Above: A collage of some of the great 1900 - 1910 music covers from the Tillinghasts.
The Tillinghast Collection
In the first decade of the 20th century America's music was still grounded in the Victorian "gay nineties" atmosphere. It was only near the end of this decade that we began to see changes in the harmonies, subject and openness of lyrics and music. 1900 was still technically a part of the 19th century and this song's music, lyrics and cover are reflective of the coy near innocence of the times. The cover photo is of the songwriter, Jessie Bartlett Davis, billed as "America's Representative Contralto." That is a rather strange tag line. One might expect something like "America's favorite" or "greatest" or "celebrated" but "representative" smacks of a certain commonality or averageness.
The song is certainly pleasant enough and melodically somewhat pleasant but not particularly memorable. The lyrics are quite romantic and poetic as were most of the song lyrics of the period. I think you'll find it pleasant but somewhat "representative." We've provided it in printable format for those of you who'd like to add it to your piano bench collection. You must obtain the Scorch plug in in order to view the sheet music, listen and print it.
Jessie Bartlett Davis unlike many woman performers and composers is well remembered and we have a good biographical sketch thanks to the 1893 book, A Woman of the Century Edited by Frances E. Willard and Mary A. Livermore. In that tract the authors say the following about her. "DAVIS, MRS. JESSIE BARTLETT, prima donna contralto, born near Morris, Grundy County, Ill., in 1860. Her maiden name was Jessie Fremont Bartlett. Her father was a farmer and a country schoolmaster. He possessed a remarkably good bass voice and had a knowledge of music. The family was a large one, and a sister about a year older, named Belle, as well as Jessie, gave early evidence of superior vocal gifts. Their father was very proud of their talents and instructed them as well as he could. Before they were twelve years of age they were noted as vocalists throughout their neighborhood. They appeared frequently in Morris and surrounding villages and cities in concert work, and they soon attracted the attention of traveling managers, one of whom succeeded in securing them for a tour of the western cities to sing in character duets. The older sister was of delicate constitution and died soon after the engagement was made.
Jessie Bartlett then went to Chicago in search of fame and fortune, and was engaged by Caroline Richings, with whom she traveled one season. She was ambitious to perfect herself in her profession, and she soon returned to Chicago and devoted herself to the study of music, and at the same time held a good position in a church choir. During the "Pinafore" craze Manager Haverly persuaded her to become a member of his original Chicago Church Choir Company, and she assumed the role of Buttercup. That was the beginning of her career as an opera singer. Since that time, through her perseverance and indefatigable efforts, aided by her attractive personality, she has steadily progressed in her art, until she is one of leading contralto singers of the United States.
Her histrionic powers are not in the least inferior to her vocal ability. She is one of the best actors among the singers now on the American stage. She made her debut in grand opera in New York City with Adelina Patti and the Mapleson Opera Company. Adelina PATTI sang Marguerite and Jessie Bartlett Davis sang Siebel. Other grand operas in which she won distinction are "The Huguenots," "Martha," "The Merry Wives of Windsor," "Il Trovatore," "Dinorah" and others. In comic opera she has probably a more complete repertoire than any other singer now before the public. For the last four years she has been the leading contralto of the Bostonians.
Jessie Bartlett became the wife of William J. Davis, a Chicago theatrical manager, in 1880. Her home is in Chicago, with summer residence in Crown Point, Ind. Mr. Davis owns an extensive stock farm at that place. Her home life is very pleasant, and she divides her time into eight months of singing and four months of enjoying life in her city home or on the farm in Indiana. She is the mother of one son, eight years of age. Besides her musical and histrionic talents, Mrs. DAVIS has decided literary gifts. She is the author of Only a Chorus Girl and other attractive stories and a number of poems. She has composed the music for several songs."
Hear this song "just because."( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Religious expression was another hallmark of much of the music in America during the transition to the new century. You may recall the fabulous The Choir Boy" from our first exposition of the Tillinghast collection. This work is quite expressive and tells the tale of a passer by who hears a choir singing a touching and popular hymn. The passer by is enthralled by the music and enters into the church to participate in the joyous singing and worship. Not many songs like that would be a mainstream hit today. The church on the cover photo is unidentified and if anyone out there recognizes it, let us know about it. Update, January 2. Within a day of posting this article we heard from Mr. Patrick Briddon of England who advised us that the church on the cover is Exeter Cathedral in Devon. Mr Briddon wrote; "By coincidence my brother-in-law, Mr Andrew Millington, is the current organist and director of music at Exeter Cathedral and happens to be staying with me this evening and he has no hesitation in identifying the 'church'. He is however definitely not the same organist playing the tune that inspired Mr Ellison ! ! ! ! " For those who want to know more about this beautiful edifice constructed from 1112 to 1520, visit the cathedral website at: http://www.exeter-cathedral.org.uk/ . Here is a current photo of the church from that site. Many thanks to Mr. Briddon for takinf the time to let us know this information.
The music is somewhat classical and formal in nature and is through composed (no repeats or repeated sections with differing lyrics). The opening melody is brisk but formal and a bit grandiose. The initial story is followed by an Andante Maestoso passage of only four measures that makes liberal use of triplets. That bridge is followed by a recapitulation of the initial melody however with more ornamentation, triplets played animato. We then return to the bridge melody captioned "the Palms" with praises to Hosanna and the Lord.
Ellison and Brennen seem to have slipped into obscurity. We have no other works by them and neither do the major other on-line libraries.
Of course "tear jerkers" were a staple cause celebre for American music during this period and though he did not write this work, Charles K. Harris published it. We know Harris as the "king of the tear jerker" and have featured many of his own works in our articles including our October, 2001 issue about tear jerkers and Harris' biography. We have another song included in this issue that outdoes almost all of the similar songs in its pathos and misery. The rather puritanical appearing lady on the cover is Ola Hayden for whom, as expected, I can find no biographical information. The large photo in the center of the cover portrays the story within. Although a touching and sad story is told, the story does have a happy ending. Be sure to check the lyrics (link below) or listen and watch the sheet music play using the Scorch plug-in.
The music within is less grounded in the 1800's than later in the 20th century. It is a forward looking song, simple and pleasant. The verse is a lilting melody in common (4/4) time and tells the initial story of an artist who has painted a beautiful portrait and of the girl whose mother has gone to heaven. The chorus is in waltz time and is more romantic and flowing than the verses. As with most songs, the more memorable memory is in the chorus.
Raymond Hubbell (b. 1879, Urbana, Ohio - d. 1954, Miami, FL.) Worked originally in Tin Pan Alley for Charles K. Harris as a pianist and arranger and in many respects wrote the music for many of Harris' songs. As a composer he wrote the music for a large number of successful Broadway musicals including Chow Chow (1902), Fantana (1905), A Knight For A Day (1907), Hip Hip Hooray (1915), The Bid Show (1916), Cheer Up (197), The Elusive Lady (1922), Yours Truly (1927) and Three Cheers in 1928 starring Will Rogers and Dorothy Stone. In total, he wrote music for over 30 Broadway productions including several editions of the Ziegfeld Follies. Perhaps his most enduring hit was Poor Butterfly written in 1916 for the production The Big Show.
Words and Music by: James Thornton
Cover artist: Dewy
Many songs of the period sang of travel and romantic trips. This song was about the common man's cruise as compared to the wealthy's trans Atlantic sailings and trips to exotic places. The song speaks of a cruise up the Hudson as being the pleasure of the "working class." It seems that class envy is not at all a new concept! On the cover is the composer's wife, Bonnie Thornton who sang the song "with great success." The song is dedicated to a Mr. & Mrs. Daniel O'Reilly of New York. I am assuming that the O'Reilly referred to was Daniel O'Reilly of Brooklyn, New York who was born in Limerick, Ireland, June 3, 1838, died September 23, 1911. He was a U.S. Representative from New York, 1879-81. I think the cover of this piece is unique and as with all the Tillinghast sheets, is in pristine condition, reflective of the care they gave their sheet music over the years.
The song is a waltz with a verse melody and tempo that almost has the sound of a children's song. The chorus is a more expansive melody and a bit more majestic in nature. It has that Viennese waltz flavor so popular at the time. It's a pleasant song and one that begs for a dance to accompany it.
James Thornton (1861 - 1938) Born in Liverpool, England, Thornton
came to America early in life where he made his first mark in entertainment
as a part of a Vaudeville team comprised of himself, his wife Bonnie (born
Lizzie Cox) and Charlie Lawlor. Thornton wrote the songs for the group
and Bonnie was the primary songstress who plugged his songs. Thornton
was an alcoholic who would squander their money so Bonnie always collected
his pay at the stage door before James could get his hands on it. Thornton's
most famous and lasting hit was When You Were Sweet Sixteen written
in 1898. Aside from writing words and music for a couple of stage productions,
Thornton's other songs of note were; My Sweetheart's The Man In The
Moon (1898), Maggie Mooney (1894), On The Benches In The
Park (1896), It Don't Seem Like The Same Old Smile (1896) and
There's A Little Star Shining For You in 1897.
Hear this original "Hudson" song (Scorch format)
As with most ethnically oriented songs of the period, the piece is full
of inaccuracies and stereotypes which today some may find offensive. The
music has the stereotypical "darkest Africa" sound to it. Unfortunately,
the style and meter reminds one more of a tango from South America. It
is musically very enjoyable but way off track as a representation of the
Congo. But, who cares, it was entertainment and the public did not seem
to know any better than the songwriters. The lyrics also contain the usual
inaccuracies in use of names and places. In particular, referring to a
"Kaffir chief" places the locale in Sri Lanka. However, the
term Kaffir was also used as an ethnic smear in Africa and Jamaica. Alternatively,
Kaffir was used as an obsolete blanket term for the majority of natives
of Southern Africa. The Congo is actually located in central Africa.
Rosamund (1873 - 1964) and J. W. (James Weldon) Johnson (1871 - 1938) were brothers from Jacksonville, Florida. In the vanguard of black popular song composers, the Johnson's enjoyed a rare success in the world of early 20th century Tin Pan Alley. They were teamed with Bob Cole in Vaudeville from 1901 to '06. They primarily worked together during their entertainment careers, separating only on James' was appointed U. S. Consul to Venezuela in 1906 and then on his death in 1938. Rosamond was educated at the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. Together the Johnson's wrote a number of popular and classical works. Among their works were; Walk Together Children (for orchestra and chorus, 1915), Florida Cakewalk (piano solo), De Chain Gang, Under the Bamboo Tree, Since You Went Away, and Lift Every Voice and Sing, often called the "Negro national Anthem." They also collaborated on two stage productions, The Shoo-fly Regiment (1906) and The Red Moon (1908).
Enjoy this great "jungle" song (Scorch plug-in required)
This second tear jerker of this issue is perhaps one of the most grim and shocking of the genre. It is a very, very unhappy tale with not a smidgen of hope nor happiness within. No happy endings can be found here. I mark this as one of my "discoveries" of the month not for its musical accomplishment but for being the most bleak "tear jerker" I've yet encountered. Published as a music supplement to the Chicago Sunday American on November 6, 1904, I suspect this song was not played often except perhaps when the pianist was in a fit of deep depression and wanted to express it. Think I am kidding? Just watch this one using the Scorch player and to alter a well worn phrase, listen and weep.
The song tells the story of an abandoned immigrant woman and her child suffering through hunger and cold in an unheated tenement in a large city. Suffering greatly as a result of the husband's death and with no income, the authorities come to take the child. You must see what happens next, it is a shocker! Musically the song is not particularly one to remember. It is a bit of a lightweight and simple song which was in many cases the hallmark of Sunday supplement music. Essentially the music was "dumbed down" to appeal to and be playable by the masses. The verse has a familiar ring to it and the chorus is simple as well.
I'm unable to find any information about Fred H. Finch, not even any other titles by him. Perhaps he made himself so depressed by the song that he could write no more.
Listen to this classic tear jerker ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Each time I see this title or write it, I have this almost uncontrollable urge to add "a" to the title, as in "Every Cloud Has (A) Silver Lining" which of course was another famous song and an English idiom of disputed or attributed to various origins. The title here is a result of language usage at the time and is a bit difficult to grasp given the more common proverb. Nonetheless, this work may be the first song using the sentiment. It certainly is unknown today. The music was written by a pair of fairly prolific but biographically obscure songwriters.
The music is perhaps one of t he best in this issue which is reflective of Engelmann's accomplishment. Many of his works have a classical flavor and include solid harmonies and melodies yet easily appeal to the popular song style. The verse melody I think is a bit better than the chorus but both are fine. The chorus seems less flowing and a little more stilted and forced. Of course the lyrics express the eternally optimistic meaning of the "silver lining" and are meant to cheer those who are a bit down (probably after listening to the prior work.)
Hans Engelmann wrote a number of works that were for children and several other works, one of which has remained in the popular repertoire for a century, his Melody of Love (MIDI) from 1903 which we featured way back in '98. In addition, we have several other works by him; Day Dreams (1901) , Rosebud Schottische (1898), Dolly Varden, a Sunday newspaper supplement from 1903, an arrangement of Gounod's Flower Song from 1902 and Rose of Normandy (1906). In addition, we are aware of at least one march he wrote that is in the current marching band repertoire; Philadelphia Record (1902). In spite of what is clearly a large catalog of works (The Little Hostess (Scorch) is marked as Op. 556), I can find little to no other information about him which really is quite puzzling.
Listen to this great old song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Love and romance were always subjects for song, and of course they still are. However, the love and romance of 1906 was very different in its expression 100 years ago. Indirectness and innuendo were always present in the place of today's directness. The questions asked were of the same subjects but asked in oh so different ways. This song title is a case in point. Today the question would simply be, would you miss me? Then, a rather oblique and formal "would you care" etc. was in order. The photo on the cover depicts a tender and quite serious moment where the anxious young man is clearly asking his lady love the title question.
The music to this song is one of the better ones this month. With great harmony and melody the song asks the questions all lovers ask to seek reassurance that all is well and that they are loved. The chorus is very nice with arpeggios punctuating each phrase as the questions are asked. Ah, love springs eternal. The cover captions this as "A Beautiful Home Song" and indeed it is.
W. R. Williams I've found no biographical information on Williams which is a bit of a puzzle for he was lyricist for quite a few popular songs of the period. He collaborated with some of the best composers such as Walter Blaufuss and George Cobb as lyricist but most of his work was done with Will Rossiter (the publisher) as composer. Would You Care If We Were Parted is the only work I've found where he also wrote the music. Among his other credits are: Ev'ry Day (1918), Oh! You Georgia Rose (1912), Pretty Little Maid of Cherokee (1909), You're All I Had (1913), I'd Love To Live In Loveland With A Girl Like You (1910) and Don't You Remember The Time? (1919).
Listen to this popular old love song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
The lovely Maude Lambert graces the cover of this song from '07. Unlike many of the entertainers whose photos appeared on sheet music, lambert seems positively delighted. If you'll note, most of the photos are rather serious or even sad, but not Maude. Lambert was a superstar on early Broadway having appeared in at least 13 Broadway shows from 1899 to 1915. She enjoyed a renaissance in the late 30's and 40's as a motion picture actress appearing in several films including A Canterbury Tale (1944) and Emergency Landing (1941).
The song is reflective of Maude's smile. It's a happy jaunty tune that reflects happy thoughts and good times. It is a song about sharing the good times and bad with someone who loves you and cares for you. The melody is pleasant and the chorus is reminiscent of the times in which it was written.
Will R. Anderson This particular Anderson is difficult to pin down. There was a songwriter William Robert or W. R. Anderson who flourished at the same time and who also was published by Whitmark. I suspect this is the same guy. Born in 1891, we know little else about him other than a scant few songs. Besides Just Some One, Anderson wrote; Good Night Dear (1908), Bring Me A Letter From My Old Home Town (1918), Take It From Me (1918) and Evening, My Love and You (1923).
Listen to this grand old tune (Scorch plug-in required)
Though novelty songs were around well before this period, they came into their own in the first two decades of the new century. While earlier we were dwelling on the romantic and blissful side of relationships, with this song we take a turn for the more lively and less enjoyable side of marriage. As they used to say "boys will be boys" and this song demonstrates that old saw quite well. The cover art of the sheet is very interesting and captures attention. May Vokes is pictured on the cover. Vokes was another of the early Broadway stars who also was a film star. Her Broadway career extended from 1903 to 1935 and she starred in at least two films; Janice Meredith in 1924 and Get That Venus in 1933. Vokes died in 1957 at the age of 75. Her death was noted in the Stamford Advocate and her obituary can be seen at http://www.stamfordhistory.org/mvokes_obit.htm
The song is a tale of a man who deceives his wife and family to gain himself a night on the town. Sending them off on a cruise he gathers his friends and has a long night of wine women and song. He and his friends have a very big night together but when he returns home to find his wife waiting, he knows that the biggest part of the night is yet to come. The music is very upbeat and as you would expect from Van Alstyne, a magical musical experience. This is my "happy" discovery of the month. You're going to love it.
Egbert Van Alstyne (b. Chicago, Ill 1882 - d. Chicago, 1951) A musical prodigy, he played the organ at the Methodist Church in Marengo, Illinois when only seven! Schooled in the public school system in Chicago and at Cornell College in Iowa, he won a scholarship to the Chicago Musical College. After graduation, he toured as a pianist and director of stage shows and performed in vaudeville. In 1902 he went to New York and worked as a staff pianist for a publisher in Tin Pan Alley and began to devote himself to writing songs teamed with Harry Williams as his lyricist. The teams first success came in 1903 with Navajo, one of the earliest commercial songs to exploit Indian themes. They wrote two more "Indian Songs"; Cheyenne in 1906 and San Antonio in 1907. In 1905 they produced one of the greatest songs of that early decade, In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree which sold several million copies. For several years, the team cranked out hit after hit and music for two Broadway musicals, A Broken Doll in 1909 and Girlies in 1910.
Harry Williams (b. 1879, Minn. - d. 1922, Calif.) Williams is considered an important early Tin Pan Alley lyricist who collaborated with several of the greatest composers of the time including Niel Moret, Jean Schwartz and most frequently with Egbert Van Alstyne. He also collaborated on several Broadway scores including A Yankee Circus On Mars (1905), Girlies (1910) and A Broken Idol (1909). He began his musical industry career in vaudeville with Van Alstyne and then they began writing songs together. Williams formed his own publishing company and also became a director of silent movies in 1914. Among his most important and lasting hits are; In The Shade Of The Old Apple Tree, Goodnight Ladies, It's A Long Way To Tipperary and Mickey.(Scorch format) (Essential facts from Kinkle, V. 3, p. 1960)
Listen and see this fun novelty song (Scorch plug-in required)
With this work we have another novelty song where someone gets caught in a rather compromising situation but this time it's the girl and her sister turns out to be the snitch. I suspect that anyone who had a younger sibling can relate to this work. How many times has the younger sibling "got the goods" on the elder when it comes to boyfriend-girlfriend activities that are off limits then used that to blackmail the elder? Since time began I'm sure this has been going on and the songwriting team of McKeon, Piano and Walker have immortalized it in song for us. It is interesting to note that the cover seems to depict a young boy confronting the older sister but the lyrics attribute the activity to a sister. It looks like the publisher, songwriter and artist failed to coordinate their stories.
Though a novelty song, it has more the flavor of a ballad, both in the verses and chorus. In waltz time the song has a very nice melody and flow. The harmonies and accompaniment are excellent and this song rates as one of the best this month. You'll also notice that the style and musical make up of the song is very different from the songs earlier in this decade. We are approaching a period when song styles move from the romantic, somewhat formal styles of the past to a more energetic, even jazzy sound. In only ten years we'll have the shock of a World War and the emergence of the jazz age and even now, our music begins to evolve.
Listen to this "snitch" song (Scorch plug-in)
We've now reached the end of the first decade of the 20th century and have already seen some evolution in music. However, as with most changes in art and society, we find vestiges of the past and a holding on to earlier ideas. Compared to the previous song, this one steps back some into the earlier years of the decade and even a bit into the prior century. The cover by Buck is more forward looking with a touch of the coming art deco movement.
The music is another waltz, also very ballad like and quite pleasant. It's a bit on the dreamy side which reminds me of a reverie. The lyrics are quite romantic and also seem to fit the reverie mold. It's a wistful song that is a fitting and pleasant end to this month's feature.
The Garton's are elusive guys for I've only found one other song by Will (The Blacksmith Rag from 1920) and none for Cedric. There was another songwriter of note with the same last name, Ted Garton but it's unknown to me whether or not there is any connection.
Listen to this wonderful old song( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
This article published January, 2007 and is Copyright © 2007 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission of the author or an officer of the corporation. Though the songs published on this site are often in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright as recorded performances.
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