Professor Albert Miller

Professional Musician in Germany & America
5 Outstanding Years at Brigham Young


Brigham Young Academy
& Brigham Young University
Professor of Music, 1901 ~ 1906




IN GERMANY

Vargula, Erfurt, Erlangen, Dresden


July 1875 to December 1899

Ernst Ludwig Adelbert Mueller, known as Albert Miller in America, was born on July 13, 1875 in Vargula (Grossvargula), near Erfurt, Thuringia. His father, Carl Friedrich Mueller, was a tradesman. His mother was Johanna Louise Henrietta Wald Mueller. He had an older brother and sister, Carl Ernst Mueller and Christina Bertha Mueller. The family, of modest social standing, rented their home.

Even though his parents were not musicians, they had great appreciation for great music, and encouraged their children to develop their musical talents. Albert loved to hear music and wanted to learn to play.

As a young boy, Albert saw some children dragging a violin around on the street. Having a desire to play the violin, he immediately told his father about it. His father went to the owner of the violin and offered to buy it. The owner thought it was just an old violin. Albert's father bought it and discovered that the "old violin" was actually a very good instrument.

Albert received his early musical training in Vargula until the age of fourteen. His school teacher, who lived on the same street, often shook a willow at Albert, telling him to get in the house and practice.
Albert's schoolteacher lived on the same street.

Later in his life, Albert told his wife that he regretted that the teacher had not taken a larger stick to him to force him to practice, for this would have made him a better musician at an earlier age.

When Albert was fifteen years old, his mother died. After that he went to live with his older sister, who lived in Erfurt. He continued intensified musical training for several more years in Erfurt.

By this time, Albert had learned how to play nearly all musical instruments, but he became most skilled as a violinist and cornetist.

He wanted to continue his musical training, but he also felt that he should begin to make a living for himself. Having reached the age of eighteen, he decided to join the army where he would be able to earn a living and also continue his musical career because the army at that time offered training in music.

During the next three years, Albert served in the German Army. He was stationed at Erlangen, Bavaria, and was assigned to the music division as a trumpeter and violinist.

The musical organizations in the army made annual tours of resorts not to play dance music, but to perform high class concert music. He progressed rapidly, and the strict military musical discipline carried over into his own life and was reflected in the lives of those he taught in later years.

As a musician, Albert had privileges not accorded to the regular soldiers. For example, he was permitted to live at home rather than at the garrison. He wore civilian attire more often than the army uniform.

Albert's standards of conduct were high, and his philosophical and spiritual convictions gave him the privilege to receive rich spiritual experiences.

Since his mother's death, she had appeared to him in dreams. He knew something was wrong, because she seemed unhappy. Her face was sad, and her beautiful long brown hair was never combed or brushed. He worried about such appearances, and prayed to God to take his mother out of hell. This, he thought, was all that he could do for her at the time.
Courtley Military Band, Dresden, Germany, 1898
Courtly Military Band in Dresden, Germany, 1898.
Back row: Albert Miller, fourth from right. Robert Sauer, third from right.

At the age of twenty-one, his army service was completed. Albert accepted a position with a courtly military band and orchestra in Dresden, capital of Saxony, where only first class musicians were employed. In three years of constant practice he made himself acquainted with every phase of orchestral and military band work, earning a high place among musicians.

When the young musician was in Dresden, he met two missionaries representing the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who, along with other people, became instrumental in changing the whole course of his life.

One day when he returned home, his landlady gave him a tract entitled, "Salvation for the Dead," which had been left by these missionaries. He was deeply interested because he knew that his mother was in distress. The more he read, the more he became convinced that it was true.

He said, "I am going to find this Church for I know it must be true, and I want to have my dear mother baptized."

One evening a short time later, as he sat in his room, he overheard voices coming from the next room. Elder Franz "Francis" Salzner, a missionary, was explaining principles of the gospel to his neighbors.

Later, when Albert met Elder Salzner and other missionaries on February 24, 1898, he asked many thoughtful questions concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ. The more they explained, the more he believed the gospel to be true. From that time on, Albert visited the missionaries almost every day.

This experience was the beginning of a new life for Albert. Ultimately it took him across the sea to America.

After he began to investigate the gospel, the musicians with whom he associated changed their attitudes toward him. They ridiculed and tricked him whenever they could. Eventually they began to respect his stalwart beliefs, and told him, "You are better than we are." Albert told them he was not better, but he was trying to live a better life.

One night after he had begun to study the gospel, he retired. No sleep came, however. As he lay there thinking about salvation for the dead, he felt the presence of someone in the room. He sat up, and saw his mother standing at the foot of his bed, coming toward him. But this time she looked quite different from her appearance on previous occasions. She was dressed in a white gown, her hair was brushed and combed so smooth that he could see every hair laid side by side, and she was smiling. When he saw her, he said, "Oh Mother, have I done right?" She kept her eyes on him, smiling, and slowly disappeared.
Johanna Louise Henrietta Wald Mueller - S L Temple
Albert received no more visitations from his mother after that occasion. He knew now that he must go to America, where there was a temple, to perform priesthood ordinances for his mother there.

On April 26, 1898, Albert was baptized in the River Elbe and confirmed a member of the Church on the same day.

Some time prior to his baptism, Elder Salzner asked Albert to visit with one of Albert's acquaintances, Auguste Mueller, who owned a flower shop across the street from the hotel where he was performing. Elder Salzner said that she appeared to be refined and educated, and he felt that Albert would have a good influence on her.

Albert explained the gospel to August Mueller, and in doing so had the occasion to meet her daughter, Emma Elsa Mueller, who was then sixteen. Several years later, this girl became Mrs. Albert Miller.

About thirty years later, Franz "Francis" Salzner would return to Germany as President of the Swiss-German Mission of the LDS Church.
Robert Sauer
While living in Dresden, Albert became a close friend of Robert Sauer, a member of the band in which Albert played.

Just before a performance, Albert told Robert that he had something important to tell him during the intermission. Albert told him of the experience he had had with the missionaries. His enthusiasm and sincerity caused Robert to become interested. Robert Sauer later said:
"It was the sweetest story I had ever heard. The tugging at my heart strings told me that I had found a pearl of great price."
From then on, Robert Sauer attended the meetings conducted by the LDS missionaries. Later, in October of 1899, Robert was also baptized into the Church. Encouraged by Albert, he later emigrated to America and to Utah, and he eventually became director of bands at Brigham Young University.
Albert Miller intended to go to America where he could have baptismal rites performed for his mother in the Salt Lake Temple, and then return to Germany. However, the missionaries suggested that he leave his native land to make his home in Utah, for it would take considerable time to do the temple work for all of his ancestors.

In addition, in due time he would find a companion and they could be married for time and eternity in the temple. Albert finally decided to go to Utah and make it his home. As it turned out, Elsa followed later and they were married there.

In December of 1899, a year and a half after his baptism into the Church, Albert Miller departed from Hamburg, Germany, and arrived that month in Salt Lake City, Utah in America, where for the first time he saw the Salt Lake Temple.
Salt Lake City Utah LDS Temple

IN AMERICA

Lehi, Utah


December 1899 to January 1901

When Albert Miller arrived in Utah in December of 1899, he settled in Lehi, south of Salt Lake City and north of Provo. He lived at the home of George and Mary Ann Ward Webb, parents of Mrs. Salzer who was the wife of Elder Francis Salzner.

Elder Salzner had told Albert that when he came to Utah he would be welcome to stay with his family. Albert accepted the hospitality of the George Webb family, and a year later, when Elsa Mueller arrived from Germany, she also made her home with the Webb family.

Albert lived in Lehi from December 1899 to January 1901, just over one year. He wanted to work in the outdoors because he thought that would help his breathing, which had caused him some trouble. He found work with a company that raised sugar beets.

When Elsa arrived from Germany and saw the rough condition of his hands, the result of manual labor, she was quite upset. "I almost cried when I saw his hands -- they were so swollen and red," she said. Albert said he often asked himself, "I wonder if I will ever play my violin again."

Elder Francis Salzner, well aware of Albert's exceptional musical training and professional expertise, made sure that his abilities were used in Lehi. Albert soon began to play for many church meetings, until his reputation as a violinist, trumpeter, and musical leader spread around the area, including Provo. Albert soon found himself directing the Silver Band, made up of about twenty-five young men residing in Lehi.

The wages paid to Albert Miller for his out-of-doors work were insufficient to allow him to marry. He and Elsa prayed, as they did so often, to ask for divine help in solving their problem.

One day as he was working in the sugar beet fields, Albert was sought out by Professor Anthony C. Lund, head of the Department of Music at Brigham Young Academy. With Lund was Sam Jepperson, a Provo musician.

Albert could only understand a little English, but he understood that they wished to hear him play. He showed them his hands, red and blistered, but he smiled, went to his room and got out his violin. As he played for them, they were amazed at his skill and musicianship.

Within a week after Professor Lund's visit, Albert received a letter asking him to come to the Academy at Provo, where Professor Lund would give him some music to play at a Friday concert in the College Hall auditorium.

The concert Albert gave for his Brigham Young Academy audience was so impressive that he was asked to remain at the Academy to assist in teaching music. Eleven students came to him after the concert to ask him to give them lessons. This pleased him, for now he could be active again in the discipline of music, which he loved so dearly.

When Albert returned to Lehi, his first question was, "Well, Elsa, are you ready to get married?"

Elsa and Albert were married in the Salt Lake Temple on January 2, 1901, by President John R. Winder. Nine other couples were married that day in the temple, among whom were Francis W. Kirkham, noted author and church worker and Martha Alzina Robison; and David O. McKay, who later became president and prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and Emma Ray Riggs.
Front Grounds of Brigham Young Academy, 1900
Founders Day at Brigham Young Academy, 1900

Provo, Utah

January 1901

The Millers moved immediately to Provo, where they rented a small home at First West and Fourth North -- the Academy was located on Fifth North. Albert and Elsa spoke very little English, and with new customs, new language, and new friends with whom they could communicate but little, they were almost overwhelmed.

The students at Brigham Young Academy welcomed them warmly, but Professor Miller felt little encouragement as he began his new task of organizing a band and an orchestra. His first class numbered only five pupils, but he was untiring in his efforts to make his work successful. His sincerity and his enthusiasm began to catch fire among the student body.

Until that time, Brigham Young Academy had not had the services of a faculty member skilled in all phases of band and orchestral instruments. In The White and Blue school newspaper on January 15, 1901, carried this note:
The Academy is very fortunate in securing the services of Professor Miller for this semester. Students can avail themselves of his instruction on the violin, and, from his long experience with orchestra work in Germany, the boys of the Academy Orchestra and brass band will receive much benefit and inspiration.
Soon after Professor Miller started to teach, reference was made to his ability as a composer. Although no music has been found, mention was made as early as February 1901 in The White and Blue, of a composition for the brass band: "The last selection played by the Academy brass band Friday night was composed by Professor Miller."

Teaching and composing were not the only areas of music in which Professor Miller participated during his first few months in Provo. He was often asked to participate in civic and church programs as a violinist, and he delighted his audiences.

Samuel Jepperson, Sr., had been in charge of the Provo Theatre Orchestra and also of a dance orchestra. He turned the direction of these organizations over to Professor Miller who needed the extra work to compensate for the low wages paid him by the Academy.

Their first job under Professor Miller was a big traveling musical show. The traveling director of the show was the pianist as well. He looked at the orchestra and said, "I don't think you young fellows can handle this music; it is difficult and all in manuscript." Professor Miller said, "We try." He raised his violin bow for the beginning beat, and the orchestra went through it without a mistake. The show director stood aghast.

Professor Miller had been working for one month with the band and orchestra when the school's attention was drawn to the rapid advancement of these musical organizations:
The Music Department is forging ahead at a rate not anticipated a year ago by the most sanguine students. Following close upon the organization of the brass band came that of the orchestra. Notwithstanding the short time these organizations have been effected, surprising proficiency has been obtained. Music forms so important a part of our societies and social gatherings that we cannot look upon this phenomenal growth but with delight. [W&B, Feb. 15, 1901]
A result of the growth of and enthusiasm for instrumental music in the Brigham Young Academy under the influence of Professor Miller was shown by the organization of a dance orchestra. This group was highly praised in a news editorial of the school paper:
For ten years it has been the dream of President Brimhall that the students might dance to Academy music. Then how sweetly must have sounded to his ear the sweet strains of music produced the other evening by the Academy Orchestra. Even to the students it was like nectar, and many and delicate were the bouquets thrown at the musicians as the happy dancers went gracefully though the changes. [W&B, Feb 15, 1901]
They continued playing for dances and received noticeable praise, as was shown after the "1905 Party":
The 1905 Party was the ball of the season. . . . The music furnished by the Academy Orchestra was the best that could be wished for. [W&B, Feb. 15, 1901]
These days were happy for the Millers. Elsa Miller was very proud of the amazing work her husband was doing at the Academy. He was rapidly overcoming the language barrier, and there were many other things to be thankful for. Mrs. Miller showed interest and support in her husband's work by frequently visiting the campus. "Mrs. Miller, wife of our talented professor, was a welcome visitor at the Academy this week." [W&B, Feb. 15, 1901.]

The Academy brass band quickly became a positive advertising force. Sometimes visiting artists came to Provo and were introduced to the public by the band. "The Brigham Young Academy brass band was out Friday notifying the citizens of Provo of the Heffley concert." [W&B Mar. 1, 1901.]
Professor Albert Miller
Professor Albert Miller

The 1901-1902 School Year

The following academic year, 1901-1902, brought even greater strides forward in the advancement of the orchestra and band at the Academy. Before the year was over, the band, now made up of sixteen members, was the inspiration of every important occasion.

The orchestra attained a membership of twelve, and developed a proficiency that was the delight of all that heard it. They played for all of the Academy parties and musicales, and were much in demand from outside sources.

Both of these organizations furnished the necessary complement to the private lesson given by Professor Miller on the violin and cornet.

Academy students were allowed two music credit hours each semester for enrollment in either the band or the orchestra. They worked diligently for their credits by adhering to the methods taught by their director, Professor Miller. Having been trained under very strict army leadership in Germany, he was accustomed to musical procedures that carried over into the musical organizations he directed.

His students were taught the principles of dependability, reliability, and independence. He wanted them to learn to think and do things for themselves. One student recalled an incident involving a broken violin bridge. Professor Miller, instead of fixing it for him, as many teachers would have done, told the student that he would have to learn to do it himself.

Although Professor Miller has demanding and strict in his teaching, he had a kindly disposition and had the special ability to instill within his students a love for playing their instruments. His sense of humor was a great help to him in winning the confidence of his students.

He desired to call each of them by their first names, even though the pronunciation of English gave him some difficulty. The pronunciation of their names with a German accent, and each learned his "Professor Miller name."

Professor Miller developed a three-part role in the musical activities of school and community. First, his services as a violinist were in constant demand. Second, he appeared often as director of the brass band. Third, he performed as the director of the orchestra. Sometimes, one performance would include all three of these activities:
Professors Lund, Miller, and Miss Nelke gave an entertainment Friday evening, November 1st. It was highly entertaining and educational. Professor Miller seemed superior to any preceding appearance as his left hand moved like an automatic machine on the neck of the violin. Among the other numbers were selections from the brass band and orchestra who showed excellent training by the acute ear of Professor Miller.

The Academy is proud, and well she needs to be. We have artists in our school, a brass band, an orchestra, and good musical quality in our students.
At times Professor Miller gave solo performances in the auditorium in College Hall, which was usually filled to capacity by people eager to hear him play the violin.

At the 1901 Founders Day event, he played, among other numbers, "O My Father." His wife recalls that the applause was so long and loud that she though the ceiling might come down.

After the concert, Joseph F. Smith, new President of the LDS Church, came to Professor and Mrs. Miller, put their hands in his, and gave them a father's blessing. He told them that in his whole life he had never imagined that there would be such a world-class musician in the Church.

The Millers were extremely happy. One night a very spiritual meeting was held in College Hall, at which Albert and his wife could both fell the Spirit of the Lord. After hurrying home, and without taking the time even to light their lamp, they knelt down immediately and prayed to their Heavenly Father, thanking Him for having given them the Gospel.

Albert & Elsa, Hilda & Karl, & Alberta on the way.

The Miller Family Grows

Their responsibilities were increased at home by the birth of a daughter. They named her Hilda Elsa Miller.

This birth was the beginning of the fulfillment of a patriarchal blessing given to Albert Miller by Patriarch Charles D. Evans on July 15, 1900, while Albert still resided in Lehi.
Thou are one of the elect, gathered by divine power, and thy royal blood through Ephraim shall descend unto thy generations forever. . . . I seal upon thee the blessings of eternal increase, for the anointing of thy God will be upon thee in power and thou shalt be mighty in faith, and thy royal generations shall rise up and honor thee.
Additional fulfillment of this blessing continued by the births of Karl Albert Miller, born October 3, 1903, and Alberta Miller, born May 6, 1906.

Karl Albert Miller, named by his parents after the founder of Brigham Young Academy, Karl G. Maeser, and after his father Albert, from birth began an association with the school that continued for 105 years!

At that time, the band and orchestra had not been able to meet daily as was the desire of Professor Miller. In February of 1902, arrangements were made to fulfill his desire in this regard.

Professor Miller's orchestra and band continued to improve and to be popular at many special occasions. One of these was a memorial exercise in commemoration of the shocking death of President William McKinley. This memorial was reported in the student newspaper.
Memorial exercises for our late-martyred President were held in the Academy January 29, that being his fifty-ninth anniversary. The memorial address was delivered by Apostle Reed Smoot, and inspiring music was furnished by the Academy brass band, orchestra, and choir.
Despite the obstacles of inexperience, small numbers, and limited instrumentation which faced these pioneering instrumental groups under Professor Miller's direction, they thrived, and their standard of quality was noteworthy, as expressed in the school paper of February 1902:
One of the most successful concerts given in the Academy this season was held Thursday evening. Every number given was of a high standard. Our own Academy Orchestra gave us a selection of high order.
By March 1902, the band and orchestra had so prepared themselves that they could accomplish public service outside the school, not only in the form of entertainment, but of encouraging the sick.
We have an excellent Brass Band. No student needs to be told of this, but perhaps none will take offense at the reminder. The band boys need our support -- our cheer, and likely they would accept a few loose dimes with which to buy music. We are not begging for the band -- oh no! But we should like to beg the band to be at our contests; and whenever we have a noted man visit us from afar off, play some stirring selection that would tell him louder than any other demonstration, that we have a great school. Then we should beg every B. Y. man to be loyal to the band. They have served us well in the past.

The boys play for an hour every Saturday in the bandstand near the courthouse. As they were returning last Saturday, they stopped in front of the residence of Brother Brimhall. The music soon brought the "Old Teacher" to the gate. Though feeble from his recent illness, he replied so natural, "Music like that ought to make a man well." The incident was a pleasing one indeed, as he shook hands with every member with a "thank you".
According to the same newspaper, the Academy Orchestra made plans to visit other locales to demonstrate their amazing proficiency.
The Orchestra will go on a tour through Sanpete and Sevier [counties] during the spring vacation, beginning March 29. They have been engaged in all the towns along the line to give concerts and parties. Some of the newspapers have said it is second to none south of Salt Lake. Of course we don't wish to be presumptuous, but the truth is just about told when they say it is that way.
Following the orchestra tour in the spring of 1902, the group was invited to participate in a testimonial concert to be given in the Provo Tabernacle in honor of a student, Richard Clayton. "Members of the Tabernacle Choir, Professor Anthony C. Lund, Professor Albert Miller, the Academy Orchestra, and some of Provo's most talented musicians were among those who took part."

Toward the end of the school year in the spring of 1902, it appears that almost everyone at the Academy assumed that the band would play for all major events. For example, the school newspaper announced: "George R. Wendling. An opportunity to hear a great orator. He will speak at the Provo Tabernacle April 23. . . . The band, of course, will be there as escorts."

In May of 1902, an attempt was made to secure band uniforms. A speech was made in devotional assembly on April 30, by Mr. Webb. The substance of his text was contained in the school paper:
Boys, we want to help the band. The band needs uniforms, and as a band of students we should aid the band by going to the band dance. The band is willing to play free. It was the band that met Wendling; the band introduced our baseball suits; the band has been called on for everything. We cannot go to buy a bandanner without the band. It is the band this, and the band that, and the band the other; and now there's the band dance, and we must help the band.
And they did it! They raised sufficient funds to purchase sixteen band uniforms, which remained the property of the Academy.
The BYA Band in uniform - 1902
The Brigham Young Academy Band ~ 1902

Professor Miller, during rehearsals, hardly ever stood before the band. He sat at his desk with a large, heavy stick in his hand. While the band played he tapped the rhythm on the edge of his desk with the stick, until the desk was worn beyond repair. He never attempted to play a new march until he gave each player his or her part the day before and had them copy the march into a blank manuscript book. This, he said, helped us to read the music much better. At the beginning of each rehearsal, he always had us warm up on unison scales. In attacking a new march, he always practiced the hard parts first until it was all cleared up. We then played the march completely through. He was a great believer in playing descriptive numbers such as "A Hunt in the Black Forest," and they were enjoyed by all who heard them. He was a great community man, and everyone loved him. Usually he closed his eyes while playing a violin solo, and he played with his soul. His violin playing was an inspiration to all who had the privilege of hearing him.

--Arnold Burgener

The 1902-1903 School Year

The orchestra and band department under Professor Miller's leadership advanced in proficiency steadily through the 1902-1903 school year, with emphasis placed on the development and improvement of individuals within these groups.

Professor Miller wanted to produce good musicians, but also in his teaching he aimed directly at fitting young men and women for leadership in bands and orchestras.

The overall Music Department of Brigham Young Academy had grown in many ways by this time. The music faculty had been strengthened by the addition of Claire William Reid, a student from the New England Conservator of Music. The faculty roster of the School of Music for the 1902-1903 academic year included:
  • Antony C. Lund, director and professor of vocal and instrumental music;
  • Albert Miller, assistant professor of music and conductor of band and orchestra;
  • Claire William Reid, accompanist, instructor of organ music; and
  • Stanley Partridge, instructor in piano.
  • The Academy Band played for many important occasions, such as Founder's Day, and sometimes traveled with the basketball team.
    Professor Miller was very serious in his teaching. I might say a little sarcastic with older students who failed to put forth the effort he thought they should. He had a sincerity that made every student respect him. My private lessons cost only 50 cents with Professor Miller, and several times he wouldn't take the money and would say, "Your lesson is so well prepared that I will not charge you for it today." I have always been very grateful for the interest he took in me as a thirteen-year-old boy and the ability he had in encouraging me to "work."

    --Emery Epperson

    The 1903-1904 School Year

    In the 1903-1904 school year, the number of students registering for music increased significantly. In the previous year, Brigham Young Academy had come to an end in May 1903, and became Brigham Young High School and Brigham Young University. Two bands were listed that year in the school catalog, and A band and a B band. Regarding the A and B bands of this period, the catalog states:
    The A Band is designed especially for those who have had little or no opportunity, but who are desirous of attaining proficiency in the art of music. It is a course offered in no other school, perhaps in no other place, in Utah, and will give the student a thorough understanding of the fundamentals of music; as pitch, staff, clefs, keys, etc., and the playing on instruments. After completion of course A or its equivalent, students may enter the advanced course.

    Course B is adapted for those who have had some musical training, but who are not able to play high-grade music. The course considers how to interpret music, the style, embellishments, tone, time, taking breath, and other such details.
    With the increased number of students enrolling in the bands in 1903-1904, more uniforms were needed. The previous year sixteen uniforms had been purchased for the band, and this year there were twenty students in the regular band, and twelve students in the beginner's band. Many students in the beginner's band became eligible for the regular band during the course of the year, which meant the even more uniforms were necessary. On January 15, 1904, the school newspaper said: "Our brass band has grown so large that it is necessary to buy more uniforms. The dance given last Friday evening was for the purpose of raising the money required for the additional suits."

    Besides playing for parties and musicals at the school, the orchestra did outside work on a professional basis. For example, for the previous two seasons it had played at the Opera House.

    Professor Miller was continually training students for membership in the twelve-person orchestra. But in this department there were about thirty-five students.

    At times the orchestra had difficulty playing in tune due to a low-pitched piano. However, when Professor Miller played his violin on the same program, performance quality remained generally high. And when he performed solo pieces on his violin, the excellence was unequaled.

    Professor Miller did not limit the membership of his beginner's band. Then throughout the year as proficiency increased, students inquired about the possibility of entering the advanced band.

    A rather humorous reaction was shown by the student body when Professor Miller accepted a girl into the previously all-male band. "The secret is out," said a note in the White and Blue. "The band boys want new suits because they have a lady in the cornet division."

    To those in the same building, there was no doubt when the band rehearsal was underway. The school paper noted, "Our brass band is not the only one in the world, but it may become the best. Even now it fills the whole building from basement to garret."

    Professors Anthony C. Lund and Albert Miller working together made a strong team in the Music Department. Frequently they brought their groups together to present special productions. Members of the orchestra, having played the two previous seasons at the Opera House, were experienced in playing opera music. The singers in the choral groups had exceptional rehearsal opportunities.

    In January 1904, the orchestra commenced learning their parts for the upcoming school operetta, Priscilla. The music arrived in January and by the middle of February, two weeks later, they had learned their parts sufficiently well to play through the first act.

    At the same time they were practicing the opera music, they were learning music to be played in their regular orchestral concerts.

    At this point, Professor Miller began to see the results of his efforts to teach his students to become good musicians and good performers on their respective instruments.

    A series of weekly recitals was scheduled in the band room on Friday afternoons. The first recital of the season was set as follows:
  • 1. Violin Solo -- "Blue Bells of Scotland" -- Miss Kate Edmunds
  • 2. Cornet Duet -- "Die Perlen" -- Fjeldstedt & Hawkins
  • 3. Violin Solo -- "La Dagatrice" -- Murray Snow
  • 4. Clarinet Solo -- a. "Tramerie", b. "Air from Freischuetz" -- John Sonderegger
  • 5. Cornet Solo -- "Annie Laurie" -- Fred Fjeldstedt
  • Professor Miller's students continued to present recitals. The second recital was set as follows:
  • 1. Violin Solo -- Miss Anderson
  • 2. Trombone Solo -- "Alice, Where Art Thou?" -- Mr. Soper
  • 3. Violin Solo -- "Hearts and Flowers" -- Pansy Thuesen
  • 4. Cornet Quartet -- Fjelstedt, Hawkins, Vivian Snow, & Professor Miller
  • 5. Violin Quartet -- Edmunds, Thuesen, Murray Snow, and Professor Miller.
  • Having given his students the necessary experience in recitals to build their confidence and assurance, Professor Miller then presented a concert that was evidently one of the most successful of the year:
    A delightful concert was given Wednesday evening, March 23, 1904, by the University band and orchestra. As the admission was only nominal the house was filled in spite of threatening weather. Two selections were given by the orchestra entitled, "The Palms" and "Night Larks" [similar Nachtschwaermer -- Night Owl Waltz -- by Carl Michael Ziehrer].
    Among those listed on the program was Ralph Booth:
    Violin Solo, Master Booth, a ten-year-old genius from Nephi who has evidently a bright future in the musical world before him.
    The Brigham Young student body was bursting with pride after the concert, as stated in the student newspaper:
    Let the Brigham Young University Band and Orchestra not disband for vacation. They can certainly compete successfully for any place at the summer resorts of the state. Nor could any other work give them better remuneration, the while they are carrying on their musical studies.

    Think, too, what an advertizer that immense drumhead and those knobby white and blue suits would be for the old school; that is to say -- to the eye of the excursionist. The ad impressed upon his ear would not fail to captivate his heart for the Provo school.
    Summer vacation concerts were performed, and Professor Miller was teaching more than music to his students, as the following incident demonstrates:
    During vacation the Band and Orchestra gave two very successful concerts, each followed by a party in Wasatch. An incident of the trip illustrates the spirit of our school. Professor Miller, for "love or money" obstinately refused to play in front of the town saloon.
    The BYU Orchestra in 1904

    He was a fine character in every way, and was a loyal, sympathetic friend. During the time my brother, Sam, and his children had the smallpox, Professor Miller gave lessons to a musician in order to have him do my brother's work. When the quarantine was over, he came down and presented my brother with a check which he had earned giving private lessons during the time Sam was house bound. Our memory of Professor Miller is filled with love.

    --Florence Jepperson Madsen

    The 1904-1905 School Year

    The school catalog for the school year 1904-1905 listed, in addition to bands A and B, a C band which was the regular band. The C band was "open for those who have completed courses A and B. Public playing is a feature. The individual members will be trained in the art of conducting."

    Professor Miller, as in all of his previous years at the school, directed the bands. The orchestra, in contrast to the previous year's membership of 12 members, grew in 1904-1905 to 26 members under his direction.

    The musical organizations under Professor Miller's direction remained busy and popular even during the Christmas holidays.
    The Band and Orchestra will tour Wasatch and Summit Counties during the holidays giving a number of dances and concerts. Professor Miller should be complimented on the high quality of his concert, given Wednesday evening, December 14 [1904]. That the students appreciated it was self-evident.
    The students of Professor Miller had progressed to the point where they were in demand, not only by the school, but by outside sources. From the Provo Daily Enquirer is taken:
    The Elks Festival last night . . . One of the most pleasing features of the evening was the violin quartet conducted by Professor Miller.
    By February of 1905, the band and orchestra had advanced to the point where they were playing more difficult pieces than ever before. The following is a program given by the BYU Band and Orchestra in College Hall on February 8, 1905:
    Part I, Band.
  • 1. Kaiser, "Overture" . . . Ed Kiesler
  • 2. "Trinity" Sacred Intermezzo, Theo Moses . . . Tobani
  • 3. "Hazelene" Cornet Solo, Hazel . . . Fred Fjeldsted
  • 4. "The Forge in the Forest" Descriptive Piece, Th. Michaelis.
    Synopsis to No. 4 -- Night, Morning, By the Brook, Steeple Bells Toll Five O'Clock, Morning Prayer, Sounding of the Anvils.

    Part II, Orchestra
  • Pique Dame "Overture" F. V. Suppe
  • "A Sleigh-Ride Party" Descriptive Phantasie, Th. Michaelis
  • 3. (a) "Pizzacatto Gavotte" C. Yatana
    (b) "Cradle Song" C. Yatana
  • 4. "Sounds from the Rockies" Concert Waltzes, A. Miller
  • 5. "The Faculty" A March, A. Miller.
    No. 5 respectfully dedicated to the faculty of Brigham Young University.
  • An article quickly appeared expressing the satisfaction of those who attended the concert:
    The BYU Band and Orchestra Concert which was given Wednesday evening in College Hall was of a very high order. Every selection was evidence of much intelligent practice, and of the native ability of the performers.

    The rendition "Hazelene" -- Cornet Solo by Mr. Fjelsted -- was excellent. The audience delighted with "The Faculty" a composition of Professor Albert Miller's, which was then played for the first time in public. Let us have more of this kind of entertainment.
    By this time, Professor Miller had made good progress in his use of the English language. There was still an accent, which help him to command everyone's attention to what he was saying. Sometimes his remarks were quoted in the school paper:
    Professor Miller -- "Dis is de base Wiol; she is de grandfadder to dem all!"
    A special program commemorating Washington's birthday was prepared, featuring the Orchestra. The first number on the program was "Medley of National Airs" and the last number was "Jolly Companions".
    Band Wagon Transportation
    A Horse-Drawn Band Wagon

    The Ill-Fated 1905-1906 School Year

    At the beginning of the school year 1905-1906, the band department had so grown that it became necessary to add a fourth band. This was called the "Concert Band." It was open for those who had completed courses A, B. and C. Public playing was a feature. Individual members were trained in the art of conducting.

    Now Professor Miller was busier than he had ever been. Not only did he have the responsibility of four bands and an orchestra, but he also taught a special class in conducting bands and orchestras.

    Besides his teaching work, Professor Miller was a valuable member of the Salt Lake Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Professor Arthur Shepherd. Music trips were often combined with work in the temple.

    Albert Miller was also active in fulfilling Church and citizenship responsibilities:
    He was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He assisted with the music in the Provo Fourth Ward, Utah Stake. He was an honorable community member and had the philosophy of life to help others if they were in need. He kept his home and surroundings clean.

    At one stake conference, Apostle Reed Smoot was the visiting brother and he spoke on "Cleanliness is Godliness." The next morning, Albert and Elsa were out cleaning up their yard, raking lawns and making everything spic and span. When the neighbors inquired about their activities they said, "Cleanliness is next to Godliness."
    Professor Miller was frequently known to help others when in need. In doing ward teaching he would often leave money on a table or chair of the needy without saying anything about it.

    Professor Miller lived mainly for the Gospel. He once said,"If I had to make a choice between my life and my testimony, I would give my life."

    His primary reason for coming to Utah had been to perform ordinance work in the Temple for his dead ancestors. He diligently worked to accomplish this. He and his wife went to the Temple often and spent considerable time doing research. A significant amount of their family work was accomplished.

    He became known for his ability to explain the Gospel. Besides teaching music classes, Miller taught a religion class. Once when students in his religion classes cheated, he did not say anything to them. The expression on his face told them that he was thoroughly ashamed and that they had dishonored the school.

    Since his arrival in America, Profession Miller had kept in touch with Robert Sauer in Germany. Albert wrote letters to Robert about Brigham Young Academy, and then Brigham Young University, and how he desired to have someone assist him in his work with the bands and orchestra.

    In June 1905, Robert Sauer sold all of his earthly belongings in Germany, except for his musical instruments, and made the long journey across the Atlantic and then across the country to Provo. He began to assist Professor Miller with the bands and orchestra, along with Samuel Jepperson.

    One of the outstanding attractions at BYU was a concert presented by the band and orchestra the second Friday of each month. The quality attained the same high musical standard of previous years. "The Brigham Young University Band and Orchestra gave their second concert in College Hall Friday, November 10 [1905]. An excellent program was rendered."

    The climax of these concerts was the Christmas Concert.
    Professor's wing of the Department of Music will illustrate A Christmas in Germany, Friday evening, December 13th. The affair will be unique in many ways. Professor Miller promises us a splendid entertainment."
    The concert was unique. The children in attendance were especially pleased with it.
    A Christmas in Germany - Albert Miller
    As one of Professor Miller's former students, Arnold Burgener, explains it:
    His orchestra brought the spirit of Christmas to all, as in some of his numbers he had members of the band play toy instruments that Santa Claus had placed in front of the band. Santa was there and handed these toy instruments to the orchestra members who played them.
    This was the most popular concert of the year, according to this note in the school paper:
    The largest audience ever seen in College Hall was present to see A Christmas in Germany, as given by Professor Miller and his band boys. The concert was of the same high grade that the Professor always gives.
    Professor Miller's dance orchestra played often during the fall and winter of 1905. They traveled to Heber, Kamas, Lehi, and other towns.

    The circumstances that led to his death occurred on a trip to Lehi and back. Arnold Burgener, one of the orchestra members who was present, recalls:
    It was a very cold night with some snow on the ground. There were no automobiles yet to be known and we all had to ride in a white-topped surrey drawn by a pair of horses. The dance was on a Friday night. After the dance we all piled into the surrey and started for Provo, eighteen miles away. While coming home Professor Miller told us stories, some of which were funny, and we all had a hearty laugh at times. He also told us Bible stories and we all enjoyed these immensely.

    The Saturday morning after the dance he had taken cold and had to stay in bed. Monday morning he didn't come to school, and word was sent to the school that he had walking Typhoid fever, and that he was getting worse.
    When Professor Miller didn't return to school Monday, great concern was shown, both by the student body and by the citizens of Provo. Many of his friends came to visit to him and some administered to him. Both school and city newspapers showed an interest in his recovery.
    Brother Miller, our beloved bandmaster, is very ill with typhoid-pneumonia. The daily prayers of the student body are for his speedy recovery. [The Blue & White]

    Professor Albert Miller of the Brigham Young University has been critically ill for some time from typhoid-pneumonia. His condition is believed to be slightly improved. [The Provo Daily Enquirer]
    January 31, 1906

    Professor Albert Miller died at ten o'clock on the morning of January 31, 1906, on the twenty-fifth birthday of his wife, Elsa, and in his thirty-first year.

    The student body and community were shocked and they grieved at his death. Notices of his death were carried in the Provo Daily Enquirer, The White and Blue, The Deseret News, The Salt Lake Tribune, and the German Beobacher. The expression of the student body was as follows:
    We as a student body, bow in humble submission to the will of our Heavenly Father, but we feel a great sorrow over our loss, and realize that it is almost, if not quite impossible, to ever find another man who can fill Brother Miller's place. Everyone in the entire student body extends their heartfelt sympathy to Sister Miller and their little ones, realizing how irreparable is their loss.
    Concerning Professor Miller, Provo's local newspaper, The Provo Daily Enquirer, said:
    Professor Miller was devoted to his art, and had the facility of inspiring enthusiasm and love for the work in his students, to whom he was unselfishly devoted, taking a personal interest in each. This led to a relation of mutual confidence and love between teacher and students, and his students mourn his death as that of a brother. His relations with the faculty were equally as pleasant, his intelligent and undivided devotion to his duties and the advancement of the school, compelling the esteem and love of his associates. The sincere sympathy of the faculty and students of the University and all the acquaintances of Professor Miller is extended to the bereaved family.
    Funeral on Saturday, February 3, 1906

    The large attendance at his funeral in the Utah Stake Tabernacle at Provo was ample proof that he had made many friends in his five eventful years at Brigham Young.

    Newspaper articles concerning him said:
    The entire student body of the Brigham Young University and faculty, numbering over 1,000, formed in procession at the University, and preceded by a band, formed of the University band and many local musicians, marched to the residence, and from there accompanied the remains to the tabernacle. [The Deseret News]

    At the entrance to the tabernacle grounds, the students and friends formed in two lines, the hearse bearing the remains, and the mourners passing between the lines, entering the tabernacle under the stars and stripes and school colors. The tabernacle was filled, many citizens attending to show their respects to the bereaved family. [Provo Daily Enquirer]

    The services were presided over by President J. B. Keeler, and the BYU Choir furnished the music. Members of the faculty occupied seats on the stand which was tastefully decorated in white with beautiful floral designs occupying the immediate front. The choir sang, "Come Ye Disconsolate." The opening prayer was offered by H. E. Smart. The choir sang, "Crossing the Bar." [Provo Daily Enquirer]
    The speakers were A. L. Booth, President J. B. Keeler, George Webb of Lehi, Professor Anthony Lund, and President George H. Brimhall. The choir sang, "Nearer My God to Thee" and the closing prayer was offered by President David John.

    When the procession entered the cemetery, a brass quartet slipped away from the band and played a beautiful selection. When the casket was lowered the quartet played another selection.

    An inscription to his memory, emulating his faith and good works was written by Willametta Sperry and adopted by members of the Provo Fourth Ward, February 4, 1906:
    It was in a far off country that he heard the gospel sound,
    Where he learned to love the message that God's servants brought around,
    So he left his friends and kindred, for 'twas his desire to dwell
    In the valleys of the Mountains, where he's served his maker well.
    He possessed the art of music and with this gift from above,
    He has cheered the hearts of many, filled our souls with stronger love;
    Can we tell how much we'll miss him? We know our loss is great indeed.
    In our Sunday School, Ward, and Choir, Brother Miller we'll ever need.
    He was always meek and lowly, songs of praise he sang each day.
    He was one prepared for Heaven, for his earthly work was done.
    He was ready to be taken, his reward was nobly won.
    Yes, everywhere we'll miss him, but his memory will live long,
    Just another noble spirit called to join the heavenly throng.
    May the Lord who in much wisdom took him from this world of strife
    Look down now in tender mercy on his dear beloved wife.
    He has told us that our troubles shall be no more than we can bear,
    And we know the Lord deals justly -- Father, protect her with Thy care.
    Professor Albert Miller's untimely death left a young mother with two small children, and a third yet to be born. He had just built a large home for which he had not yet fully paid. The faculty did not overlook the economic condition of the Miller family, but discussed the matter and decided to help out.
    In view of the financial condition in which the wife and children of Professor Miller were left, the faculty, by unanimous consent, decided to contribute 20% of their present monthly salary to help redeem the mortgage now on the home, and the treasurer was authorized to deduct 20% from the teachers' salary for the present month, and draw a check for this amount in favor of E. D. Partridge, agent, he having been appointed to act as the faculty's agent in this matter. [BYU Faculty Minutes]
    As a single mother, Elsa Miller courageously raised their three children, including one daughter born soon after her father's death. Elsa Miller was born on January 31, 1881, and died on December 13, 1962. She is interred in the Provo City Cemetery, next to her husband, Albert.
    Grave Stone of Albert and Elsa Miller

    Some of the Leaders Touched by Professor Miller

    Professor Albert Miller, as a teacher, desired to produce not only musicians but leaders, and particularly leaders of bands and orchestras.

    In order to realize to what extent his desires have been fulfilled, the following list was prepared showing some of his students and their accomplishments in music:
  • Warren Allred -- Directed orchestra at Brigham Young Training School.

  • Kenneth J. Bird -- Teacher and supervisor of music in Alpine School District.

  • Arnold Burgener -- Music supervisor at Heber High School, Price High School, and California schools, where he organized the largest boys and girls bands in the West.

  • Ralph Booth -- Violinist and teacher at Brigham Young University.

  • David Gourley -- Superintendent of Alpine School District, and later, superintendent of public schools of Utah.

  • Clarence J. Hawkins -- Music instructor at the University of Utah, Army band leader, Director of Military Band, and private music instructor in Salt Lake City.

  • Emery G. Epperson -- Directed theatre orchestras in Provo, Manti, Salt Lake City; music teacher and supervisor in Provo School District and Jordan School District.

  • Samuel "Sam" Jepperson -- Teacher and assistant director of Brigham Young University bands under Professor Miller; directed the Provo City Band, Elks Band, the Lehi, Springville, Payson and Nephi bands; directed the first Provo Boys Band.

  • William D. Holt -- Music teacher and supervisor in Grantsville, Spanish Fork, and Tooele schools.

  • William McAllister -- Chairman of the Department of Music at Dixie Junior College in St. George, Utah.

  • John Sonderegger -- First clarinetist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra.
  • And many more. Professor Miller had a life-long influence on his students. Many of his students eventually became prominent musicians and leaders of instrumental groups throughout the nation. In addition, many of his students founded lasting musical families that continue to the present day.
    Provo Tabernacle Painting by Al Rounds
    Provo Tabernacle & Academy Avenue ~ Abt 1900

    We are greatly indebted to Richard W. Robinson for the research and writing of his 36-page BYU Master of Arts thesis on Professor Albert Miller, published in July 1957, including historic photographs. Special thanks to Albert's grandson, Glen L. Miller, for sharing this rare thesis document with the BYA/BYH website.

    One of the key sources of information about Albert Miller in his Provo years was the school newspaper, called The White & Blue, published from 1898 to 1923. When not attributed, quotes are from this publication.

    Professor Albert Miller was welcomed as a talented musician from Germany, and died young at age 31. His young wife, Elsa, was left to raise three children by herself. Their son Karl, named after Karl G. Maeser, founder of Brigham Young Academy, often felt ostracized during his years at Brigham Young High School because of his German name and heritage. However, Karl came into his own during his university years and during his life career at BYU. Karl died at the amazing age of 105, having been prominently associated with BYU even after his retirement. Both Albert and his son Karl were greatly respected during their adult lives, and were highly honored at their passings.



    Son, Karl A. Miller



    BYH Biographies