Part 1

Early life and drum corps experiences: Catholic Action Corps, first corps - Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) where he met Les Parks and Nick Attanasio. Drum corps scene in 1930’s New York, differences between NY and CT repertoire 0:00
Ed’s growing awareness of the Connecticut style, 1939 trip to New Rochelle and the Union Endicott Corps 10:46
Acton Ostling 11:12
Two-stick rudimental bass drumming 12:20
The Chas. T. Kirk corps and introduction of rudimental bass drumming to New York, Harold Ripperger and Milligan???? 14:00
Army service and continued membership in the Chas. T. Kirk corps
Kirk drums made by Gus Moeller
Gus Moeller - Vaudeville, teaching Gene Krupa, physical culturist
Army life, Cloos fifes 18:16
Marriage to Cathy, fife and drum wedding 20:18
Art Shrader early life 22:15
George Carroll - Impact on repertoire, access to primary sources, creation of the “authentics” genre 23:30
The World Turned Upside Down - Historical significance, Chas. T. Kirk version, Ed Olsen plays the fife 24:30

Part 2

George Carroll - Made available a more historical source of music, background in Canadian Military, Army Band in Washington (while still in Canadian Military), formation of the Old Guard, abilities as an organizer. 0:00
George Carroll - Move to Colonial Williamsburg, Confederate States of America Fife and Drum Corps, dance band drumming, Glenn Miller Band 3:55
George Carroll books 7:25
Bruce & Emmett - Ed’s research on the authors, questions on Dan Emmett as the author, Dan Emmett manuscript prior to B&E. Questions on George Barrett Bruce and pseudonym. 8:18
Priscilla Hewitson - Ohio researcher. Use of musicologists for research vs. lay musicians. 12:17
Korczak Ziolkowski - from Connecticut to South Dakota. 15:55
Conservative/Primitive Ancients (Chester, Mattatuck, Moodus) vs. Competitive Ancients (Stony Creek, Plainville, Lancraft), tempo. 16:28
Possible connection between Moodus and Alvan Robinson (author of Massachusetts Collection of Martial Music). 17:20
Use of Wesleyan and the Library of Congress to store archival tapes (such as this one) 24:40
Hart, Mattatuck, Samuel Wilcox. 71st NY Regiment, Wilcox Drum Band, historical accounts of difference between CT and NY drummers. 26:32
Genealogical search to unlock clues in music research. 30:10


About Ed Olsen

During his life Ed Olsen was recognized by The Company of Fifers & Drummers as one of the foremost historians on the development of traditional American fifing and drumming. He was co-founder of this organization, a Trustee-for-Life, and was appointed Archivist-for-Life. He was named Curator of The Museum of Fife & Drum in 1986, a post that he retained until his passing in 2009. A fifer since his youth, Ed played with the Chas T. Kirk Fife, Drum, and Bugle Corps (one of New York's finest corps), the Sons of Liberty, and the Ancient Mariners. The last drum corps in which he played in and helped develop was the Sons of the Whiskey Rebellion from Branford, CT in 1989.

Archival Notes

Interviewer: Art Schrader
Date: Nov. 23, 1989

This recording of the Ed Olsen interview exists in the Company of Fifers & Drummers archive as a series of cassette tapes, but from the quality and certain comments on the tape it can be inferred that this is transferred from an original reel to reel recording. The recording is of high quality and both speakers can be clearly heard.

The interview contains wide-ranging and often circular topics. The timings given are approximate, and it is best listened to as a whole, as sometimes topics are started, abandoned, and revisited in rapid succession.

Very little editing was done except to reduce tape noise and boost the volume of the voices.