represented a fulfillment of the "American Dream." Imagine, if you will, a
time before the turn of the century and a 17-year-old Bohemian boy arriving
in New York from mid-Europe on his way to Nebraska to join his sister's
family - a young man with little formal education, unable to speak English,
but able to eloquently communicate through the language of music with his
improved "Albert System" clarinet. Even though his initial role was that of
assisting the family in cigar manufacturing, Boh was within a short time
leading a small band that criss-crossed the Midlands, playing for fairs,
dances, shows, and other entertainments.
In 1903 Boh's
band was booked out of Kankakee, Illinois, for an engagement in Davis,
Oklahoma Territory. The group arrived by train only to discover that no
such engagement existed. Boh paid his men and headed for the nearest large
town, Oklahoma City. There he played in beer garden bands, gave music
lessons, organized and directed "polka" bands in Woodward, Yukon, and
Prague, and for ten years furnished band music for Oklahoma State Fairs. In
1915 he was invited by the President of Oklahoma A&M College in Stillwater
to become band director. To Boh's surprise, he learned upon his arrival in
Stillwater that he was also to serve as Director of Music, an administrative
pioneer tours of the state by the A&M College Band, composed music for the
band, encouraged all phases of public school music, rode the crest of
America's band wave, and, gradually but surely, captured the imagination of
both the citizens of Oklahoma and the student body at OAMC. By studying the
Masonic ritual and memorizing large sections of it, Boh was able to enlarge
his vocabulary and to master the English language, which he spoke with a
colorful accent. He became a citizen of the United States, was elevated to
the 33rd degree in Scottish Rite Masonry, received an honorary Doctor of Music degree, and
was elected to Oklahoma's "Hall of Fame" and to "Who's Who in Music" in the
Even though Dr.
Makovsky accomplished much in his 72 years, he was unfailingly humble and
always expressed great appreciation for how much others had done for him.
The pipe he smoked, bent into a miniature saxophone shape, and the uncrushed
black bow tie which he always wore became his trademarks.
Boh was stern on
the podium and uncompromising in musical detail and interpretation at each
of the Monday through Friday 7 a.m. rehearsal hours, yet he was a sincere
friend to all. Many were deeply influenced by their contacts with Boh, and
his students perpetuate his teachings and ideals to this day.
One can thus
readily understand that Bohumil Makovsky was a fulfillment of the "American
Dream," and by his constant encouragement and support of the Fraternity was
truly "The Guiding Spirit of Kappa Kappa Psi."
Facts About Boh
Boh was born in
Frantisky, Bohemia on September 23, 1878.
Boh's first instrument
was the "Albert System" clarinet, which his uncle taught him to play.
Boh came to the United
States at the age of 17 and worked as an apprentice to a cigar maker in
Boh received only six
years of formal education throughout his life.
Boh served as band
director and music department head at Oklahoma A&M College (now Oklahoma
State University) from 1915 to 1943.
Boh was the first
honorary member of both Kappa Kappa Psi and Tau Beta Sigma.
Boh's trademarks were
his uncrushed black bowtie and his saxophone-shaped pipe, which he
called "my best friend."
Some of Boh's close
friends were men such as John Philip Sousa, Henry Fillmore and A. A.
Boh liked to call
certain rare instruments owned by the university (such as the
sarrusophone, hecklephone and contrabass clarinet) his "pets."
Boh received an
honorary Ph.D. in Music from the University of Tulsa.
Boh was a Master Mason
and achieved the 33rd degree of the Scottish Rite, an honorary degree
that is the highest of the Rite and awarded for service to Masonry.
Boh was listed in
"Who's Who Among American Musicians."
Boh was inducted into
the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1938.
Boh was made an
honorary chief of the Kiowa Indian Tribe. His Kiowa name became
"The Great Father of Oklahoma Music,"
and he was given a war bonnet by the tribe.
Boh passed away June
12, 1950 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.
about Bohumil Makovsky can be found in the Guide to Membership and in the
biography of Boh written by Alpha Life Members Steve Nelson and Richard
Dugger, available from National Headquarters.