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Charles Trussell aka Carlile Vernon, (1860, London, England - 1946, Bauple, Queensland, Australia) was a prominent musician in brass bands (British style) both in Australia and New Zealand during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He served as band master of a number of bands in both countries and was a significant composer and arranger of brass band music. He also was an adjudicator at brass band contests. He is also believed to have written vocal music.
In 1887, after 13 years service in the army, Trussell followed relatives to Australia and settled in Maryborough, before moving to Tasmania. Shortly thereafter he was appointed conductor of the Latrobe Brass (later Federal) Band. He also became conductor of the Deloraine Band, conducted a church choir, and later on entertained as part of a group called the Federal Minstrels. In 1895 he was married to Minnie Ada Biggins (b.1863 in Tasmania)
In 1895, Trussell moved to New Zealand settling in Auckland where he was appointed band master of the Newton (later Auckland Battalion) Band. He also judged band contests, the first being the 1897 Goldfields Band Contest in Te Aroha. He was a prominent member of the North Island Brass Band Association. During this time, he played cricket for the St. Albans Cricket Club in Auckland.
By 1900, he had moved to Nelson and was band master of the Nelson Garrison Band. It was about this time he had composed the Alexandra Dance. In 1901 he composed the march Joys of Life for the national band contest held that year in New Plymouth.
In November 1903 Trussell moved back to the North Island, to Waihi. As band master of the Waihi Federal Band he improved the standard of the band to one of the best in the country.
During this time his compositional output increased, with several marches written each year (including Rimutaka (1905), Mount Egmont (1905), N. I. B. B. A. (1907)), arrangements of operatic selections for contests (including L' Ebreo (1904) and La Traviata (1906)) and a fantasias Concordia (1903) and The Tournament (1906).
In April 1907 Trussell hosted the prestigious Besses o' th' Barn Band from England as part of their world tour. Shortly after this, in May 1907, he and his wife were farewelled from Waihi where the town presented him with a marble clock in recognition of the contribution made to the town. Silver hair brushes were presented to his wife. In the press and in band circles, Trussell had become known as "the New Zealand March King".
Confusion has arisen about a later band master of the Waihi Federal Band. Between 1910 and 1914, and again in 1925, the band master was a Mr. T. Russell. It has been assumed that Trussell and Russell were in fact the same person with Trussell's name being a contraction of T. Russell used for composing purposes. It seems this is a misunderstanding and that Charles Trussell and T. Russell appear to be two different people, as both apparently were conducting different bands in different places at the same time. Mr. T. Russell, like Trussell, appears to have originally come from England, but when he returned in 1925, he is recorded as having come back from England. He also apparently returned to England due to ill health. Charles Trussell would have been both coming from and returning to Australia rather than England at this time.[original research?]
Return to Australia
In 1907 Trussell moved back to Australia, this time settling in Ipswich, Queensland. He was appointed conductor of the Ipswich Vice-Regal Band, a position he held until his retirement in 1923. His wife died aged 58 in 1925 after an illness.
He then moved to live near Bauple, Queensland. He continued playing with bands and was active composing and arranging (mostly contest pieces for brass bands) during this time receiving high praise for the quality of his music, especially his various selections from Verdi operas
This list is most likely incomplete. All works listed are composed or arranged for brass band unless otherwise stated.
Included are works by the pseudonymous Carlile Vernon. These works are indicated and are believed to be composed by Charles Trussell, but it has also been suggested they are works by Welsh composer William Carlile Bawden (b.1857, d.1925).
Capiscolus (March) c. 1896
This is probably not an original composition by Trussell as reported. It is most likely Trussell conducting a performance the piece Capiscolus (Quickstep) by American William E. M. Petee, 1883. A copy of this piece with Trussell's name stamped on it is held in the Kerepehi Brass Band Library.
Rimutaka (March) 1903
Composed as the A Grade Test March (quickstep) for the Masterton Contest, 1903
Wanganui wins quickstep at Masterton Contest Rimutaka March listed as being specially composed for the event)
Verdi (Grand Selection) (arr. Trussell)
Quite likely another of his selections composed by Verdi.
Victorine (Intermezzo?) (March?) c. 1903
A March entitled Victorine composed by William Rimmer (music) exists stamped with C. Trussell. So this is likely to have been mistaken as a composition by Trussell.
^"Papers Past" "Wanganui and Kaikorai play Garden Party" (Part of Auckland Contest) at the Auckland Domain Cricket Ground "Waihi" Trussell's Annexation March, over 7000 present. Wanganui Herald, Whanganui, 16 February 1905
^p68, p72, Challenging Brass, 100 Years of Brass Band Contests in New Zealand, by S. P. Newcomb, 1980 Powerbrass Music Co. Ltd, Takapuna.
A photograph of the Waihi Band (prior to joining with other bands to form the Waihi Federal Band)in 1898 shows a cornet player called C. Trussell. This is possibly a different person but given his later connection it could be a photograph of Trussell.