools in Joliet, one for the West Side and one for the East Side.  Don attended the A.O. Marshall  school in the Ridgewood area of Joliet on the  East Side and was picked up by the same bus that I was. That bus also picked up , variously, one or two band members from the Culbertson  school.  We all packed lunches and ate them during the trip to Central School.  Don entered the Grade School Band a year or two after I did and  soon occupied the First Chair trumpet section following, I believe, Ray McKeever.  I don’t recall Don ever relinquishing that chair once he got it either in Grade or High School.  I have heard that Don’s father used to film movies of some of our band’s activities but I’ve never seen any.

Don and I were not close associates during our band years, so I don’t have any personal anecdotes involving him.  Robert Novak, the noted Washington correspondent was a band member concurrent with Don.

Bob Draznik, Joliet, Illinois

P.S.  On reflection I believe  Don may have held second chair in the trumpet/cornet section during his first year or two of high school and took first chair when [Ray McLeever left].

HSU Faculty Brass Quintet – Don Kramer, John Caldwell, Chris Kornegay, Eddie Paul, Wes Branstine, 1976 or 1977

Arkansas Brass Quintet, 1987 L to R:  Jim Woolly, Doug Lockard, Wes Branstine,
Don Kramer, Chris Kornegay


Don_Kramer_and_double_bell_trumpet_around_1980Don Kramer with his double bell trumpet around 1980

Note dedication from Jean Baptiste Laurent Arban  to Don Kramer!





Don Kramer, seated first chair, Joliet, Illinois, 1947


Don Kramer and members of the Joliet Township High School Band at the sectional solo and ensemble contest at Bloom Township High School, Chicago Heights, IL, 1947

Top row:

Chuck Ursitti, cornet
John Ventura, cornet
Ray Novak, drums
Don Linden, oboe
Eugene Steinquist, flute
Reid Holmstrom, french horn
Dick Borchardt, clarinet
Herman Troppe, clarinet
Joe Lazzaro, clarinet

Middle row:

Willard Johnston, trombone
Jack Quas, alto saxophone
Wayne Wilson, trombone
Donald Kramer, cornet
Chuck Wynne, drums

Bottom row:

Richard Norem, french horn
John Stacey, french horn
Angelo Principali, french horn
Wendell Anderson, cornet
George Olivo, cornet
Glen Young, clarinet
Vince D’Orazio, clarinet

Don_Kramer_-_Contest_Band_2from the 1946 Joliet Township High School Yearbook (now Joliet Central)


Spring 1979 Solo with band Alexander Arutunian Concerto with Henderson Symphonic Band;
at Arkansas All-State Convention
Spring 1980 Solo with band Giuseppe Tartini Concerto in D major  
Fall 1980 Duet Clarke Herbert L. Cousins with Wes Branstine, trombone and Robert Ellis, piano
Spring 1983 Solo with band Giuseppe Tartini    
Fall 1984 Solo with orchestra Georg Friderick Handel. The Trumpet Shall Sound from “The Messiah” with Monty Hill, baritone


on Kramer with his double bell trumpet around 1980

The Clarino – Don Kramer

Fall, 1970