Bio: Kleffman, Ervin

Contact: Linda Mertens


Surnames: Kleffman

----Source: Research by Linda Mertens

Kleffman, Ervin

Ervin Kleffman was the son of Martin and Regina Kleffman who homesteaded in section 22 of Mayville (Clark Co., Wis.), a mile south of Dorchester, a mile west and then another half mile south. Martin and Regina were married in 1867 and immigrated to the United States from Prussia that same year, settling in Whitewater. They moved to Mayville sometime in the late 1870s. Sometime between 1895 and 1900 the family moved to Hibbing, MN. Irvin was the youngest of their eight children. (This is info I derived from searching the censuses.)  L.

Ervin Henry Kleffman (b. 11 January 1892 Dorchester, Wisconsin; d. 2 April 1987 San Gabriel, California) was an American composer whose music is played by concert and marching bands throughout the world. He is best known for his marching band compositions, Salute to Peace andChina Clipper.[1] His primary instruments were trumpet and violin.

                   Composer, Teacher : Maestro Gone but His Life's Music Lingers

April 16, 1987 Los Angeles Times

The latest lesson is still resting on the music stand, as if his next student were just about to arrive. But after 46 years and thousands of pupils, the sounds of sawing violins and blasting trumpets have finally stopped pouring from Ervin H. Kleffman's Alhambra music studio.

The tireless music instructor and marching-band composer, who continued to teach until last February, has died at 95.

"He's just been 'music' ever since we were married," said his wife, Alfreda, 90, whom Kleffman married in 1917. "That was his life."

A slim, mild-mannered man, Kleffman was something of a legend in the Alhambra School District, where for the last four decades his students have filled out the ranks of the Alhambra, San Gabriel and Mark Keppel high school bands.

The founder of the now-defunct San Gabriel Symphony Orchestra, Kleffman also attracted proteges ranging from the former principal of Mark Keppel Adult School in Alhambra to a bandmaster in Bangkok, Thailand, to whom he gave lessons via airmail.

"If there ever was a 'music man' . . . he was," said Wayne Kelly, 53, chairman of the California State University, Long Beach, journalism department, who three years ago decided to take beginning violin lessons from Kleffman. "He was one of the most patient teachers I think I have ever seen."

Outside of his inveterate teaching practice, the courtly native of Dorchester, Wis., was known for his marching-band compositions, which have been played by student groups in the Rose Parade and by civic and military bands around the world.

Several years ago, he was commissioned to write "Pride of the Nation" for the Notre Dame University band. His more vintage pieces include "Salute to Peace," "China Clipper," "Onward and Upward," "Mounties on Parade," "East Meets West," "Legionnaires on Parade" and "Blaze of Glory."

But it was through the Kleffman Music Studio--actually a spare bedroom in the couple's two-story stucco house--that the spry composer earned the affection of so many aspiring musicians.

"He had a lot of boundless energy," said Bob McCormac, who began lessons with Kleffman 30 years ago and now plays French horn in the Pasadena Symphony. "Things were so intense that by the time you looked up, the lesson had already gone by."

McCormac's father, Halstead, who spent more than 30 years teaching music in the Alhambra School District, said that Kleffman was the most popular private instructor for Alhambra students.

                   Ervin Kleffman Dies; Composer of Band Music

April 13, 1987 Los Angeles Times


An Alhambra composer whose music is played by marching bands throughout the world, Ervin H. Kleffman, has died at 95.

Kleffman, who taught music lessons until last February, died April 2 at a San Gabriel convalescent home.

He is best known for his marching band compositions, including "Salute to Peace" and "China Clipper," which are played regularly by students throughout the country and by military and civic bands in Europe, Latin America and the Far East.

Locally, Kleffman is remembered by the thousands of students who went to the spare bedroom that served as his music studio for 46 years. For $4 for half an hour, he gave intensive lessons to the 40 or 50 proteges he saw each week, often extending the session by an hour, until he was satisfied his student had mastered a particular technique.

"He's just been 'music' ever since we were married," said his wife, Alfreda, 90, whom he married in 1917. "That was his life."

Sousa Band

Kleffman was born in Dorchester, Wisc., and earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music at Vandercook College in Chicago. He taught at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago and the Chicago Conservatory of Music, where his students included members of the famed John Philip Sousa band.

In 1940, he received a doctorate in philosophy at the now-defunct Emerson University in Los Angeles and, in 1946, formed the San Gabriel Symphony Orchestra.

Kleffman, whose primary instruments were trumpet and violin, is also survived by a daughter, Jean Stuckey of Hemet.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. today at Turner and Stevens Mortuary in Alhambra.

Selected Compositions




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