College Fight Songs: Hail to the Victors

I think I was a librarian before I knew what the word meant.

Bill Studwell has published two books of college fight songs with a third on the way. In addition to collecting and publishing, Bill is a critic and he ranks them. For this interview he focused on his number two selection the University of Michigan’s “Hail to the Victors.”

Studwell says that actually he was a librarian before he knew what it was. “I was always making lists, always organizing. Then when I learned what a librarian was, I knew it was for me. I graduated from college and went on to be a cataloguer at Northern Illinois University. And, I was good at it.”

Studwell said that he got into the study of college fight songs when he was looking for a fall sort of project for school’s news bureau. “They asked me to come up with list and give me just a couple of days to do it. My first lists were short ones, just thirteen. But even then I was ranking them with Notre Dame on top followed by Michigan and then Wisconsin.”

“Michigan’s ‘Hail to the Victors’ was written by a sophomore music major, Lewis Elbel in 1898. It was the first great college fight song. An interesting thing about it is that Elbel was actually from South Bend, the home of Notre Dame. And actually, he went back to South Bend to teach music. So Elbel grew up and lived near Notre Dame wile he had written the fight song for their rivals to the north.”

George Walker

After completing an M.A.T. degree in English at Indiana University, George Walker began announcing for WFIU in 1967. Along with regularly hosting classical music shows, he interviews artists and reviews plays and operas.

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