Mr. Harry Bower was born at Queensbury, near Bradford in 1867. His father first taught him the rudiments of music, and at the age of ten Harry became a member of the village chapel choir (of which, by the way, he is now choir-master)
At this period two of his elder brothers were members of the Black Dike Band, and were anxious that their younger brother should follow in their footsteps. The soprano was his first choice, and after having got over the initial stages he joined the junior band. The conductor, however, thought that Mr. Bower would do better on the cornet, and consequently he started as third cornet player. It was not long before his ambition was rewarded, for within a brief space of eighteen months he was playing solo cornet.
In the year 1881 a vacancy occurred in the senior band for a third cornet player, and Mr. Bower was promoted to the post. At this period Mr, Fred Birkenshaw, who will be remembered as a great virtuoso, was solo cornet of the band, and Mr. Bower was fired with ambition to reach that state of efficiency when he would be good enough for assistant solo. Mr. Bower worked hard, and after passing through various stages his desire to become first assistant solo comet was realised.
This post he held until 1896, when he was raised to the post of bandmaster, which had been vacated by his brother, Mr. Phineas Bower. He was not long in making his presence felt in his new capacity, for in 1896 the band was very successful. During the two years they attended sixteen contests, and the result was fifteen first prices and one second. This procession of successes brought in. innumerable applications for terms, and Mr. Bower, who was secretary of the band as well as bandmaster, states; that between May 1st and August 31st, 1897, he replied to no fewer than 1,760 communications.
From the year 1896 to 1911 the number of engagements attended by the band was 2,187, all of which, with few exceptions, were under the conductorship of Mr Bower. One performance or which Mr. Bower is particularly proud is the contest at Blackpool in 1893. Here all professional players were debarred, and at the last moment Mr. Bower had to take the position of solo cornet. He was found quite equal to the task, and the band succeeded in winning first prize, £73 in cash (the largest cash prize ever won), and silver cup value £25.
He has been the recipient of numerous medals, etc., perhaps the one which he values most highly is the first one given by The British Bandsman at Belle Vue. When Mr. Phineas Bower retired from the bandmastership of Black Dike Band, Mr. Harry Bower was unanimously requested to take the position. He took up the duties in the year 1896, and during that year the band acquitted itself well at all engagements, and finished the contest season by winning the first prize at Belle Vue. In 1897 the band was not among the prize winners at Belle Vue, and in the following year they did not compete. They had the honour of winning first prize in 1902, which was the Belle Vue Jubilee year.
In 1906 they went on their tour to America and Canada. Since Mr. Bower was appointed bandmaster in 1896, Black Dike Band have attended 63 contests, and won 35 first prizes, 11 seconds, 6 thirds. 2 fourths, 3 fifths, 1 sixth, 1 seventh, and on four occasions they have been unplaced. During this period the band has won the Thousand Guinea Cup at the Crystal Palace once, and also the Belle Vue Cup. On one or two occasions Mr. Bower has been called upon to conduct the band at contests on account of the unavoidable absence of the professional conductor, and on each occasion the band was awarded the premier prize.
The experience which, Mr. Bower has had under such fine teachers as Messrs., GIadney, Owen and Rimmer should now stand him in good stead.
If length of service is any qualification for the post of band trainer, then Mr. Bower should not be found wanting, for there are not many men who can claim to have had fifteen years as assistant solo cornet, and subsequently sixteen years as bandmaster of Black Dike Band, and intends in the future – should opportunities permit – to devote his spare time to the teaching of brass bands and also to enter the ranks of the adjudicating brigade. He should find plenty to do in both capacities.