Monday, May 14, 2007

Mayfield District's 'Music Man'

Highland Heights - Forget about 76 trombones.

Herman Treu, Mayfield's "Music Man," felt fortunate he could find half that number of musicians for his first high school marching bands.

The maestro, who died April 9 at age 82, went door to door in the Mayfield School District, recruiting new band members and persuading old ones to return, when he took the job of music director in 1950.

"They were lucky that they could march down the field, play the alma mater and march off," fellow music teacher Ron Schuller said. "Over a period of years, bands have become much more sophisticated. Nicer uniforms. What Herman came from was nothing, and he had to build from scratch."

Treu recruited students to join the band and teachers to develop the music program in the schools, beginning with the lower grades. He fostered student interest in playing music and in being part of the marching band, which boasted some 200 members at its peak, and other instrumental and vocal ensembles.

He also gave private lessons after school and on Saturdays. Although the one-on-one attention ideally enhanced the musicianship of his future bands, the Highland Heights resident did it to supplement his modest salary.

"He appreciated everything he had, because he started with nothing," said his wife of 58 years, Mariana.

Treu was born in a two-room shack on a sugar beet farm in Sugar City, Colo.

At age 4, he moved with his parents into a two-room house in town with no indoor plumbing or electricity. Young Herman slept on a foldout couch in the living room. Electricity, a kitchen with running water and a separate bedroom for him were added by the time he entered his teens.

Both of Treu's parents were born in ethnic German enclaves in Russia. They left Russia after the Bolsheviks assumed power. They ended up in Colorado, where they had relatives.

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