About Under the Baton

Under the Baton: Music at Old Cedar Point


Prior to the Civil War, amusement parks were primarily the domain of the wealthy members of society, but with the post war success of the Second Industrial Revolution, rising wages, shorter work weeks, transportation enhancements, and improved working conditions, the amusement park experience soon became accessible to everyone.  During this era of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries American Concert Band Music, epitomized by Patrick Gilmore and John Philip Sousa, became popular throughout the country and was played in concert halls, outdoor pavilions, parades, and the popular new amusement parks, including Cedar Point Resort. 

“Under the Baton” explores the role of music at Cedar Point as it grew into a popular resort. By focusing on the lives, bands, and compositions of directors Charles Baetz, E.B. Ackley and Leopold Adler, we will better understand the influence concert band music had on the culture of the day.

Dr. Steven Plank, Musicologist at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, will provide in-depth insight and analysis into the musical compositions, the bands, and the instruments of the period, while Cedar Point Vice President and General Manager John Hildebrandt will present a narrative of the park’s history.  Through the use of historical photos, musical scores, primary source material from the Sandusky Library Archives, expert interviews, artifacts from the Oberlin College Selch Collection of American Music History, and a musical performance by members of the Firelands Symphony Orchestra directed by Maestro Carl Topilow, an engaging history of Golden Age music at Cedar Point will be explored.

This program is made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and by a generous gift from the Cedar Point Amusement Park.


Funding for this program was made possible in part by the Ohio Humanities Council with support by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of the National Endowment for the Humanities, or of the Ohio Humanities Council.