Twice we have featured the works of one of the masters of American music,
Edward Taylor Paull. One of our earliest features in June
of 1998 featured just a very few of his works. In July
of 2001, we provided a much expanded feature of his works based on our
collection. In addition, several of his works have appeared in other issues,
including our issue on transportation related themes in February
of 2001. In addition, several other similar sites like ours around the
net feature works by Paull. Perfessor
Bill Edward's site, like ours, has a number of works with covers and
J. Feenstra's site has perhaps the largest collection of Paull MID files
and covers displayed, but alas, no commentary or descriptive material. Of
course, our site is the only one where you can actually see the score as
the music plays. In addition to the continuing exposure of his music, copies
of his sheet music are among the most sought after sheet music collectibles
there are. In terms of avid collectors and price, perhaps his music is the
number one sheet music collectible category there is.
What is it about ET Paull and his music that
attracts so much attention after over one hundred years since its first
appearance and almost 80 years since the composer's death? If you visited
our features and sampled his music, no doubt you discovered that his music,
though sometimes exciting, is not all that memorable. Several experts have
somewhat uncharitably described it as "forgettable", while others,
myself included have accused him of repetitiveness and recycling of his
own musical ideas. All one has to do is look at the fabulous sheet music
cover from Paul Revere's Ride, published in 1905, at the right
to discover the attraction of ET Paull sheet music. (Click the cover to
see and hear the scorch version, click here for the
midi version) Paull was a journeyman musician who was also a master
of marketing. As such, Paull clearly understood the value of image and a
cover. Though most folks would agree with the old saw; "you can't tell
a book from its cover", most would also agree that covers sell books.
Paull understood this and from the start, his very first publication, he
used high quality paper, and contracted for a high quality lithographed
cover with an attractive and fascinating theme. Though he refined the look
and most of his covers are absolutely much more stunning than his first,
the Paull "look" is clearly there from the start.
Here is a the cover of his first publication, The Chariot Race or Ben
Hur March, published in 1894. We can see that Paull had the
right idea from the very start. What is perhaps strange is that one day
and his marches were not there and the next day there he was, sweeping the
nation with a hit song and incredible cover with his very first publication.
Unlike many composers, there appears to be no period of "struggle"
where the composer published a few tentative works that were unnoticed and
inconsequential till after the composer became famous with later compositions.
Either Paull hit a home run with his first swing, or the real history of
his work has been lost or obscured. Conventional thinking seems to only
support the home run theory. However, at least one student and collector
of Paull, Wayland Bunnell, has some evidence of Paull's involvement in music
publishing (not necessarily composing) as early as 1888. Paull's impact
on popular music was exceptional. He taught publishers the value of well
designed covers and capitalized on a musical craze for march music and in
doing so, was dubbed the "New March King" (Sousa being the first)
by the New York Music Trade Review and many leading music publications
of the time. In this article, we do not pretend to offer any new facts on
his life. We have simply consolidated some of the information available
and are offering our own unique view and commentary on his life and work.
Many of the facts of E.T. Paull's life would remainu nknown to this day
were it not for the work of Wayland Bunnell of Manchester, N.H. who in the
1980's traced the life of Paull by visiting his home town and other areas
where Paull operated. Bunnell searched local records and traced Paull's
activities and documented them for us. It is with a great deal of appreciation
for his efforts that we provide much of these biographical facts. Bunnell's
original 1989 article in the Sheet Music Exchange is included at
the end of our article.
Edward Taylor Paull was born on February 16, 1858 in Gerrardstown, Virginia
(Now West Virginia), to Henry W. Paull and Margaret C. Thornburg Paull.
Little is known about Paull's early years, his education, occupations and
activities seem unknown or unpublished from birth to 1878 or so. His father
is listed variously as a miller and farmer in Gerrardstown and later, a
boarding house keeper in Martinsburg by 1870. According to Bunnell, the
earliest record of Edward was in 1878 when an ad in the Martinsburg paper
for a music store mentioned Paull as general manager. According to one source,
this store was owned by Paull and he sold pianos and organs. Paull amassed
a fair amount of debt during his early years and though his father was fairly
prosperous, his father sold off some of his assets to help Edward pay his
debts. Apparently, his own business failed and in 1894, when he was issued
his first copyright for Ben Hur, he was general manager of the Richmond
Music Co. in Richmond. The copyright was taken out in the Music Company's
name as were the next three Paull compositions, What Might Have Been,
The Della Fox Little Trooper March and Two Step and The Old
Man's Story, which was later renamed to The Stranger's Story
Chariot Race was the watershed event though in defining Paull's style
and approach to selling music. That song sold over 60,000 copies the first
year, quite a good result for a first publication by an unknown artist.
Later, the work was recorded by John Phillip Sousa and even later became
connected to the silent film Ben Hur (1926) which helped continue
to stimulate sales over a period well into the late 1920's.
In 1896, the publication of Charge of The Light Brigade (see our
July, 2001 issue ) reinforced
his success and firmly established the Paull "formula." What was
the Paull formula? If you have seen the above issue, it becomes obvious.
First and foremost, he was in tune to the public's appetite for certain
styles of music. At the time, Marches were the rage and it just so happened
that Paull was very adept at composing marches. He also published related
works that were targeted to the public's interest such as gallops, waltzes,
fox-trots and novelties. Though we have been critical of his works as repetitive,
at the time he was admired and respected as a composer. His marches, called
"thundering" by at least one biographer, were playable by even
amateur pianists. Granted, probably not well as I think they present a level
of difficulty and require a skill in performance that is a challenge. Also,
his music had an appeal to our base emotions. Beyond the music, it was the
packaging that really helped Paull sell music. You will find no other composer
so associated with consistently beautiful color covers as ET Paull.
It was Paull's good fortune to live in Richmond, Virginia for there resided
a lithography company of the highest caliber, A. Hoen & Company. Hoen
provided Paull with incredibly rich art with color that was rarely seen
on music covers. Most of Paull's covers were printed using the a five color
process which added to the range and depth of color. Most mass produced
music covers of the period were produced using a three color and sometimes
even a two color process. As a result, Paull's covers grabbed the consumer's
attention and even added an aspect of visual art to the piano bench. This
work, Ring Out Wild Bells, from 1905 is one of Paull's typically
detailed and colorful covers. This particular work has some interesting
attempts at bell sounds and chime sounds that don't quite work. Click on
the cover to see and hear the score using the Scorch format, click
here for the MIDI version.
Once he had a best selling work, financial security allowed Paull to focus
entirely on his music publishing business. Though he occasionally used other
lithographers and artists ( J.E. Rosenthal & Bert Cobb), his connection
with Hoen helped ensure the success of subsequent publications. By 1896,
Paull had moved to New York, the center of the music publishing business
and there he established his own publishing house. Like most publishers,
Paull issued and reissued his own works in different versions. These versions
took form in smaller editions (almost all Paull sheets were issued in the
large format ) and in some cases, even "budget priced" black and
white reprints of popular works. Of course, a black and white issue of any
Paull work is not at all as appealing as the original five color lithographs.
From a collectors point of view, they are not particularly valuable but
some sellers hype them as important. All ET Paull covers are NOT created
equal. Oddly, even some of the art work changed from issue to issue. One
example is the work, A Signal From Mars, originally published in
1901. The work was issued with two subtly different covers. Though at first
glance, they appear the same, on closer examination, you can see that on
one, the person looking in the telescope has an unbelted robe. The second
cover has a belted robe and a telescope where it appears the viewer is
looking through the wrong end of the telescope! The first published cover was the "belted" one while the unbelted version came later.
In addition, there are a few other covers with variations
in artwork that can be found. For a person attempting to collect all versions
of ET Paull composed or arranged works, the task could become quite complicated
and daunting. If one were seeking to collect all works published by the
ET Paull music company over its forty year span, it could become a life's
Paull's works have a special place in the history of sheetmusic and American
popular song. If it were not for his eye for color and action, it is likely
that today his works may not even be known, much less collected with any
enthusiasm. His powerful musical and visual images inspired people, their
patriotism and their emotions and as a result, he managed to become a phenomenon
reflective of popular tastes and ideals. Paull died on November 25, 1924
and his wife carried on the Paull Music Company for a few years after. It
is my understanding that the Paull family retained copyrights on his music
until they passed into the public domain, not so many years ago. We would
love to hear from any of Paull's descendants with more details of his life.
Though his work is well known and he is an important figure in American
music, the details of his life are still sketchy and lack some of the personal
detail that allow us to truly understand important historical figures.
Paull was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York.
We hope you have enjoyed this special biography and the music of Edward
Taylor Paull. If you have not seen them, be sure to visit our most recent,
feature of ET Paull works and our original feature from June,
1998 to see and hear a number of his works.
The following is the Bunnell article of 1989 which he has graciously provided
to us with kind permission to reprint it.
April 1989 Vo1ume VII, Issue Number 2
THE SHEET MUSIC EXCHANGE
On January 20, 1857, Henry Washington Paull, then 41 years of age, and
Margaret C. Thornburg were married. They were the parents of Edward Taylor
Paull. Henry was listed in the 1850 census of Berkeley County, Virginia
as a miller for the McClary family. E. T. Paull, their first child, was
born in Gerrardstown on February 16, 1858. Two other children followed;
Laura May, born May 23, 1859, and Mary C., born December 27, 1861.In 1860
county census, Henry is listed as a farmer, but by 1870, he is listed as
a boarding house keeper in Martinsburg. The Civil War had come and gone,
but undoubtedly not without its effect on the Paull family.
To step back a few years in the area's history, on July 11, 1861, General
George B. McClellan defeated the Confederate troops at Rich Mountain, paving
the way for surrounding counties to become the state of West Virginia. Indeed,
Martinsburg changed hands some eighteen times during the course of the Civil
War. I've always wondered if the conflict necessitated the move of the Paull
family from rural Gerrardstown to the larger town of Martinsburg, and if
Henry's occupation as a boarding house keeper were related to the war. In
any event, Henry apparently prospered, as court house deed records show
that he owned key downtown parcels of land and apparently owned and lived
in a house on Martin Street. E. T. Paull was quite young during the Civil
War, from three to seven years, and I've no doubt that the intense activity
in the area must have made an impression on him, as so much of the material
he eventually wrote and published had to do with war and patriotic
So far, the earliest record of E. T. Paull, other than his birth record,
is an ad in the Martinsburg Statesman, a local paper. In the March 21, 1878
issue, Paull, then 20, is general manager of a music store on King Street
near the current Martinsburg post office, where he sold pianos and organs,
and was an agent for New England Organs. From other sources, there was mention
that Laura, his sister, sang in a local choir, so music must have been part
of his family life as well. Edward undoubtedly sold sheet music in his store.
Though the courthouse deeds showed that Henry prospered, apparently Edward
did not as in 1885 and 1886, Henry sold some of his downtown property to
pay his son's accumulated debts of $2750 - no small sum at that time.
Until August of this year, the next record of E. T. Paull was at the time
of Henry I s death, and Edward was listed as living in Richmond. But due
to the eagle eye of a fellow (sheet music) dealer, "Chase Bros. Grand
Triumphal March", copyrighted 1888 arrived at my door. It has a music
store stamp for Sanders and Stayman, with E. T. Paull imprinted as general
manager! To my knowledge, this is the first pre-"Chariot Race"
piece of E. T. Paull memorabilia to surface outside the public records.
It's not a great stretch of the imagination to deduce that after Henry bailed
out Edward in Martinsburg, Edward moved to Richmond, and greener pastures.
Probably Paull's function at Sanders and Stayman was similar to his work
1893 and 1894 were full years for E. T.. Both his father and mother died,
his daughter was born, and his first march, "The Chariot Race or Ben
Hur March" was an instant success. Most likely, the idea for this piece
came from the Ben Hur story made popular by General Lew Wallace's book.
Early editions of the march, which was dedicated to Wallace, bear a reproduction
of a letter from him to Edward, congratulating him on the beauty and success
of the piece. This letter appeared in editions up until 1897.
March 14, 1986 ,was the date of the last copyright for Richmond. June 29,
1896, the copyright date for "Charge of the Light Brigade" was
the first one registered in New York. Assuming one had to have a viable
address to copyright, and given Paull's honest reputation, he must have
moved to New York between March and June of 1896. On this first march, the
publisher is listed as Richmond Music Co. Richmond, Va.. It is not currently
known if the Richmond Music Company was another music store like Sanders
and Stayman, or simply a title which Paull invented for the purposes of
copyright registration. Only the first four copyrights were taken out in
the name of the Richmond Music Co.: 1. "The Chariot Race or Ben Hur
March", 2. "The Old Man's Story", 3. "The Stranger's
Story", and 4. "The Della Fox Little Trooper March and Two Step".
Interestingly enough, 2 and 3 appear to be the same piece.
In the Library of Congress, there is a copy of "The Old Man's Story",
printed in rust and green. The title is overprinted in bronze ink with "The
Stranger's Story" printed in black over that. At the right is a photograph
of this piece with the under letters enhanced. And though "The Della
Fox Little Trooper March" is registered under the Richmond Music Company;
it was printed by the E. T. Paull Music Company, also of Richmond. Paull
published only 15 months before he put his own name on the publishing business.
Both "The Chariot Race" and "The Della Fox" are indicative
of a trend in
Paull's publishing career. As writers tend to write best when they write(about)
what they know, Paull had a strong tendency to publish what he kmew.
Though he did take full advantage of the musical styles and demands of the
time, as did any sizeable publisher, he as often as not published material
about specific people or events. I've wondered how he came to commemorate
a stage performer. Did he makee a trip to New York and see her in one of
her early stage performances there? Or, perhaps, did she tour to Richmond.
Anyway, the "mite of cheer" from France was depicted in full costume
and "The Della Fox Little Trooper March" is one of his most striking
covers. Even when her career had a brief resurgence around 1904, he had
another edition of the march printed, which carries the 46 W 28th St. address.
Paull also published four-hand arrangements for his marches, brass and marching
band orchestrations, simplified arrangements for piano; banjo, guitar, and.
mandolin arrangements and even piano rolls. And an early catalogue has come
my way that lists hundreds of songs in the public domain, which he also
With the immense success of three of his early pieces, "The Chariot
Race", "The Stranger's Story", and "Charge of the Light
Brigade" Edward Taylor Paull embarked on one of the most elaborate
and colorful publishing careers of the early 20th century music publishing
industry. Though he personally wrote only a few compositions each year,
his early career was marked by a large array of music by other composers.
Of the 207 identified song sheets he published, 142 (nearly 75%) were copyrighted
and published before 1902. In most all cases, he owned the copyright, and
published works by such composers as Charles Shackford, Charles Jerome Wilson,
Ion Arnold, Harry J. Lincoln, and Sterling and Von Tilzer to name a few.
He not only sold his own copyrighted songs and marches, but also acted as
selling agent for other publishers, most notably for Alb. Fitz. Fitz published
a number of sentimental and novelty songs just before the turn of the century.
The address for Alb. Fitz was 20 E 17th St. as was E. T. Paull's and the
songs I have by Fitz for which Paull served as the selling agent are all
copyrighted in 1896 and 1897, the years that Paull was at the mentioned
Edward was also interested in classical and parlor music. He advertised
in The Etude, a music periodical published by Theodore Presser of
Philadelphia. The Etude enjoyed a nationwide distribution and probably
explains why Paull's songs and marches appear with similar frequency all
over the country. "The Chariot Race" appears to be as common in
North Dakota as it is in New York! His earliest ad in the Etude seems to
be in the first quarter of 1898, and I've seen them as late as 1909. In
1904 - 1906, he published about 100 classical transcriptions called The
Edition Paull. These were issued with construction paper-like covers, with
(usually) an art nouveau design, and were arranged by a number of musicians
for different levels of difficulty in piano study. There are six grades
After 1902, his publishing career slowed down a bit, and he only published
two and occasionally three pieces per year; and sometimes only one. Business
must have quite active with the catalogue of material he already had to
cut back on publishing so far. He did apparently; travel to Germany a couple
of times before the First World War, once in 1900, and again in 1910. He
spoke fluent German, and addressed an assembly in Germany in that language,
and was well received. He also met the Crown Prince of Germany, and I believe
he may have met Kaiser Wilhelm II.
While Edward had regularly issued different covers for some of his sheet
he got serious about it just before and during the first world war. "The
Ice Palace March", which was originally printed in 1898 to commemorate
the state of his Mount Vernon home after a winter freeze, was subsequently
issued around 1914 with a totally different cover. The new issue depicts
a large castle built with ice blocks, and has people dancing inside. These
ice "palaces" were popular in the northern states and in Canada,
and were usually the central features for large winter festivals. And, with
the onset of World War I, Paull apparently realized that much of his Spanish-American
inspired music could be re-issued. The song version of "America Forever!
March" was released again with a black and white cover. Both march
and song versions of "We'll Stand By the Flag" were re-issued
with a new Hoen lithograph of a soldier and sailor and the usual patriotic
imagery. I have found a copy of "We'll Stand By The Flag" with
the Spanish American War cover printed as late as 1916. Apparently, the
pieces he published as new works were more popular, because they are a lot
easier to find.
Always a man of the times, just after the war, Edward recognized the growing
silent movie industry. In 1919, he published "Armenian Maid" which
has an inside dedication to Aurora Mardiganian, who he claims is the sole
survivor of the Armenian massacre, and is currently appearing in the film
"Auction of Souls".
Most song publishers released what are called professional copies or advance
artist copies of their material prior to the sheet music. These editions,
usually done on flimsy paper, were distributed free to musicians and stores,
or anyone who might
be in a position to promote a song. In the past few years, I have found
professional copies for "Sheridan's Ride", "Legion of Victory",
and "Custer's Last Charge". They all suggest use of the music
for silent films. I also have a thematic cue sheet,
for the Paramount film "Womandhandled" which uses a section from
"The Romany Rye" for part of the film score.
Edward sent off his last copyright on October 2, 1924, for "Spirit
of the U. S. A.". He died six weeks later on November 27. Almost two
years after his death, Maurice Richmond, a lifelong friend who bought the
company, published the last E. T. Paull march, "Top of the World",
and used the E. T. Paull Music Co. logo for the last time.
ParlorSongs, July, 2001, revised October, 2005.
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