Above: A collage of some of the great "weather" music covers from Tin Pan Alley.
Interestingly, while going through the unpublished titles in our collection looking for music for this issue, I was intrigued by the dearth of titles related to winter. Perhaps that is because winter is more often associated with drear, cold and in many cases, the end of life. Despite that, I did find this simple and cute little ditty that is a part of a series clearly intended for children's piano pedagogy. The other titles associated with the series, as is the case with this one, all seem to relate to the fun side of winter which is surely appropriate for children's pieces. The pleasant winter scene on the cover is unsigned. We've entered the fingering as printed on the score and made this one printable (using the Scorch plug-in) so that some of you piano teachers can use it in your craft.
As you would expect, the melody and accompaniment are very basic and very little harmony exists in the right hand part. The piece is a pleasant waltz written with repeats and has three distinct waltz melodies and key changes which despite the simplicity makes it a well constructed waltz and a good teaching vehicle. I am often amazed at the sophistication of teaching points that can be found in simple tunes like this one.
John. S. Fearis (b. 1867 - d. 1932) Fearis was a publisher as well as composer, having his own 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 (1917). 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.
Hear this "cool" winter waltz ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics to this melody)
Once winter decides to leave us and make way for spring, it is often a shift in the winds that presage the changes to come. Often, the first taste of spring comes on gentle breezes. The composer has given us the perfect vehicle for transitioning from winter to spring. Later we'll experience the violent weather that comes as spring sets in but for now we can enjoy a work that in the fashion of a tone poem, gives us a musical image of those murmuring zephyrs that come each season.
Uniquely marked with "murmurando con delicatezza," the composer introduces a flowing set of arpeggios with a quiet counter melody in the left hand. A short transitional passage takes us to more of the same however, in a fashion that implies the wind may be blowing more strongly. I think this piece, though simple in many respects till we get near the end (measure 74) where we find a more complex and bold section seems to me to be a little tiring to play and after a while it becomes tiresome to listen to. The piece continues to build till we reach a crescendo then a short coda that is less belligerent. This one is also printable so that those of you needing some finger exercise can give your digits a good workout.
Alfred Jensen is another of the many enigmas found in the history of Tin Pan Alley. Searching through our library and the listings at the largest University sheet music collections, I've found no other works by him or any biographical information.
Hear the zephyrs cascade over the keyboard ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this melody)
This song is one of my two "discoveries of the month." It is a beautiful flowing ballad that is filled with emotion. Though technically I suppose it really is not about the weather it does use the weather feature of clouds to make its point. The song is about lost or unrequited love and is very expressive. Of course watching clouds roll by was, and is a common musical theme used to symbolize the dreamer in us all. Who among us has not contemplated the good and the bad on a beautiful day with a sky full of puffy clouds? Hey, there's and elephant!
Piantadosi has given us a wonderful waltz song with a dreamy melody that
is evocative of the clouds slowly and dreamily passing us by. It is marked
Valse lento and the slow, almost sluggish pace adds to the emotion and
drama of the piece. The verse melody is wonderful, perhaps even better
than the chorus but at least its equal. The song is relatively short and
were it not for repeats and a second verse, it would barely be a minute
or so. We've made this one printable and we hope those of you who play
will find it to be something worth performing regularly.
Al. Piantadosi ( b. 1884, New York City - d. 1955, Encino, CA ) Piantadosi was one of Tin Pan Alley's more prolific writers of sentimental ballads from 1906 well into the 1930's. Though many of his works were quite popular, unfortunately few have come down to us in the permanent repertoire. During his heydays he collaborated with some of the best lyricists of the times including Alfred Bryan, Grant Clarke, and Edgar Leslie. Piantadosi was a pianist in resorts and night clubs and an accompanist in vaudeville early on. He toured Europe and Australia and was responsible for popularizing much of America's music in those countries. For a time, he owned his own publishing house. Perhaps his most famous work is the tearjerker, The Curse of An Aching Heart from 1913. Among his many other popular works are; Good-Bye Mr Caruso (1909), Melinda's Wedding Day (1913), Good Luck Mary (1909) I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Soldier (1915, Scorch format), Rusty-Can-O Rag (1910), That Italian Rag (1910) and Baby Shoes, (1916, MIDI).
Listen to and watch the score ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
This is my second discovery of the month. Though this month has only four songs (versus piano only works), they are a cut above (mostly) than many of the songs we feature on a monthly basis. Of course in this case, one would expect Carroll & MacDonald, both hall of fame inductees to produce songs of high quality. This is a very cute song about two children, one sad and one on the philosophical side who contemplate life and how we must take the bad with the good. Of course, they grow up and face life together.
The introduction foretells a wonderful tune and one that will bring plenty of musical sunshine into our lives. The harmony has that early Tin Pan Alley sound to it (lots of octaves) and conveys a happy, childlike tone. Carroll spared no skill in producing a fabulous song that sticks in your head like mashed potatoes to your ribs. This is one of those occasional joyous musical experiences and like so many of our "rescued" tunes, deserves a permanent place in the piano bench today as much as it did in 1913.
Harry Carroll was born born Nov. 28, 1892, Atlantic City, New Jersey and died 1962, Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania. Self taught, Harry was playing piano in movie houses even while he was still in grade school. He graduated high school and went to New York City, where, during the day, he found work as an arranger in Tin Pan Alley, and, during the night, playing in the Garden Cafe on 7th Avenue and 50th Street. In 1912, the Schuberts hired him to supply songs for some of their shows. He collaborated with Arthur Fields on his first hit On the Mississippi, with lyrics by Ballard MacDonald (for the show The Whirl of Society). Among Carroll and MacDonald's best known compositions, are 1913's There's a Girl in the Heart of Maryland (midi), and The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (midi), and It Takes a Little Rain With the Sunshine to Make the World Go Round.
In 1914, he wrote By the Beautiful Sea, (Scorch format) with lyric by Harold Atteridge. In 1918, Carroll produced his own Broadway musical Oh, Look!, and the classic I'm Always Chasing Rainbows, (Scorch format) was written with the lyric by Joseph McCarthy. Harry married Anna Wheaton, and the two starred in vaudeville for many years. After the decline of vaudeville, Harry was a 'single' act in various cafes, where he sang his own songs. From 1914 through 1917, Harry was the director of ASCAP. Carroll is a Songwriters' Hall of Fame member.
Ballard MacDonald (1882 - 1935) was born in Portland Oregon. He was educated at Princeton and became best known as a lyricist who collaborated with some of the greatest Tin Pan Alley composers of the period. His best known works are The Trail Of The Lonesome Pine, (MIDI) written in 1913 with Harry Carroll and Back Home Again In Indiana with James M. Hanley, 1917. He also wrote Play that Barber Shop Chord in 1910 which resulted in an interesting court case. In 1910, publisher/composer Fred Helf published Play That Barbershop Chord, by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, or at least that is how Helf published it. Songwriter Ballard MacDonald had begun work on the song and had written dummy lyrics before leaving the song behind. The piece was finished by Lewis Muir and William Tracey, and MacDonald was incensed that Helf left his name off the sheet music. He sued Helf successfully, and the award of $37,500 forced Helf into bankruptcy thus ending his foray into publishing. MacDonald died in Forest Hills, New York in 1935.
Hear and see the score to this sweet song (Scorch format)
The piece begins with an almost happy tune that rather than foreshadowing the storm to come, lulls us into a sense of peace and provides no fear of what may come. Consider the opening bars the calm before the storm. In increasingly more aggressive and up tempo passages, Schmid offers somewhat of a musical image of a storm, but not nearly as full of doom as I expected. At measure 103, we finally hear a darker and slightly scary passage but it quickly gives way to the opening melodies which, though fast are still pleasant and less threatening. Overall, Schmid has created a very nice piano work that will challenge some of you and makes for an interesting listen. Somewhat diabolically, as we often do with more difficult pieces, we've made it printable through the Scorch plug-in. Have fun.
Johann C. Schmid wrote a number of interesting pieces including The Baseball March (1905), Every Ship Will Find a Harbour (1911), You're a Grand Old Bell (1909) and Vale of Dreams (1911). However, no record of any lasting hits exists and I've been unable to find any information about his life. We've featured some of his other works over the years including his Moonlight In Jungle Land (1909) which appeared in our October 2003 feature about "monkey songs."
Run for shelter as you listen to this piece! ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics to this melody)
This is the third of Petrie's "deep sea" works that we've featured (see the below biography for titles and links to the music.) After his smash hit Asleep in the Deep in 1898, Petrie tried to capitalize on the theme and popularity by writing several other sea songs for bass or baritone. None of these others have lasted like "Asleep," but they are worth preserving. Perhaps some of you basses and baritones out there will find them worthy of resurrecting on stage, I hope so. All three pieces have a great deal of similarity both musically and lyrically. For the most part, they depict storms at sea, mariner's peril and sunken ships. In keeping with our storm theme, we must remember that though storms on land wreak more personal and widespread havoc, storms at sea can be exceptionally dangerous and costly in trade and the human toll.
I could not help thinking as I first listened to this piece that I was listening to Asleep in the Deep or Out Where The Billows Roll High. As with the whirlwind, I expected to hear a piece that would convey the fury and fear of a storm at sea. Instead, I got a rather mundane and uninspiring piece. Though it has its high points, in particular the balladic section beginning at measure 57, for the most part its clear why this piece did not measure up to some of his other works. I had to remind myself that it was a song, not a piano solo piece so my expectations may have been unfairly slanted.
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 this song of the deep (Scorch plug-in)
At last a piece that runs with the wind and conveys the fury of a storm! Though many of Paulls works are so similar as to be almost indistinguishable from each other, this one is quite different yet still in the same general style that made Paull so successful and popular. Of course the cover is typical Paull. Produced by Hoen Lithographers, it is a stunning work. Of course collectors value Paull's sheet music only for the cover art, only pianists or sites like ours value them for their intrinsic and historic musical value. Recent bidding on Ebay has pushed the sale price of Paull sheets to ridiculous values, some selling for over $1,000 each! I believe those who are bidding them up are paying far too much and certainly more than they are truly valued at. At best, some of the rarer ones are "worth" several hundred but thousands? In fact, a patient shopper can find many Paull sheets for much less. I've acquired several of those that sold for exorbitant prices for between $10 and $20. So if you are collecting Paull works, be patient and don't get bidding fever and overpay.
As for the music, this one is in my opinion one of Paull's best. In the context of this group of songs, it represents the peak of passion and violence of a storm and the force (or forces) behind destructive weather. Though the title and cover make the work an expression of a god or person the music well illustrates the result of that god's actions.
E.T. (Edward Taylor) Paull (February 16, 1858 - November 27, 1924) Was the son of Virginia farmers and started his musical career as manager of a music store, selling pianos and organs in Martinsburg , Virginia around 1878. It is unclear as to his activities for the next 20 years but his first successful march was The Chariot Race or Ben Hur March (MIDI) in 1894. The great success of this march caused Paull to begin a steady stream of works. He started his own publishing company around this same period and continued publishing under his name till his death (at which time the company was bought and continued to publish under the same name for two years afterward). Though best known today for his marches, Paull did write other works and even wrote one piece for silent film Armenian Maid in 1919. Marches were wildly popular and though Paull was capable of composing fine works, he often obtained works by others and arranged them and released them under his banner. This work is one such work. His last work was the 1924, Spirit Of The U.S.A., copyrighted just six weeks before his death. See our in-depth biography of Paull as well as our two features on his music from July 2001 and June 1998 to learn more about this man and his music.
Listen to this great old Paull march (Scorch plug-in)
Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this piece)
Fortunately, all storms have an end when the sky clears, the sun appears and the birds begin to sing again. The usual harbinger of the hope for a better day is most often the rainbow. As such, it seems fitting to calm things down and end our stormy feature this month with the beauty and joy of the rainbow after the storm.
The music is very interesting, and pleasant. This song was written on the cusp of change from the "age of innocence" and the coming jazz age of the roaring twenties. As such it has a more sophisticated sound with more complex harmony and a melody and sound that is more grounded in what is to come than what has come before. There is an interesting tango like activity in the bass line of the verse that seems out of character for the rest of the piece. In measures three, nine, ten, thirteen and fourteen there is a little tango like expression that frankly seems out of place. At this time in our musical history, the tango was a hot fad and perhaps the composer felt that adding this little rhythm would make the song more attractive. For a little more about the tango in American music, see our May 2004 feature on music south of the border.
Oliver Wallace (1887 - 1963) was born in England and his family moved to Canada, probably sometime before 1900. He began his musical career as a pianist in Vaudeville and when a teenager, he moved to Washington state and worked for a while as pianist in theaters accompanying silent films. In 1908 he became the first theater organist at the Dream Theater in Seattle. During this period he began writing music and his first song, Hindustan became a big hit in 1913. In the 30's Wallace moved to Hollywood where he began writing scores for films at Columbia and Universal. In 1936 he joined the Disney Studio where he began writing scores for animated films. His first was for a Mickey Mouse short, Mickey's Amateurs. He wrote music at Disney till 1956 having completed over 150 scores for them. He was nominated for several Academy Awards for his work at Disney. Perhaps his most talked about work was the 1942 song, Der Fuhrer's Face, written for a Donald Duck feature, it became a huge hit in 1943. Some of the more notable works by him including his most remembered work, Der Fuhrer's Face (1942), Louisiana (1920), Hindustan (1913), Along the Way To Damascus (1919) and Victory March (1942).
Arthur Freed (1894 - 1973) Freed was born in Charleston S.C. and enjoyed one of the longest active careers as a lyricist spanning the period from around 1918 to well into the 1950's. Most of his work was done during the heyday of Hollywood musicals writing songs for the likes of Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Lucille Ball, Judy Garland and Lena Horne. Most of his work was done with Herb Nacio Brown. Arthur's brother, Ralph Freed was a notable lyricist as well who also wrote a number of hits for films during the same period. Freed grew up in Seattle where he met Oliver Wallace. Early in his career he wrote works for Gus Edwards acts and other vaudevillian performers. He served in the Army in W.W.I.
He moved to Los Angeles where he was a theater manager for a while. Bitten by the movie bug, in 1929 he began writing songs for movie musicals. Later he became a producer of musicals and his work included some of Hollywood's greatest musical hits including Babes in Arms, The Wizard of Oz, For Me And My Gal, Meet Me In St. Louis, Annie Get Your Gun and The Bells Are Ringing. In the 60's Freed was the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and appeared on several Academy Award TV specials.
Among his greatest hits are; I Cried For You (1923), Pagan Love Song (1929), Alone (1935), You Are My Lucky Star (1935), Broadway Melody (1929), Singin' In The Rain (1932) and You Were Meant for Me (1929). Freed died in Los Angeles April 12, 1973.
Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch plug-in)
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