Ed Svoboda Sr.

Ed was born and raised near Brown Park on a farm near Spooner, Wisconsin. Ed was one of 10 Children in his family.

His formal education ended after the third grade at Assumption School in Omaha. He went on to work for 35 years at Swift and Company until the plant closed. He then went on to work at Malnove Box and Specialty Co and finally Honeyman Rent-All. He spent many hours working as a furniture repairman and refinisher.

“Many Musicians, especially those outside the drug-hazed rock and jazz worlds, seem to live to ripe old ages. Perhaps it has something to do with that old saying about music feeding the soul. If true, then 94-yr old professional polka musician, Ed Svoboda, Sr. is living proof of music’s health benefits.”

Music and Dance News, January/February 2008 Edition

He started his musical interest with the mouth harp, went on the learn the accordion, and finally the drums. He purchased a top of the line piano accordion on credit for $300.00 at Hospe’s Music Store, paying it off a little at a time. He had started playing for pay in 1937 in South Omaha.

He went on to form his own band, The Red Raven Orchestra, in 1942. He led the band with his piano accordion, ’til a machine accident severely damaged his fingers. He didn’t quit playing, though, he continued on his drums. As a matter of fact, he continued on for the remainder of his 70 years as the band leader of The Red Raven Orchestra, ’til his passing in 2012.

During his reign as the head of Red Raven, the group entertained lived on the radio and in-person at many venues. The seven piece orchestra entertained audiences across Nebraska, Iowa, Kansas and South Dakota.  The Wilber Czech Festival was a yearly event for the group.

Several musicians have been members of the Red Raven Orchestra at one time or another during its long history, including his son, Sonny Svoboda.

Ed told the Horizons Newspaper during an interview that he always felt good when he saw people smiling and dancing. He knew they were enjoying themselves, and that it was a nice journey and met a lot of wonderful people.

Source: Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

Red Raven Orchestra