Gardell Simons was born in Allegan, Michigan August 16, 1878. He was the youngest of four children of Howard and May Simons, who were farmers. He began playing the Trombone as a young man and joined various community bands in Southern Michigan.
He soon began touring with the Wallace Brothers Circus. In 1900 he left the road to study with A. F. Weldon at the Siegel-Myers School of Music to whom his “Weldon Polka” is dedicated. Among his student colleagues was Jaroslav Cimera.
Simons played one season with the Duss Band in New York before moving to Chicago from 1902-1910 to free lance. He played one season as soloist with John Philip Sousa’s Band before join Conway’s Band in 1911. He stayed as soloist with Conway until 1918.
Leopold Stokowski hired him to be Principal Trombonist in the Philadelphia Orchestra in 1918 where he stayed until 1933. During this period he taught at the Curtis Institute where two of his pupils were Clay Smith and Emory Remington.
From 1934 until 1938 he played in Cincinnati under Fritz Reiner and Arthur Rodzinski.
In 1938 he returned to New York City to perform as Principal Trombonist in the NBC Symphony under Arturo Toscanini.
The bulk of Simon’s solos for Trombone and Band were written in a short period around 1915. These include The Volunteer, The Gondolier and Atlantic Zephyrs. His method The Simons School, a Modern Treatise for the Slide Trombone was written in 1930 while he was teaching at Curtis.
During this period, Simons also served as a consultant for the instrument manufacturer H. N. White of Cleveland. From 1934-1940 they sold a special Gardell Simons Cello-Tone Trombone.
The only extent of recording by Simons as a soloist is on Nearer My God To Thee, accompanied by Conway’s Band.
He can also be heard on numerous recordings with both the Philadelphia and NBC Symphonies.
Gardell Simons retired to Miami Florida where he died on March 22, 1945. He was 66 years old.
Gregory Cox - 2016