Thursday, November 5, 2020

An Obituary for Frank E. Dodge

Note: The following was written by referencing historical records including newspapers, trade publications, directory listings, and census records. While Dodge was memorialized at the time of his death (Musical America offered about 150 words while a brief mention in the Boston Globe totaled only 35), this reconstructed obituary offers a more complete remembrance of his life than anything previously published.

November 5, 1918

Frank Dodge, one of New England's leading orchestra drummers and timpanists who authored two widely used method books and built Boston's largest drum manufacturing company, died on November 5th. He was 41.

Dodge fell ill during the recent epidemic of influenza and died after a stay of five days in Peter Bent Brigham Hospital according to his brother Harry Dodge.

In recent years, Mr. Dodge worked extensively as an orchestra manager supplying musicians to the Maine Music Festival and the Boston Opera Orchestra where he also performed as timpanist. Lately, during the war effort, he had been serving as an instructor for the Army and Navy band school at the New England Conservatory.

Besides his brother Harry, survivors include his wife, Eugenia Metzger Dodge, and daughters Florence and Dorothy.

Frank Edward Dodge was born on July 10th, 1877 in Wenham to Frank and Maria (McCarthy) Dodge. The family moved during the 1880s to Boston where Dodge graduated from English High School in 1896. He furthered his formal schooling at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he completed studies in Mechanical Engineering and Chemistry. Serving as treasurer of the freshman orchestra while at MIT foretold of his career over the next two decades.

By his early twenties, Dodge had become in demand as a xylophone soloist appearing regularly at some of the city's grandest venues including the Boston Theatre, with the acclaimed First Regiment Band, and the Colonial Theatre on Boylston Street. There were performances with the Boston Festival Orchestra and a trip to the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis with Stewart's Boston Band too. He was reported to be joining John Philip Sousa's band soon after, but instead turned his attention to drum manufacturing where he would merge his musical talent with his technical training.

The F. E. Dodge Company was incorporated in 1903 with a capital of $50,000 and with the help of Mr. William J. Blair, formerly of Boston's Blair & Baldwin, quickly became the largest and most innovative percussion instrument maker in New England. The firm operated for eight years along Appleton Street manufacturing drums, traps, xylophones, orchestra bells, and timpani. In 1912, Dodge's business was succeeded by Nokes & Nicolai who continue to catalogue many products branded with the Dodge name.

Mr. Dodge was the author of two widely used instruction books for drums. "The Dodge Drum Chart", published in 1908, offered a systematic approach to rudimental drumming patterns. The "Dodge Drum School", released in 1909, was a more comprehensive method book containing material for bells, xylophone, and timpani as well as musical examples for many of the drummer's traps.

A devoted teacher, Mr. Dodge taught privately from the Boston Opera House and lately had been instructing the Mrs. Oliver Ames, Sr., Band at North Easton. Dodge's best known pupil is George Lawrence Stone of Boston's Geo. B. Stone & Son. Messrs. Dodge and Stone shared the stage many times over the years including for five seasons with the now defunct Boston Opera Orchestra.

An active member of the American Federation of Musicians,  Mr. Dodge was chosen by Union President Joseph N. Weber to represent the American Federation of Musicians at the Convention of the League to Enforce Peace at Philadelphia in 1917. Also last year, Dodge was appointed by Andrew James Peters, the Mayor of Boston, to the Music Commission of the City of Boston.

Funeral services will be hosted by the McCarthy family at 48 Saint Stephen Street on Friday, November 8th at 10 A.M. Interment will follow at Waterside Cemetery in Marblehead.