Commemorating MSU’s Legendary Band Director
Plaque dedication ceremony celebrates the life and career of Leonard Falcone.
For 40 years (1927–1967) Leonard Falcone, then director of bands, filled classrooms, stages, and Spartan stadium with awe-inspiring music.
Today, echoes of his traditions are still heard, and now seen, in the halls of the Music Building. Thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of MSU Alumni Band Association members, nearly $10,000 was raised to acquire an impressive 2-foot by 3-foot bronze plaque that adorns the hallway near his old office, capturing the attention of busy students headed to class and rehearsals.
“Last fall, a group of us decided that for all the good work that was done by Dr. Falcone there should be some type of tribute to him,” says Ed Deeb, a band member from 1956–1960 (BAdv ’60). “We decided that we should raise some funds and have a plaque attached to the wall nearest his old office.”
Members of the MSU Alumni Band Association, leaders from the College of Music, and family and friends of Leonard Falcone gathered for a dedication ceremony in late April to unveil the plaque.
The ceremony, lead by Kevin Sedatole, director of bands, and John Madden, associate director of bands and director of the Spartan Marching Band, underscored how Flacone’s legacy still lives on today at MSU.
“The Falcone Plaque dedication was a wonderful event celebrating the life and career of Leonard Falcone,” says Sedatole. “It was meaningful to have his wife and two daughters present along with many former students. Their presence represents the tradition of excellence Dr. Falcone established so many years ago.”
During his tenure, Falcone’s leadership guided bands during MSU’s transition from a state college, to a university, and to membership in the Big Ten Conference. Marking a historic change, he moved away from the “military style” marching band uniforms to establish the ever-memorable Spartan green and white, which debuted at the 1954 Rose Bowl. Falcone also introduced the famous Spartan “kick-step,” a long-standing tradition of the Spartan Marching Band.
A talented musician, Falcone was considered a renowned baritone player and recognized as one of the best in the world. A dedicated teacher in and outside the classroom, he was a regular mentor at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp. In September of 2014, the Michigan State Senate prepared a special tribute proclamation acknowledging his 40 years of service at Michigan State University. Falcone died in 1985 at the age of 86.
The tribute committee consisted of alumni band president Stacie Detgen, and band alumni members Jim Barry, Greg Pell, Betty Elliott, Abby Zarimba, Ed Deeb, William Sachs, and Gary Baron.