Toledo cop and renaissance man started orchestra that eventually became the Toledo Symphony

Toledo cop and renaissance man started orchestra that eventually became the Toledo Symphony

TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The Toledo Symphony Orchestra announced a new conductor and music director this week, but most Toledoans probably don't know that the seeds of the orchestra were sown by a man who grew up as a farmer and later became a Toledo Policeman.

Young farmer with a dream

Inspector Charles Roth who grew up in Defiance County in the early 1900s.

He was the son of a farmer, but the young man was not content with the idea of following in his father's footsteps to cultivate corn.

Roth wanted to cultivate and grow the music that was in his heart.

At a young age, Roth had already taken up the piano and trumpet and numerous other instruments.

He was a natural, and was passionate about playing the instruments well enough to hopefully be able to relocate to Toledo where he might play in the popular Toledo Police Band.

By 1917, Roth achieved his goal. He moved to the big city upstream on the Maumee where he joined the Toledo Police Department as a rookie on street patrol.

And when he wasn't pounding the beat, young Roth was keeping the beat, in the band.

New goals fulfilled

By 1923, however, Roth had new goals for his musical career, so he formed the Toledo Police Civic Symphony, recruiting musicians from all walks of life throughout the Toledo area who shared his appreciation for good music and the talent to play it.

Roth led this new orchestra as its conductor and musical director, while at the same time, continuing his career on the streets as a Toledo Police officer.

The Toledo Civic Symphony proved to be a hit with local citizens during the 1930s, appearing often in concert at numerous venues around the city.

Unsatisfied to merely be the conductor, Roth reached for new horizons as a writer and composer.

By 1937, he wrote the official Centennial March for Toledo's 100th birthday.

The orchestra debuted this original composition at the newly built Toledo Zoo Amphitheater.

It would not be his last composition. Over the course of his life, Roth wrote more than 70 symphonies and other pieces.

New symphony orchestra

By the early 1940's however, some community leaders desired a "professional" symphony and conductor for the city, so Lt. Roth stepped aside to allow for this to happen.

His orchestra would eventually become today's Toledo Symphony Orchestra that is now more than 70 years old.


It should be noted that Officer Roth had many other interests and found many other ways to create harmony in his life and the lives of others.

Roth was also considered an outstanding law enforcement officer in a number of areas.

Among them, his renowned skills as a marksman. Roth helped  in the building of Toledo's popular police shooting range at Bay View Park where he exhibited his skills as a champion marksman in numerous matches.

In 1927, Roth won the U.S. national revolver championship held at Camp Perry.

Roth was also one the developers of the Toledo Police Academy.

With a strong belief that police officers needed more training, discipline and professionalism, Roth helped guide the academy's growth for many years and literally wrote some of the earliest books and manuals that the rookies absorbed during their training.

And if that wasn't enough mastery for this "renaissance-cop", Roth had a love for horses and wrote several books about them.

In his spare time, Roth taught Sunday school for a Methodist church.

By the end of his career Major Charles Roth had helped the Toledo Police Department grow as a professional law enforcement organization over five decades.

When he left this life in 1967, he left behind not just a better police department, but a wonderful symphony orchestra that, to this day, can ascribe a part of its legacy to this most unique and dedicated Toledo Police officer.

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