History of the Boerne Village Band
The Boerne Village Band was organized in 1860 by Dr. Karl Dienger, who had migrated from Germany in 1855. At the same time he organized the Boerne Gesang Verein. Until 1885 he was in charge of both groups and he combined singing fests with the German band music all over the Texas Hill Country.
In 1840 Ottmar von Behr came to Sisterdale where he became a part of the Sisterdale Vocal Quartet. Two of his children, Jennie and Ottmar, were active in the band during the early years. Jennie's husband, Fritz Fischer, taught his nephews, Ottmar, Jr., Arthur and Oscar to play musical instruments. In time, both Oscar and Ottmar Behr became directors of the band. Oscar's daughter, Roma, married Alvin Herbst. Their son, Kenneth Herbst, first played trumpet with the band when he was just 11 years old. Kenneth, a Boerne veterinarian, was the band's director from 1980 until his death in 2013. Continuing the family tradition to the fourth and fifth generation were Kenneth's sons, Kenneth, Jr. and Clinton; and grandsons Wilson and Kyle. All four played in the band during their school years growing up in Kendall County.
Another original member of the band was Alexander Kaiser. His music took him into the Civil War as a ten year old "drummer boy" after his parents were killed by Indians near Boerne. In 1879 he built the center room of his house as a place for the band to practice, with him playing the drums.
The Henry Schrader family migrated from Germany in 1869. Henry, Sr. played the cornet and peck horn in the band for over fifty years. He began playing when he was fifteen years old. His son, Henry, Jr. learned to play from his father also played in the band for over fifty years.
The band members came from all of the communities in the area and played for Sangerfests and dancing in all of them, namely, Bergheim, Kendalia, Welfare, Waring, Comfort and Boerne.
During the two World Wars the band was not very active but did not disband. It was after World War II that the band re-assembled stronger than ever. This re-assembled group included Henry Schrader, Jr., Eugene Ebell, Erhard Ebner and the Grosser brothers. They also began at this time to develop the band in the Boerne High School.
No longer just a backup for an old time Sangerfest, the band is prominently known in its own right. In 1986 the group obtained authentic uniforms with the help of Otto Schicht from Bavaria. These uniforms were worn for the first time during the 1986 Sesquicentennial performances.
The band plays not only for Boerne Bergesfest but has performed all over Texas: At the San Antonio Fiesta and Folk Life Festival- At the New Braunfels Wurstfest-in Helotes - in Fredericksburg-at the "Indianola Pilgrimage" honoring the immigration of Germans to Texas-at the grand opening of the restored General Land Office in Austin. The Texas House of Representatives honored the band in 1991 "for providing the people of the State of Texas with the finest in German music and for keeping alive German music as part of Our Heritage." In 1995 an official Texas Historical marker was dedicated on the Main Plaza in Boerne to commemorate "Early German Music in Boerne, Texas" and its significance to the community heritage. The band played concerts in Germany in 1988, and the group was honored by the President of the Federal Republic of Germany with the Friendship Award for the Preservation and Continuation of German Music in the State of Texas. The group was also presented a Tenor Horn from the Government of Germany.
This band fills the summer air with music every other Tuesday night in June and July. The Abendkonzerte (Evening Concert) is held on the Main Plaza in Boerne from 7:30-9:00. The City of Boerne Cultural Event is free. The audience brings folding chairs or blankets to lounge around the gazebo, listening to the nostalgic waltzes and polkas.
Source: Files in the Boerne Public Library
What makes the Boerne Village Band Unique?
The Boerne Village Band’s Awards and Recognition
Over the years the band has received many awards, proclamations, state and local resolutions, and various recognition:
The Boerne Village Band
The Mission of the Boerne Village Band (Est. 1860) is to preserve and maintain the heritage of German music as an important part of our community and Central Texas history. The Band provides opportunities for high caliber musicians to display their craft as well as encourage high school music students develop and display their skills to large discerning audiences. The Band will encourage and instill in all of our musicians the desire to maintain our great German heritage through German music performance. The Boerne Village Band will entertain the Boerne community through German music summer concerts, a special July 4th Patriotic concert, performances at the Kendall County Fair and Boerne Bergesfest, Patriotic and Christmas parades, various holiday and historical celebrations, church services, plus dedications or re dedications of buildings and structures in Boerne and around Central Texas. With this as our mission, The Boerne Village Band hopes to continue its singular distinction as the “Oldest continuously performing German band in the World, outside of Germany”.