Above: 1890's covers from the Erdmann Collection.
Music of the 1890's
From the Erdmann Collection
Isaac Edward Emerson was born in Chatham County, N. C., in 1859. His family moved to Chapel Hill in 1868. Emerson was graduated from the University of North Carolina as a chemist in 1879. He worked out and patented the formula for Bromo-Seltzer, a headache remedy, upon which Emerson's immense wealth was based. Emerson organized the Emerson Drug Company; built the Emerson Hotel; was president of the Citro Chemical Works of America, Maywood N.J. The Emerson Drug Company is best known for the drug Bromo-Seltzer an antacid used to relieve pain occurring together with heartburn, upset stomach, or acid indigestion. Bromo-Seltzer is sold in the United States in the form of effervescent granules which must be mixed with water before ingestion. During the late 19th century and into the early 20th, Emerson drug produced reprints of famous songs and piano works with heavy advertising copy on the covers and backs. These were used as a promotional item and in this case, Roebling Pharmacy in Baltimore used them as a complimentary item for customers. For another example of a "Bromo Seltzer" song see Dream Faces in our August 2000 feature.
This song, The Palms is his most famous and lasting work. It is a staple of the liturgical services for Palm Sunday in virtually every church in Christendom. Although originally composed as a solo, it is most often sung as an anthem that is well-suited to Protestant and Catholic church choirs of all abilities, and it remains a staple (albeit dated) of choral literature. It is a stirring, inspirational and beautiful song. To hear a beautifully restored 1913 version sung by Enrico Caruso visit this Community Audio pag.at archive.com. Because this song is so associated with church music, I've instrumented the Scorch and midi presentations for Church Organ.
Jean-Baptiste Faure (1830 – 1914)was a celebrated French operatic baritone and an art collector of great significance. He also composed a number of classical songs. Faure was born in Moulins. A choirboy in his youth, he entered the Paris Conservatory in 1851 and made his operatic debut the following year at the Opéra-Comique, as Pygmalion in Victor Massé's Galathée. He remained at the Opéra-Comique for over seven years, creating the Marquis d'Erigny in Auber's Manon Lescaut (1856) and Hoël in Meyerbeer's Le pardon de Ploërmel (1859; later known as Dinorah), among seven premieres at that house.
He debuted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London, in 1860 as Hoël, and at the Paris Opera in 1861. He would sing at the Opera every season until 1869 and then again in 1872-76 and 1878. In addition, he continued to perform off and on in London until 1877 at venues such as Her Majesty's Theatre and the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.
Among the many operas in which he appeared in Paris were Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Don Giovanni as well as L'étoile du nord, Les Huguenots and La favorite.
He also made history by creating several important operatic roles written by such prominent composers as Giacomo Meyerbeer, Giuseppe Verdi and Ambroise Thomas. They included the leading baritone parts in L'Africaine, Don Carlos and Hamlet (in 1865, 1867 and 1868 respectively).
His last stage appearances are recorded as taking place in Marseilles and Vichy in 1886.
Faure possessed a dark, smooth yet flexible baritone voice which he used with impeccable skill. He was a sophisticated interpretive artist, too, and all these accomplishments combined to make him one of the most significant figures to have appeared on the French musical stage during the 19th century. He wrote two books on singing, La Voix et le Chant (1886) and Aux Jeunes Chanteurs (1898), and also taught at the Paris Conservatory from 1857 to 1860.
In addition, Faure composed several enduring songs, besides Les Rameaux (The Palms) including a Sancta Maria, and Crucifix. Faure died of natural causes in Paris in 1914, during the early months of World War I. (Biography from Wikipedia)
Hear this lovely liturgical song (Scorch format, be patient, all the Scorch files this month are very large file sizes, this sheet music is printable using the Scorch plug-in)
One of the staple subjects for music of the 1890's was the issue of parental loss. Sometimes the loss came through death, other times through the evils of alcohol and in this case, a mother lost through desertion. The style of song is what we call "tear jerkers" and perhaps the original and most well known tear jerker was Charles K. Harris' After the Ball written in 1892. In October of 2001 we wrote a feature about tear jerkers and you can hear and read about After the Ball in that article. On that same page, make note of Come Home Father for an example of the "lost" parent due to alcohol.
Though I've not scientifically sampled all the tear jerkers in our archive, from my personal experience, most of these songs tend to have a very unhappy ending. A few have a happy ending. In this case, I won't let the cat out of the bag but you can see for yourself how this one turns out by viewing the Scorch version or the checking the "Lyrics" link below. The music is simple and pleasant in waltz time but in some respects sounds very similar to many of the other tear jerkers we've heard. Often when a song becomes a hot item, composers tend to mimic the style of the original hit to capitalize on the trend. That could explain the similarities. Written around the time After the Ball was released, we could wonder to what extent this song may have been influenced by Harris' work. Though technically not an American song as it was published in London, it is clearly influenced by the tear jerker fad of the 90's.
At this time, I've been unable to find any biographical information about the songwriters Alexander and Donnelly nor have I found any other titles by them. This is a common and unfortunate situation. It seems that many of the composers and writers of our songs have simply disappeared into thin air. Or so it seems given our library of music history and composers.
Hear this London music hall hit (Scorch format, be patient, long load time)
You and I has a rather plain cover which represents the transitional nature of music in the early 1890's. It was Charles K. Harris and his After the Ball that initiated a new formula for covers; improved cover art and a photograph of a famous singer who introduced or made famous the song. This style is more representative of some of the covers seen in prior decades although there was a period in the middle of the 19th century that had extravagant and beautifully colored lithographed covers.
This song was introduced by the writer as a performer in Thatcher's Minstrels production of Tuxedo. Tuxedo is a vaudeville with minstrelsy in which the song Ta-ra-ra Boom-de-ay was introduced. Actor and songwriter Edward Marble wrote and produced Tuxedo for George Thatcher and his minstrel troupe known as Thatcher's Minstrels. It played a tryout in Boston, Massachusetts beginning on August 24, 1891. Tuxedo arrived in New York at the Park Theatre (at Broadway and 35th Street) on October 5, 1891. Though the production was written by Marble, other members of the troupe, including Moore contributed music.
The song is rather simple, perhaps even simplistic. The opening verse begins with an accompaniment that is a chordal progression closely mimicking the melody. The song is through composed so the verses follow each statement of the foregoing verse and chorus. The strophic form is more efficient from a paper standpoint but many songs before Tin Pan Alley were written as through composed. There is a short bridge after the first chorus that leads to the second verse and chorus. I suppose the song would have made for a nice interlude in the production and of course, in context it would have much more meaning.
As for Raymon Moore, he is yet another casualty of time. He is not listed in any of my references, nor could I find mention of him on the net. I did find one other song by Moore, Sweet Marie, published in 1893..Listen to and watch the score ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, long load time)
Little Annie Rooney was popularized in a 19th-century song by Michael Nolan. After Nolan sang Little Annie Rooney in English music halls in 1890, Annie Hart (aka "The Bowery Girl") brought it to the United States. When she performed at New York's London Theatre, the song became a hit, but the absence of any international copyright laws kept Nolan from collecting royalties. This is one of a few songs from this period that have lived on to the present time. The song may have been the inspiration for the 1925 silent film starring Mary Pickford as a girl of the slums. Little Annie Rooney (United Artists), was set in New York's Lower East Side. Audiences found nothing unusual about 32-year-old Mary Pickford portraying a 12-year-old, and this became one of her more successful films. Turner Classic Movies has aired a restored version. The Fleischer Studios did a Little Annie Rooney animated Screen Song in 1931. Shirley Temple did her first teenage role (receiving her first screen kiss) in Miss Annie Rooney (1942); the George Bruce screenplay is not an adaptation of the comic strip but instead dramatizes the situation of a poor girl with a wealthy boy friend. The comic strip of the same name debuted in 1927 by King Features Syndicate and ran for an astounding 39 years before being retired in 1966. All that said, though the song may have inspired many same titled works, not all of them accurately represented the story told in the song. A contemporary recording of the song can be found on Amazon.com on the disc, Moonlight Bay
The music is set to a Waltz tempo. The melody of this song is infectiously beautiful as are the lyrics and I think you will see as I have why it has lasted. It's simply a sweet song with memorable melody and the story it tells is timeless.
Michael Nolan also wrote I Whistle & Wait for Katie at around the same time which was published as one of the Emerson Drug "Bromo Seltzer songs.
Hear and see the score to this song (Scorch format, be patient for images to load)
This song is a lovely "heart and home" ballad with an upbeat melody and lyric. It tells the story of an Irish immigrant who longs for the home and girl he left behind in Ireland. During this time, Irish emigration to America was a major issue and though there was a great deal of resentment and even violence against them initially, they soon became an important part of America and the music by and about them became wildly popular. That is the case even today when nearly everyone celebrates St. Patrick's day and all things Irish.
This ballad represents a plethora of songs about the wonders of Ireland, the women and homes that were left behind. This song also is from a series of works based on the original folk song (ca. 1650) idea and the title is most remembered in that context and as a "war" song. It is said the original was played in England whenever a regiment or man of war left for battle. Though the melody of the "original" is more well known, the idea is the same. The melodies of the original and this one are contagious. The accompaniment of this song is quite nice, a bit more complex than many of the songs presented here, and the sentiment is warm and full of love. This one is one of my favorites from those presented this month.
John T. Kelly (1855 - 1920) was a popular songwriter and performer from the 1880's through the 1910's. He appeared in a number of stage events including a burlesque, The Wily West in September of 1887 and Weber and Fields' Hokey-Pokey in February of 1912. Though his primary popularity was as a performer, he did write several songs other than I Long to See the Girl I Left Behind (1893) including, Nellie and May, Sisters Were They in 1893, She's Only a Working Girl, (1895) and After the War, (1898.)
Listen to and view this 1893 song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, be patient, sometimes a long load time due to graphics)
As with Green Palms, liturgical or religious music still played a large part in American music, especially in the home. We've seen many examples of such music over the years in our articles, some well known such as The Palms, and many others not so well known today. This is an example of one of the lesser known not to be confused with the 1922 Alfred H. Ackley tune of the same title which is well known and often played today. Written for solo voice and chorus, it is a simple and somewhat short song but I think it really shines in the short chorus. The mix of voices and harmony are beautiful and uplifting, despite the somewhat sobering message of the lyrics.
Henry W. Petrie (1857 - 1925) was born in Bloomington,
Illinois and enjoyed a successful career as a popular composer. Petrie's songs
were quite popular and he wrote a number of works that are still performed from
time to time. His first published song, I'm Mamma's Little Girl was
written in 1894. Later that same year, Petrie published a song titled, I
Don't Want To Play In Your Yard (scorch format) which was a huge hit.
The following year he tried to "answer" his own hit with You Can't
Play In Our Yard Anymore; it flopped. A number of his more popular
works were sea or ship related including his most famous work was and continues
to be, Asleep In The Deep, written with A. J. Lamb . That song was first
introduced by Jean Early in 1898 in Chicago in a performance with the Havery
Minstrels. We featured a fabulous German version of that work titled, Des
Seamanns Los (scorch format). He also collaborated with Lamb in writing At The Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea in 1900. Most of his hits came earlier
in his career and none have matched the staying power of Asleep In The Deep which was a colossal hit and immediately became a "war horse" for
bass singers. It is still quite popular today and bass singers love to slide
down the scale on the word "beware". Petrie wrote some additional
"water" songs, perhaps again to capitalize on "Asleep" including At The Bottom Of The Deep Blue Sea (1900) and Out
Where The Billows Roll High (scorch format) in 1901. Petrie died in
Paw Paw, Michigan in 1925.
Listen to and view one of Petrie's favorites ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, be patient, sometimes a long load time due to graphics)
On first listening and playing of this song, I felt that the title needed some revision. Rather than "will live forever" as a part of the title, the title should be; The Song that "Goes on" Forever. Though the title refers to Home Sweet Home (Scorch) as the song that will live forever. The writers proved to be correct in that regard but very wrong if referencing their own song. At six minutes and twenty seconds when all repeats are played, the song is extremely long for a popular song. As such, it gets rather tiresome. Most popular songs of the period ran for from two minutes (and often less) to around three minutes.
This work takes on the identity of a miniature opera. The song is actually quite complex with a number of "episodes" as compared to most popular songs. It has a clearly identified verse (in common time) and chorus (in waltz time) but adds some extras. After the repeat of the chorus after the first verse, there is a double bridge of a moderato repeat of the introduction followed by a completely new musical idea marked agitato that includes a short passage for cornet representing a military bugle call. The story told by the lyrics is of a group of soldiers talking of "home sweet home" and the next passage, also agitato brings us to a section representing a battle where one of the soldiers falls, mortally wounded. Then as a bridge back to the very beginning (da capo) we hear a snippet of the melody of Home Sweet Home. Transported back to the beginning we now enjoy the second verse and the journey ends at the end of the chorus, a much anticipated and appreciated conclusion. In all, the song spans a total of eleven pages!
Felix McGlennon ( 1856 - 1943) was an Irishman who made a great success as a composer of popular songs in the late nineteenth century. He was not only popular in England, he also had a great following in the United States where, like Mark Twain, he once had the sobering experience of reading his own obituary in the newspapers. Mc Glennon wrote and composed many of his songs but also served as a writer of lyrics for other composers. Some of his songs not only include The Song That Will Live Forever (1895) but also That is Love (1890), Poor Little Thing (1894), Comrades (1887), Tol Lol Lol (1895), Only a Little Yaller Dog (1893) and Oh! Uncle John (1895.)
Listen to this early pre Tin Pan Alley song (Scorch plug-in, be patient, long load due to graphics)
Here we have another example of a sheet music cover with the photo of a popular star of the era. Isadore Rush. Miss rush was born around 1876 (an interview in 1896 was kind enough to not ask her age but to say it was "about a score of years ago".) She was raised in a strict family who banned her from attending the theater. Her sister snuck her into one to see Pygmalion and the young girl was immediately stage struck and thus began a career in both popular song and opera. Described as a "daintily feminine girl," it was said that after she dispensed with the masculine attire (as seen in the photo at left), her femininity became quite apparent. She performed in many broadway musicals including The Wrong Mr. Wright which opened at the Bijou Theatre, September 6, 1897.
The song is written in common time and makes liberal use of dotted eighths and sixteenth notes to create sort of a "skipping" tempo. That lilting skip is common in a number of coon songs from the era (hear the midi of Stay in Your Own Backyard from our August 1999 feature about prejudice in song.) and adds a bit of playfulness to the song. The lyrics tell a story of a young black child being sung to sleep. The chorus ends with a short passage for banjo which then bridges to the second verse. Keep in mind that this song as with most songs of this genre used a mockery of black dialect and many of the phrases or words are unacceptable today but were widespread at the time this song was written. Coon songs have their origin in minstrelsy which began the use of illiterate and mispronounced words to "simulate" black dialect back in the 1840's.
Adam Geibel (1855-1933) Composer, songwriter, conductor, organist, teacher and publisher. Adam Geibel came to the United States and was educated at the Pennsylvania Institute for the Blind in Philadelphia (where he later would teach piano, violin, harmony and composition over a seventeen-year career). He was blinded at age 8 by a serious eye infection. He studied music with David Wood and earned an honorary Music Degree from Temple University. Between 1885 and 1925 he was chief organist for the John Stetson Mission Sunday School, and he founded a publishing company. Joining ASCAP, his chief musical collaborators included Earl Burtnett and Richard Buck, and his other popular-song and sacred compositions include Kentucky Babe, Evening Bells, The Nativity, The Incarnation, Light Out of Darkness, Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus, Some Day He'll Make It Plain and Let the Gospel Light Shine Out. (from IMDB)
Listen to this old "Blackface" song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Back in February of 2006 we published a feature article about "morality songs," songs with a moral or ethical message. These style of songs are similar to "tear jerkers" as they are usually based on a sad or somewhat unfortunate story. We said at that time "in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Victorian morality ran rampant and much of America's music carried strong and obvious moral messages." This song seems to fit into that genre in that it tells a sad story of a woman betrayed by a man who promised marriage but later chose another. When he tries to assuage her pain with money, she tells him to take back his gold and live up to his promise to marry her. By this time, popular song covers were developing into artistic works and this one with its ornate background and photo simulation if the confrontation told of by the song is an excellent example.
The music is sweet and very much reflective of the times and the tear jerker style of song. The lyrics tell the story of the two as witnessed and told by a third party. The composition and accompaniment is more complex than many of the songs prior to this time and also is reflective of the development of song from pure simplicity of performance, to an increased level of pianism required.
This song lists one of the leading Minstrel performers, Louis W. Pritzkow, as lyricist, but according to some sources, Rosenfeld actually wrote the lyric. He supposedly bribed Pritzkow to use the song in his act, by paying him cash and listing him as lyricist. (Emma Carus always sang the song in her act, as thanks to Rosenfeld setting her on a career in vaudeville.)
Monroe H. Rosenfeld (b. 1861, Richmond, VA
- d. 1918, New York) Rosenfeld was more well known as a journalist than a compose rand
lyricist and his main musical claim to fame was the 1886 song, Johnnie Get
Your Gun. However, his biggest contribution to America's musical heritage
was the naming of Tin Pan Alley. He was the journalist who coined the term while
writing a series of articles about America's popular music industry in 1903.
Several of Rosenfeld's song melodies were said to have been pilfered from other composers. His other works include; Alabama Walk-Around (1891), The New Berlin, The Virginia Skedaddle (1892), Clean
Hands and Tainted Gold (Scorch format) (1904) and A Mother's Lullaby.
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch format, allow time for download)
During this decade and somewhat before, there were a number of battlefield "death" songs that told tales of a wounded soldier giving a last message or a last hurrah for their side. One such song was written by Charles K. Harris in 1897 titled, Break the News to Mother (read about it here). In our feature about songs of the American Civil War, we also published Just after the Battle by George F. Root that also told the tale of a mortally wounded soldier and his last thoughts. In that same article, we see Write a Letter to My Mother which came with a rather interesting narrative claiming that the song was based on an actual incident (read the narrative in that same Civil War songs issue. This song is similar in nature to the others and even seems to borrow somewhat from those before it. Again we also see the trend to "tear jerker" songs that these songs represent.
Set during the Spanish-American war (April - August 1898) the cover states that it is a "pathetic incident of war." In this case, we not only have one soldier dying but two side by side dreaming of home. One dreams of his sweetheart who he will never see and the other, his mother. Both cling to a lock of hair from their "love" and both close their eyes in death as the sun goes down. Heady stuff! I can't imagine the pain that this type of song might bring to the loved ones of those killed in a war. It seems to simply add salt to an already open wound. It is the story that makes this song something special, not the music. The music is somewhat boring and unremarkable.
Lyn Udall was a fairly productive songwriter and he has quite a few songs to his credit, some of which were recorded and at least one recorded recently. His most famous song, and one we get many orders for reprints for, is Stay in Your Own Back Yard (see the above reference to the song and link to the article that we wrote that features it.) Udall found most of his fame early in his career with songs such as the above mentioned "Stay," Just One Girl (1898), Zizzy Ze Zum Zum Zum (1898), You Won't Have to Show Me How (?) and later, The Little Colonel (1907). Almost all but a few of his songs were in collaboration with Karl Kennett.
Listen to and watch the music play ( Scorch version, be patient for graphics to load)
The military march became one of the most popular genres of popular music during the 1890's. Two composers works stimulated the fad, first was John Philip Sousa (known as the march king) who actually wrote marches for the military as the leader of the U.S. Marine band and E. T. Paull (who we have dubbed "America's other march king) who wrote and arranged many marches celebrating famous military and historic events. I believe Paull did more to popularize the march genre than any other composer of the 90's. You can read our biography of him that we first published in 2001.
There were countless other composers who managed to write and publish many excellent marches for popular consumption, among them this writer, Ernst Fischer who also was a songwriter of repute. The dedication to this piece on the first page is interesting; "Dedicated to and accepted by John Philip Sousa" which implies that Sousa used the song with his Marine band. I've not been able to confirm that Sousa used the march in any performances but by submitting it to Sousa, Fischer may have been simply looking for a marketing advantage.
Despite that, the march is engaging if not somewhat over simplified and for a man known more for popular songs is a fair example of his compositional skills. Given the arrangement, I suspect he wrote it so that an average piano player could perform it. Compared to this one, Paull and Sousa marches required more advanced skills.
Listen to and watch the music play ( Scorch version, be patient for graphics to load)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this work)
As our final piece and as an end to this article introducing the Erdmann collection is a song whose title caught my eye simply because this title is universally suggestive of the great Irving Berlin who wrote the definitive Always in 1925. That said, I also chose it to demonstrate a point about songs, titles and copyright. There are over one thousand songs listed in the ASCAP database titled Always. The BMI database lists over three thousand! So that is almost 5,000 songs with the title. How can that be? Copyright law protects intellectual property such as music, art and books or other products of authorship. However, titles cannot be copyrighted. When you think about it, that makes sense as there are unlimited combinations of words and music that can be isolated as unique and protected but when you start looking at titles, especially one word titles, copyrighting them severely limits creativity and the ability to write a new song based on a title idea.
So, here we have an Always, written long before Berlin's and probably most others titled the same that represents a completely different and unique combination of musical notes and lyrics. The song has a sweet sentiment and musically it is very representative of the style of popular songs in the 1890's. It also has a touch of art song and in some respects, sounds a bit like it came from an opera or operetta. It is a pleasant waltz and a fitting end to this article. Enjoy the music.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and all the music. You can look forward to at least two other articles specifically about this most generous donation of music to us. Expect an article about music of the 1900-09 decade and the 1910 - 19 decade. We will over time, share with you many of the hundreds of songs this collection represents.
Listen to and watch the music play ( Scorch version, be patient for graphics to load)
This article published November 2010 and is Copyright © 2010 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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