The Spring Garden Band of York is reputed to be the fourth oldest continuously active band in the United States, having existed prior to the Civil War. The band was founded in 1855 by William Frey with a small group of musicians who named themselves the Spring Garden Silver Cornet Band. During the Civil War, the band was attached to Ellsworth Zouaves, a local military organization, and later became the official musical organization of the 87th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers until their separation in 1862.
During the war, the band was attached to units of the Union Army stationed at various locations including Cockeysville, Baltimore, and West Virginia. Their final public appearance was in 1897 at a reunion of the 87th Regiment.
In 1891, a group of young men formed the Spring Garden Junior Band a few blocks from the founding of the original Silver Cornet Band. In a short time, over half of the band was composed of sons, brothers, and nephews of former members of the senior band. In 1893, when the older group retired, the new band inherited the instruments to carry on the tradition with the same quality and vigor.
In recent years, the band has gained recognition for its well-orchestrated and balanced performances, with a high level of musicianship. The band has performed at several significant events, including two presidential inaugurations, numerous governor inaugurations, and state fairs across the country.
The current band consists of 55 musicians who present a series of summer "park" concerts, a midwinter concert, and a spring concert. Over the years, the band has featured several famous and highly regarded soloists including Doc Severinsen, Urbie Green, Leonard Smith, Bob Rosengarden, Roger Williams, Clark Terry, Harvey Phillips, Brian Bowman, and Frank Kaderabek.