Musician Extraordinaire - Modesto's Music Man

Frank Mancini

While it's mostly Modestans who know his name, Frank "Proof" Mancini was playing with the John Philip Sousa band in San Francisco at the Panama Pacific Exposition and eventually came to Modesto to play in the orchestra for the opening of the Strand Theatre in 1921. He decided that the Central Valley was very much like his native Italy, and he stayed.

He was the award-winning band director at Modesto High School, helped found the Modesto Symphony Orchestra and the Stanislaus County Boys Band. He brought culture and music to Modesto, and left a legacy that continues today. When he died in 1964, Prof. Mancini was a beloved figure in his adopted hometown. He and his wife left their ranch on River Road to the city to become a park. Mancini Bowl in Graceada Park is home to the Modesto Band of Stanislaus County (MoBand), whose forerunner was the Boys Band.

In 1994, Mancini was posthumously elected into the National Band Association's Hall of Fame located at Troy State University in Troy, Alabama.

Papers and documents relating to his life and his career are on deposit at the University of Maryland in the American Bandmasters Association Research Center. To visit that site, click here. To download a PDF of a listing of Frank Mancini's papers click on download. Download


From the Abstract to his papers:

Frank Mancini (1886-1964) studied the clarinet while growing up in Italy. He came to the United States in 1907 to play as a soloist with Ellerys Royal Italian Band. Between 1908 and 1915, he played with both Sousas and Conways bands, as well as numerous opera companies.

Mancini settled in Modesto, California, in 1921 to lead the Stanislaus County Boys Band. He became an important educator and conductor in the area for the next four decades, directing the band programs in the Modesto Public Schools and Modesto Junior College. His bands won many awards, and Mancini was very active as a guest conductor and adjudicator. Mancini taught noted band composer Roger Nixon at Modesto Junior College from 1938-1940. Mancini was elected into the American Bandmasters Association in 1940 at the convention in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Mancini had a close relationship with the community of Modesto. In their wills, Mancini and his wife left cash, stocks, and other investments for a considerable music scholarship fund for music students at Modesto High School. They also left their 23-acre ranch to the City of Modesto, later dedicated Mancini Park.

The Modesto Symphony Orchestra in a photograph taken sometime in the 1930s or 40s. Frank Mancini was the conductor, and he is seated in the center, slightly to the right. This was probably taken on the stage of the Strand Theatre.

Link: Modesto Symphony Website

Link: William Higgins and the Stanislaus County Boys Band

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