Caesar LaMonaca (1886–1983) was a musician, prolific composer and band leader who worked mostly in California and Florida throughout the 20th Century.
As a child in San Severo, Italy he found he had an affinity for music, like his older brother Joseph. By age nine, he became good enough as a French horn and trumpet player that he was able to join a professional concert band touring Europe. Joseph LaMonaca was already playing flute in the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra and was able to help Caesar find a gig with Guiseppe Creatore's Italian Band. That launched Caesar's career in America. He traveled throughout the U.S. and began conducting the Creatore Band at age 16.
Mr. LaMonaca first settled in California, where he played everywhere from Santa Barbara to San Francisco and had recurring gigs at the Greek Theater in Berkeley. After touring with various ensembles, including Ellery's Royal Italian Bands, he moved to Miami in the early 1920s to conduct a band at the Roman Pools and by 1926 was director of the Hollywood, Florida municipal band. In 1926 LaMonaca accepted an offer to conduct in Miami and replace the famed Arthur Pryor, but that season was interrupted by the Great Miami Hurricane. It is noted that LaMonaca's Hollywood band immediately began to play at area hospitals and for free for all victims of the hurricane, as soon as they were able.
In 1929, he became director of the Harvey Seeds American Legion Post band, which he led for twenty years. After Miami rebuilt the Bayfront Park Amphiteater, his band gave concerts there for the next 50 years.
In 1931, he formed the Greater Miami Boys Drum and Bugle Corps, which he headed until 1955. That drum corps traveled the world and won several competitions. At one point the depression-era WPA was used creatively to assist out-of-work musicians and as many as 14 teachers were paid to assist the drum corps, which swelled to over 360 members.
LaMonaca is also cited as the creator of the West Palm Beach Municipal Band, which he lost the contract for in 1930. During the early 40's, LaMonaca volunteered to conduct the 265th Coast Artillery Band of the Florida National Guard, a military unit that was stationed in Texas during World War II. That unit is the predecessor of today's 13th Army Band, Florida National Guard.
From 1946 to 1955, he also organized and directed a youth symphony that performed twice weekly during the summer months at the Bayfront Park bandshell while his symphonic band was on hiatus.
During his final concert he fell from the podium and broke his hip.