Charles C. Freitag, the longtime director of the music program at Calvert Hall College High School where he was also a founder of its marching, concert and dance bands, died Monday of heart failure at Stella Maris Hospice. The Mays Chapel resident was 92.
"Charlie was responsible for building the music program to an outstanding level during his time. He expanded the musical options and started the yearly spring concerts," said Calvert Hall Principal Louis E. Heidrick, who was a friend of Mr. Freitag's for more than 40 years.
"He was always full of energy and enthusiasm. He was the Calvert Hall music program," said Mr. Heidrick.
"He was just a Calvert Hall legend because he had taught so many generations of students," said Tim P. Hartnett, who played piano in the jazz band and graduated in 2002. "He was extremely passionate about teaching, and he always had words of encouragement. He'd stop me in the halls and tell me to keep practicing my music."
The son of William H. Freitag Sr., a professor of music at the Peabody Conservatory, and Belle H. Freitag, a vaudeville singer and dancer, Charles Corden Freitag was born in Baltimore and raised in Hamilton.
Mr. Freitag made his professional musical debut in 1925 as a member of the Four Little Freitags, a family vaudeville act directed by his father. It featured his brothers, Dell Freitag and Bill Freitag, and his sister, Dorothea Freitag, who later became a noted Broadway composer and arranger.
A 1938 graduate of City College, Mr. Freitag, who played drums, trumpet and trombone, traveled throughout the country with several dance bands.
From 1941 to 1946, he served in the Army, where he directed military bands whose members at times included Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorsey, family members said. He also conducted the Philadelphia Quartermaster Dance Band. At his 1946 discharge, he had attained the rank of captain.
The next year, he was appointed house manager at the Lyric Opera House.
Mr. Freitag earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore.
Mr. Freitag joined the Calvert Hall faculty as a music teacher in 1953 and was appointed director of music in 1967.
"He'd take the marching band to Disney World to perform, and every year they marched in the four area Fourth of July parades," said Mr. Heidrick.
In addition to his teaching and conducting duties, Mr. Freitag owned and operated the Freitag School of Music, which was founded by his father on Greenmount Avenue in Waverly. The school also had a branch in Glen Burnie.
Dan Connolly, a Baltimore Sun sportswriter, studied music with Mr. Freitag and played in his bands while a student at Calvert Hall.
"He made you learn and love music. He had such enthusiasm and knew how to infuse everyone with a love of music. Even though I may have been his worst clarinet student and band member ever," Mr. Connolly said with a laugh.
"He always made it enjoyable and had a great sense of community. He was a character and an older gentleman and he kept us all in line," said Mr. Connolly, who graduated in 1987. "He had this wisp of white hair and when he got mad, it stood up, and we knew we had gotten him."
He described Mr. Freitag's conducting style as "demonstrative."
"When he was conducting, he'd stand on a little platform. One day, he fell off but kept on conducting the one-half of the band that kept playing," said Mr. Connolly. "It proved what he always told us: 'The show must go on.' "
Mr. Heidrick said that every year before the school's annual Christmas concert, Mr. Freitag would appear on stage dressed as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
During the 2002-2003 school year, Mr. Freitag was named a Distinguished Lasallian Educator.
"His band members were always disciplined on the marching field and in the concert hall, but more importantly, Charlie always taught them to be responsible students and gentlemen," according to the award.
"Even if you weren't in the band, everyone in the school knew Mr. Freitag. He was unforgettable," said Mr. Hartnett, who is a music teacher at Mike's Music in Ellicott City.
"I'm still passionate about music because of him," said Mr. Connolly.
Mr. Freitag retired in 2006.
The longtime Timonium resident, who moved to Mays Chapel 15 years ago, judged many musical contests and festivals through the years. He also wrote many original compositions and collaborated on "30 Modernistic Studies" published by Gornston Co. He also wrote a beginner method for trumpet students that was brought out by Dell Publishing Co.
His wife of 65 years, the former Mabel Gray Hemric, died last year.
Funeral services for Mr. Freitag will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Timonium Presbyterian Church, 303 W. Timonium Road.
Surviving are a son, Chuck Freitag of Hunt Valley; a daughter, Gae Bradley of Timonium; four grandchildren; and a great-grandson.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun