Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Samuel Martorana -- The Band Doesn't Play On

In addition to organizing and conducting the Reading (Pennsylvania) Royal Italian Band, the 31-year-old Martorana played in the Federal Band, the Ringgold Band, and the Reading Symphony Orchestra.  In the weeks prior to his suicide, colleagues noticed that Martorana was acting strangely.  Despite having a pregnant wife at home, the conductor worked ceaselessly over the scores of operas and the creation of band music.  At 6:30 A.M. on March 5, 1939, Martorana leaped head-long from the third floor window of his sister-in-law's West Reading home where his wife awaited the birth of their second child.  Shortly afterward, the conductor's body was found outside on the pavement by his mother-in-law.  The coroner issued a certificate of death by suicide, blaming mental derangement brought on by excessive work and worry over his wife's condition.

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