Above: A collage of some of the great pre 1900 music covers from the Tillinghasts.
The Tillinghast Collection
The cover of this sheet (and the music) is typical of this period in American music history. It is from what we termed the "Dead Zone" of American music that occurred from about 1870 to 1890. At that time we said; "Whereas Stephen Foster and others had begun to develop a purely American style of music based to a degree on African influences, after the death of Foster and the American Civil War, the direction Foster set seemed to stop dead in its tracks. Thus began a dreadful period where it seemed American music reverted to an older and less colorful style. This period seemed to last from twenty to thirty years at which point, amazingly the path was picked up almost where it was left off." The music of that period was more like the classical music of Europe and in fact, much formal music entered the parlor by European composers and this piece is an example. As with many of the covers from this period, the lithograph image seems to have no real connection to the title or a march. Many of the covers were seemingly separate works of art in their own right.
A march, this work is in stark contrast to the bombastic marches we see in America's popular music after about 1895. For examples of the more "American" marches see our feature published in 1999 and our features on the music of E. T. Paull. Whereas those marches have a strong military element to them that shouts "MARCH!," this piece is almost delicate and dance like in character. It is a more reserved and gentlemanly work that whispers "march," shhhh. The opening introduction seems to preview a strongly military march but immediately after we are given a softer melody and phrasing that still echoes a march but has more finesse to it. The composer clearly had such a feel in mind for the work since he included "march sentimentale" as a subtitle descriptor. The softer theme uses triplets and some arpeggios. A stronger march enters again and the first theme is repeated. Then we find another delicate melody. Throughout, the composer uses this juxtaposition of firm march motifs and softer melodic passages. Though we say this piece belongs in the "dead zone" period, this piece of music is far from dead and is really a very nice work with some lively passages that add interest.
Julius S. Müller is most likely a European, German composer of the family Müller of Hanover who spawned several well known composers during this time period however I cannot pinpoint him as for sure a part of that family. As we commented in the Dead Zone article, since American music was in decline, a large number of works from Europe were imported and republished by American publishers.
Hear this 1873 march. ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)
Here is another work with artwork that seems unrelated to the title but it is a fabulous etching. Oddly enough, the artwork is credited as "Photo by Marc Gambier." A photo must have been the basis for the art but it is clearly not a photograph but an etching or lithograph on the cover. Regardless of the connection to the music, I think this is one of the most interesting covers from the period. Though still in the dead zone, we do have a work again for solo piano but composed by an American composer, Thomas Blake who is named as the musical director of Wallack's theater in NY, one of the oldest theaters in NY, founded in 1852.
This work is a waltz, in the classic style, with more than one theme. The waltz and later, waltz songs were very popular in the parlor around the world and were used not only for listening and for dancing. For more about the waltz in America see our September, 2005 issue. This piece though is very, very unique and when you listen (and see it using the Sibelius Scorch plug-in) you'll see why. Perhaps because of his theater musical background, Thomas treats us to a waltz that is not only scored for piano but for solo cornet. Of course, in those days many members of the family played instruments and the cornet was popular at the time. A work like this allows more participation and the opportunity for two members of the family to display their talents. After a brief introduction, we are given the cornet playing the melody while the piano adds accompaniment. As the piece progresses we find an interesting exchange between piano and cornet in the following themes. As with all waltzes, we ultimately return to the first theme for the fine. This work is my discovery of the month for it's melody and creativity. I've voiced the piece for piano and cornet to provide a listening experience that is as close as possible to the composer's intentions.
Though Thomas Baker, held the prestigious position as musical director at Wallack's, a , I've been unable to locate any details of his life and other possible compositions.
Enjoy this interesting old piano waltz ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)
There are so many good pieces to share with you this month that it is hard for me to stick to only one work as the discovery of the month. I have to say that for me, they all are wonderful discoveries. The cover of this work is unusual for the period but shows that we are moving from the dead zone to the era of flowering and the blossoming (pun intended) of purely American music with colorful and attractive art work. Soon, with Charles K. Harris in the vanguard, sheet music covers would explode into a fabulous period of pop art that lasted for decades. The most interesting feature of this cover, aside from the excellent colors is the central "grey" background to the pansies. That background is actually a silver foiled effect that seems like foil but may be a heavy silvered ink. It is very interesting and forward looking.
The music within is as wonderful as the cover. Though the last work was a pure waltz this is a waltz song. It is very much in the old style of music and includes, as was often the case, a chorus for S.A.T.B. (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) voices. To that end, I've used MIDI choir sounds to simulate the choral nature. I usually avoid such voicing and stay with the piano sound as it is generally more consistent across the range of sound cards. Sometimes the vocal synthesis comes across quite "cheesy." If that is the case for your experience, I apologize as the music is much too good to be sullied. After a typical waltz introduction, we meet the main melody and it is a very catchy and singable tune! A short transitional melody takes us straight to the SATB chorus and it is absolutely stunning. The sopranos and altos carry the melody and words while the male voices are relegated to a really pleasant background harmony of "Las" and Ums." Then we encounter an accelerando passage that leads to another set of solo melodies and words then one passage marked lento where we learn the sad fate of the lover. With a flourish though we return to the beginning of the chorus and to the fine. I could (and have) listen to this over and over. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Frank Howard as I fear will be the case with almost all of this month's composers, is elusive. I've found no biographical facts to share with you but he is credited with quite a few works from as early as 1848 through 1889. The majority of his works seem to have been published in the 1860's. Among his published songs are; Little Bare-foot (undated, 19th century), Uncle Tom's Glimpse of Glory (1852), Golden Leaves of Autumn (1868), Who Says The Darkies Won't Fight? (1862), Profit and Loss (1866) and When The Robins Nest Again (1883).
Music by: Effie I. Canning
Words by: Canning
Cover artist: unknown
A more period cover greets us in this piece from the same year as "Pansy." A terrific lithographed "home scene" adorns this song's cover. First published in 1881, this edition was as a part of a series of "old homestead" songs that included; Old Red Cradle, Irene Lorraine and When Mother Puts the Little Ones to Bed. Also since this lullaby was so popular, the series included a Rock-A-Bye Baby Waltz, Galop, Schottische, Transcription and male quartet. The fellow on the cover is Denman Thompson who seems to have no direct connection to any of the songs or the publisher, Charles D, Blake & Co. of Boston. However, Thompson, an early Broadway producer, did produce a show titled The Old Homestead from which I assume this title and some of the songs are taken. A biography of Thompson found on an old cigar trading card reads;
"Born October 15, 1833, in Beechwood, Pa. For a year in his boyhood he was an acrobat in a circus. His professional career began in a stock company in Worcester, Mass. In 1871 he appeared in a vaudeville sketch called "Joshua Whitcomb," which was elaborated into a play and finally became "The Old Homestead," starring in it almost continuously ever since. Is also the author of "The Sunshine of Paradise Alley," which was produced in 1896."
This song is one of the most well known in the annals of lullabies, perhaps worldwide. I suspect almost every baby born in America since 1881 has heard this lullaby at least once in their infancy. It may be the most ubiquitous and most recognized song of all times. What may be a revelation to most of us is that the familiar "Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top" is preceded by a verse (there are actually three verses plus the lullaby) that is probably as equally unknown as the lullaby is known. Perhaps even more startling is that after the famed and most stated lullaby, there is even more to the song. I think that this will be a very pleasant surprise for every one of you.
Crockett (pseudonym Effie Canning) (1857 - 1940) About all
that any reference on the net has to say about Canning-Crockett is that;
"she was an American actress and baby-sitter. She wrote and composed
the song "Rock-a-Bye Baby" in 1872." I was about to name
her as a one hit wonder but did manage to find a few other songs she wrote
that were published by Chas. Blake in Boston. Blake published a folio
of her works in 1887 that included; Safely Rocked in Mother's Arms,
Don't Tread on the Daisies and Tapping on the Panes.
Hear this original famous lullaby (Scorch format)
The music within does live up to the cover though. It is really a very pleasant song with a terrific chorus and great lyrics. It is so suggestive of the gay 90's in its harmony, tempo and melodies that it takes me back to those times in my mind.
Julia Marion Manley as with many of the woman composers of that era is nearly lost to us as far as any meaningful information about her life. I did manage to find one other work by her published as a newspaper supplement to the Chicago American on March 31, 1901. That song was I Guess You'd Better Hush, Hush, Hush. Interestingly, some 19 years after "She's Mine", the same performer, Norma Whalley is on the cover.
Enjoy this great 1890 song (Scorch plug-in required)
Harry J. Turner, another popular performer of the era graces the otherwise plain cover of this song. Unfortunately, Turner is seemingly lost to the ravages of time. The publisher for this work is exemplar of the growth of the music publishing industry during the Tin Pan Alley days. Though New York was the center of the industry (that's where Tin Pan Alley really was) publishing houses cropped up all over the country, particularly in the east where the majority of the population was. Boston and its environs was a particularly important publishing venue. Few of those publishers exist today. Many were started on a single hit song and failed to flourish beyond that. Others managed to take hold and do well for many years, picking up songs from many composers in the area and earning a good stream of revenue. Over time though, the New York publishers predominated and few of the publishers such as Edward A. Bowen survived.
When I first saw this work, I assumed that it might be a novelty or comedic song that would tell of how things often fall apart "after the wedding." In fact, Mrs. Tillinghast thought the same when we were discussing the sheets to use for this feature (surely you did not expect her to remember all 50,000 of the songs in her collection?) However, I failed to reckon with the time period the song was written. This period was one where a great deal of romanticism was in play. Music, art and literature were all reflective of a general prevailing love of romance and beauty. As well, these were also hard times as a great deal of sickness, epidemics and wars had wrought tragedy upon tragedy to countless Americans. The prior years had seen civil and labor tumult and immigrants influx that taxed the infrastructure and job market. Two years before was a financial panic that sent America into a depression that would last till 1897. In 1894 the country was wracked by worker revolts and massive unemployment. Then, the government introduced an income tax as if everything else was not enough! These were not the happiest of times despite the "gay 90's" moniker that we've accepted for decades. The result is that widespread comedy and novelty in song was rare and did not really emerge until later.
All that to say that we were wrong. This is a very romantic and loving song about a man so deeply in love that could not wait till after the wedding when "we shall be happy ever, Happy through life as man and wife, After the wedding is over." The music is very typical of the period and is romantic and a little embellished in its tone. The verse is in common (4/4) time and flows nicely to the chorus which changes to a waltz. Stately and tender the chorus is a very nice love ballad. Enjoy this man's happiness for the future and I hope that your partnership is one as wonderful as he expects his will be.
I'm unable to find any information about H. Wendell Tennant, not even any other titles by him. Twenty years or so later a Gilbert Tennant wrote a number of popular songs and it's possible he is H. W.'s son.
Listen to this classic "Wedding" song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
The cover on this work is by a virtually unknown sheet music cover artist but is one of the best I've seen from the period. This cover and title convey those very romantic ideals I mentioned above. The art and title would lead us to believe this too is a love song about someone's ideal. Indeed it is but as you'll see, the rare humor we expected in the prior song emerges in this one quite unexpectedly.
The verse(s) are given a sweet, lilting tune in waltz time and the text speaks of all the attributes of the girl of a man's dream. One who is the perfect woman. The chorus, also in waltz time breaks our bubble and shatters our dream in a moment telling us that there is no such thing. As we progress through the verses we find that women are duplicitous, manipulative and will rob you blind. The moral of this song is to stick to the girl in your dreams and avoid the "real" ones because no woman will ever measure up to the one of your dreams. Some of you will probably not find the song very humorous however it is cute and sort of sneaks up on you. The music is pleasant but not particularly memorable.
Richard Stahl seemed to have flourished from about 1881 to 1900 or so for that is the only period from which I can find works he published. None of his biographical information seems available through our library and the nest. Here are a few of the woks he published; President James A. Garfield's Grand Inauguration March (1881), Lillian Russell Waltz (1883), I've Spent My Last Dime (1883), The Pretty Girl Across the Street (1893), My First and Only Love. Song (1896) and Mary Jane Marie (1897).
Listen to this great old love song with a twist( Scorch plug-in version)
The period of the 90's was one where "tear jerkers" were plentiful. Many of the songs of this time dealt with death and loss and some composers such as Gussie L. Davis (The Baggage Car Ahead, The Fatal Wedding), Charles K. Harris (After The Ball, Hello Central, Give Me Heaven) and Harry Von Tilzer (A Bird In A Gilded Cage, The Mansion of Aching Hearts) and others made a fine living writing nothing but terribly tragic songs. If you'd like to see and hear the songs mentioned and many more, read our feature article on "tear jerkers" from October, 2001. This song is another of my "discoveries" this month, it is absolutely fabulous and a tear jerker supreme. The cover of this work features a photo of a choir boy and is captioned; "Interpreted by Little Joe O'Hare, 'The Choir Boy'." In the photo, Joe looks to heaven with an angelic countenance. Interestingly, on his surplice Joe sports two pins; one a Crucifix and the other a Star of David. Possiblyy, the publisher did not want to offend or ignore the Jewish trade and this may well be the first printed example of politically correct sheet music.
The music is sublime. This one is another where I have departed from the scored piano to present it as played on a church pipe organ. The organ adds a depth of feeling and majesty that the song deserves. The song is about a young choir boy with an angelic voice who passes away and rises to the angels. It is a tear jerker of major proportion and the music is clearly most hymn-like. In fact, the music is marked andante religioso so I've tried to present it in that manner. I think the music and words speak for themselves and know that you will enjoy the music, whether Christian, Jewish or agnostic. It is quite stirring.
Paul B. Armstrong & Clara Scott are yet another duo who've been lost to us except for a very few of their works. I suspect this piece was their crowning achievement. Armstrong wrote seems to have been mostly a lyricist as with thirteen other titles credited to him all were as lyricist. This could be his only musical composition. Just as interesting is that the only other work I've found by a Clara Scott, Open My Eyes That I May See was composed by her with Louis O'Connell as lyricist. For some unknown reason, both seemed to reverse their usual roles for this work.
Listen to this popular old "church" tearjerker (Scorch plug-in required)
In keeping with the sad and melancholy mood we seem to be in, yet another work that depicts some of the tragedy of the times is this touching title and cover from 1896. In the 1890's Typhoid fever was a clear and present danger to life and many a family suffered the loss of loved ones. The specter of typhoid would remain in America for many years to come culminating in the famous Typhoid Mary incidents in 1907. Typhoid left many parents childless and many children as orphans. It is no doubt that the tragedy of disease and the plight of orphans inspired Zeiler to write this piano solo piano meditation. One wonders if it was due to someone in his own family's tragedy or just the general pain of mankind's loss.
I'd describe this piece as a reverie or meditation. Though on a very sad subject, it is marginally sad in tone. Musically it is very melodic and pleasant in opposition to the theme. The Legato introduction is an interestingly familiar tune, very similar to Carrie Jacobs-Bond's 1901 work, I Love You Truly (MIDI). I could not help wonder if the passage inspired Bond or it is simply coincidence. Then, to my surprise, the second motif, reminds me of the famous Italian folk song, Santa Lucia! We'd have to imagine that Zeiler may have been inspired by Santa Lucia, first transcribed in print in 1849 as a barcarole. The piece then moves into a basso variation of the theme and returns to the main theme. A somewhat darker transition theme then takes us to a final recapitulation of the Santa Lucia theme. It is a fairly short piece, but very dreamy and pleasant. I wonder what images and words Zeiler had in mind when he wrote it?
Henry Zeiler enjoyed an apparent brief career as a published composer in that only a few of his works seem to have made it to today's libraries. In 1903 he published My Lady Love Waltzes, in 1904 he wrote a set of variations on Nearer My God To Thee and then in 1908 he wrote and published Flight of the Air Ship. All of his works are for piano solo.
Listen to this grand old tune ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)
With this song we find ourselves firmly in the territory of American popular music rather than the classical or dead zone mode. Here we have a song infused with happy melodies and good humor, the sort of music that everyone wanted to sing and take home to the parlor. We also are well into the period of eye catching and colorful cover art and few songs from this time on would have plain black & white covers such as many of the ones we've seen so far. The cover offers almost as much reading material as a cereal box. In the ornate box on the left we discover that the song, "A charming ballad of sentiment," was introduced by the "Famous American Contralto Imogene Comer." Reading on, we find that the song has been, "Also sung with success by every well known vocalist and quartette before the public." If that were not adequate, the photo on the right tells us that the song was "A first night hit with America's descriptive singers Howard and Emerson" (Joseph E. Howard and Ida Emerson.) This was the period when the ideas of marketing songs really began to flourish and the publishers of this one left no stone unturned, or so it seems.
The verse to this song is a light and pleasant melody with minimal accompaniment, played the chorus is a bit like the verse in sound and melody, in fact, if you listen without watching the score it can be a little difficult to tell where the verse leaves off and the chorus begins, a bit of a departure from convention.
Stanley Carter and Henry Braisted are another pair of "lost" songwriters. Both are credited with a few other songs written together; The Girl I Loved In Sunny Tennessee published in 1899, You're Not The Only Pebble On The Beach (18??), Whisper Your Mother's Name (18??), At The Cost of a Woman's Heart (18??), The Sporty Widow Brown (18??) and The Maiden Didn't Know A Single Thing in 1895.
Listen to this sweet old Kentucky love song (Scorch plug-in required)
As we approach the turn of the century, we find the fully involved cover art we are accustomed to from the early Tin Pan Alley years. Colorful, whimsical, artistic and ornate. We've said this in other articles but it bears repeating here; though we know that you can't tell a book by it's cover, in the case of sheet music, you can sell a sheet by its cover. In fact, in today's market for collectible sheet music, it is almost always the cover that is important with the music becoming almost incidental. The cover features a very small banner along the top border that includes a small photo of a minstrel duo, Williams and Walker. The full banner reads; "Williams & Walker's Latest Laughing Success! Introduced in their new Play 'The Policy Shop'."
The song is a bit of a novelty song with a cute set of lyrics. The music is pleasant if not a bit simple. In waltz time, the melodies are plain but nice and the accompaniment is fairly minimal.
J. A. Shipp may have been a "one hit wonder" for I can find no other songs by him nor can I find any information about his life and career. That has seemed to be the case with almost all of the composers featured this month.
Listen to this rare "moon" song (Scorch plug-in)
1897 (this edition 1901)
We end this month's feature with a song that straddled the 19th and twentieth centuries. First published in 1897, the song instantly became a standard for use at funerals and memorial services. The song, as with many popular hymns gave those who had lost a loved one, hope and comfort in their loss. This edition was published in 1901 after the death of President William McKinley at the hand of an assassin in Buffalo, New York at the Pan American Exposition. Mc Kinley's funeral took place at Canton, Ohio, on the 19th of September, 1901. There is a a memorial tomb in Canton but his birthplace and library are in nearby Niles, Ohio. It is said that Beautiful Isle of Somewhere was McKinley's favorite song/hymn and undoubtedly that is why it was performed at his funeral. Since that time it has played a continuing role as a funereal piece.
This edition features a photo of McKinley and the "Euterpean Quartette"
(Of or pertaining to Euterpe or to music) from, I believe, Cincinnati.
If anyone can provide more details about them please let us know. The
banner at the top of the music proclaims; "As sung at the funeral
of our martyred President William McKinley by the Euterpean Quartette."
The sheet music includes three arrangements of the song; soprano solo,
quartette for men and a quartette for women's voices. In our presentation
here we've included the soprano solo version and the woman's quartet since
that and the solo were the versions presumably sung at the funeral. It
is a beautiful song with a beautiful sentiment and though the quartet
for women is nice, the soprano solo version seems much more musical.
John. S. Fearis (b. 1867 - d. 1932) Fearis was a publisher as well as composer, having his own publishing house in Chicago, J. S. Fearis & Bros. It seems that much of his work was focused on children's or teaching works for that is mainly what seems to have survived to today. His most famous works are Beautiful Isle of Somewhere (1897) and Little Sir Echo (18??). Among his other works are; Girl With The Curl (1914), a series of six pieces titled The Flower Garden (1905), Bachelor Sale (1911) and Six Little Playmates (1906). Fearis also wrote one operetta, The Treasure Hunters.
Jessie Brown Pounds.(1861 - 1921) was primarily a hymnist and wrote a number of popular hymns. Besides Beautiful Isle of Somewhere (1897) she wrote; O Scatter The Seeds, Preach Through The Cross and We Are Going Down The Valley.
Listen to this wonderful old "funeral" song( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
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