Lifetime Achievement Award Recipients

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Lausche, William "Doc"

A dentist by profession, Dr. William J. "Doc" Lausche was active for nearly sixty years in the music field. Dr. Lausche was a brilliant composer and arranger; played the piano proficiently; produced and directed recordings on national labels; taught and rehearsed some of the most famous Cleveland-Style Polka artists; coached singing groups; and was active outside of purely ethnic circles in Cleveland's cultural community.

An accomplished musician, "Doc" Lausche enthusiastically embraced a wide range of musical genres. While playing the piano within the Slovenian polka idiom, he often incorporated the influences of jazz, ragtime, Broadway, and classical music, thereby enriching and extending the musical horizons of those around him. Dr. Lausche founded the DENTAL ORCHESTRA OF CLEVELAND and personally organized the "March of Dimes" Spectacular in the 1930s.

Dr. Lausche was one of the first American-Slovenian recording artists, producing records beginning in 1919, and he appeared on the first Slovenian radio program on WJAY in1929. A pioneer in commercially recorded Slovenian music, "Doc" would travel to New York City where he hired and directed studio musicians, including accordion virtuoso Charles Magnante, to play his orchestral arrangements in the studios of the Victor Talking Machine Company, the Columbia Grammaphone Company, and Continental Records. During his career, Dr. Lausche recorded 68 selections and made countless transcriptions for radio.

Dedicated to the preservation of authentic Slovenian music and its distinctive melodic character, Dr. Lausche's adaptations of Slovenian folk songs as well as his many original compositions reflected his faith in the virtue of melody. "Doc" originated, arranged, or adapted more Slovenian Cleveland-Style music than any other individual, contributing heavily to the repertoires of Frank Yankovic, the Pecon/Trebar Orchestra, Kenny Bass, and Eddie Habat. His music remains a major source of material for Cleveland-Style Polka orchestras, singing groups, and Button-Box performers everywhere. His major Cleveland-Style hits include "Cleveland the Polka Town", "I've Got a Date with Molly", "Sondra", "The Girl I Left Behind", and "Bluebonnet Polka" (also known as "Doc's Polka").

"Doc" Lausche personally tutored Johnny Pecon, Lou Trebar, and other musicians, exerting a strong influence in the cultivation of greater sophistication and skill. In the opinion of many veteran Cleveland-Style musicians, Dr. Lausche achieved the highest level of musical quality and sophistication among Slovenian composers and arrangers, a standard which, to this day, remains unsurpassed.

"Doc" Lausche's high profile and educated, professional approach had a direct and positive impact on both the image and substance of Cleveland-Style music. It is easy to follow a path already paved. In providing a foundation for Cleveland-Style music, Dr. Lausche created that path.

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