Originally from Italy, the Montani family immigrated to Utica, New York, in 1878 and moved to Indianapolis in 1881. The five sons of local businessman Ferdinand Montani, owner of fruit and confectionery stands throughout the city, formed an orchestra in 1890 and played throughout the Midwest until the 1920s.

Montani Brothers Orchestra, 1904 Credit: Indiana Historical Society View Source

With Guy (1865-1907) as leader and violinist, Domenico (1867-1957), harpist, Pasquale (1874-1955), flutist, Antonio (1875-1948), violinist, and Nicola (1880-1948), cornetist, the group specialized in performing at weddings, receptions, banquets, recitals, and commencements. In 1890, Guy and Domenico helped organize the Indianapolis Protective Union. It was the first union for musicians founded in Indianapolis and only the third such union organized in the United States.

Locally, they played the English Hotel, Germania Hall, the Maennerchor, the Commercial Club, the Columbia Club, masonic lodges, parks, and private homes. The Montani’s appeared at the opening of the Claypool Hotel in 1903 and at the 29th  National Gymnastic Festival of the North American Gymnastics Union in 1905.

The group frequently hired other area musicians and routinely traveled to Greencastle, Bloomington, Rushville, and Muncie. While waiting for trains at Union Station, they would play impromptu concerts to supplement their income. 

The brothers continued their musical careers as teachers and musicians after they ceased playing together. The most notable, Nicola, became a well-known composer of Catholic liturgical music and was knighted in 1926 by Pope Pius XI.

Revised March 2021

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