Leland Forsblad

Leland Forsblad is a composer, performer, and music educator born and raised near Fresno, California. He served as a combat pilot in World War II, and was a POW for two years, (He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft 3. He was known as POW 1743, and would spend 22 months as a POW before allied forces liberated the camps.) writing music for the Stalag band, chorus, and orchestra. Upon his return to the states, he began his graduate work in composition at the University of Southern California while working in radio and motion pictures as an instrumentalist and composer. Mr. Forsblad taught choral music in the Fresno schools for nearly 30 years and has hundreds of published works for chorus, band, and orchestra. He is presently retired and writing music for the educational field.

“The ranking American Colonel told me that I would not be one of the personnel to attempt an escape due to the fact I was a professional musician and was part of the ‘moral boosters’ for the camp. I played in a band, and one of the instruments I played was an accordion. On one occasion, I was thrown in ‘the cooler’ for a few days by the camp commandant after I played the American national anthem in the compound. The Germans had pretty good radio stations that gave out information on the status of the war. We heard one day on the radio that there was fighting near the west side of the Rhine River. A few days later we heard there was heavy fighting along the west side of the Rhine. The next day we heard there was heavy fighting on the east side of the Rhine. This told us the allies were getting closer. We also had our own radio, which we used to listen to the BBC. The Germans knew we had a radio, but they could never find it. We hid the radio in my accordion. We were forced to leave the camp and marched west 280 miles out of Poland due to the Russians getting close to Stalag Luft 3. We took the radio apart and gave pieces of the radio to different people to hide and carry. Once we arrived at our new camp, we reassembled the radio back in the accordion. The Germans never found it.”

Leland E. Forsblad of Fresno (1920) played accordion and other musical instruments, and that talent served him well as a prisoner of war of the Germans during World War II.
Mr. Forsblad, a composer, player and music teacher with Fresno Unified School District, died 2004, Aug. 4th of pneumonia. He was 85.
He was born in Kingsburg and played accordion as a youth, followed by clarinet, saxophone, most other woodwinds and piano. He was an early performer and winner on the old Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour radio show.

Notes from captivity  May 29, 2006
"We spent most of the day writing music," says Forsblad, who arranged music for the Luftbandsters in the style of Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Artie Shaw and other popular bandleaders. He wrote his own sheet music, copying down familiar tunes other prisoners sang or whistled. (Fresno Bee -- Lifestyle)


The Works of Leland Forsblad


Merrimac March (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD29)
Wondrous Love
Songs from the Mother Country (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD25)
From Shepherd to King
British Pageantry (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD30)
Liturgia (TRN Music Publisher, TU.FSLIT1)
Canberra Settings (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD20)
Fantasia on the Doxology (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD20)
Canto Forma (TRN Music Publisher, TU.TRNCD7)

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