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Ragtime Music in Canada

 

Chapter 2: Early Canadian Ragtime Personalities and their Music 

 

By Ted Tjaden

[return to Table of Contents] [go to Chapter 3]

 

There are a number of excellent biographies of the major American ragtime composers, including biographies about Scott Joplin (Berlin 1994), James Scott (DeVeaux and Kenney 1992) and other works on American rags and their composers (Blesh and Janis 1966, for example). The number of Canadian ragtime composers, however, compared to the number of American ragtime composers, is much smaller; as a result, there is relatively little in the ragtime literature on Canadian composers of ragtime music. Set out below (in alphabetical order, by surname) is brief mention of some of the more well known Canadian or Canadian resident ragtime composers and personalities:

2.1)     Ivor (Jack) Ayre
2.2)     R. Nathaniel Dett
2.3)     Willie Eckstein
2.4)     Vera Guilaroff
2.5)     May Irwin
2.6)     Jéan-Baptiste LaFrenière
2.7)     Joseph F. Lamb
2.8)     Geoffrey O'Hara
2.9)     Fred S. Stone
2.10)     Harry Thomas
2.11)     Charles E. Wellinger

 

2.1  Ivor (Jack) Ayre  (circa 1894 - 1977)     [top]

 

Photo of Jack Ayre

Ivor (Jack) Ayre
Source:
Library and Archives Canada

Recommended reading: The Virtual Grammophone, Canadian Historical Sound Recordings, "First World War Era"

Recommending listening: The Dumbells, "The Photo of the Girl I Left Behind" (Montreal, QC: Compo Company, 1924) - .MP3 (from Library and Archives Canada).

 

Jack Ayre, a pianist in Toronto at silent movie theatres, was chosen to be the pianist for "The Dumbells," a unit in the Canadian army during World War I that entertained the troops. Ayre composed the band's theme song called The Dumbell Rag (see below), which sold over 10,000 pieces of sheet music, according to Kallmann and Moogk. The Dumbells performed for troops in Europe, and after the war, they re-organized and toured (as civilians) and performed through to the 1930's.

 
Dumbell Rag Sheet Music Cover

Ivor E. Ayre. Dumbell Rag (song). S.l.: Ivor E. Ayre, 1920. 

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library Microfiche  [top]

 

2.2)  R. Nathaniel Dett (11 October 1882 ~ 2 October 1943)    [top]

 

Photo of R. Nathaniel Dett

R. Nathaniel Dett, circa 1923
Source:
NYPL Digital Library

Recommended reading: Dominique-Renede Lerma and Vivian Flagg McBrier, The Collected Piano Works of R. Nathaniel Dett (Evanston, IL: Summy-Birchard, 1973).

Anne Key Simpson, Follow Me: The Life and Music of R. Nathaniel Dett (Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1993).

Recommending listening: CD: William Grant Still, Nathanial Dett: Piano Music (Altarus, 1996).

 

Canada can claim R. Nathaniel Dett as one of her citizens, despite his moving to the United States with his family when he was 11 years old for the rest of his life. Although Dett is known primarily for his compositions of classical music and spirituals, his three earliest known compositions were in the ragtime mode (see below to download the sheet music for these three pieces):

  • After the Cake Walk (1900): Described as a "March Cake Walk" by the composer, this piece is in the key of G major with the Trio and final sections in the key of C major. It is an energetic, lightly syncopated and rhythmic piece in the ragtime march tradition.
  • Cave of the Winds (1902): This piece, which is also in the keys of G and C major, is described by McBrier (Lerma and McBrier 1973:ix) as a vigourous march using simple traditional harmony. The title refers to the "Cave of the Winds" found at Niagara Falls, the city where Dett was living at the time he composed this piece.
  • Inspiration Waltzes (1903): In the typical fashion of a romantic, Dett describes in the introduction to this piece his "inspiration" for it: "I awoke one night at midnight and heard, as in a dream, the melodies of this Waltz played over and over, until I again fell asleep. Next morning I found it was still fresh in my memory. I created the Introduction and some other parts to give the whole completeness, but the main themes were truly 'Inspirations' or, to put it more poetically were truly 'dictated' by the Muse."
  • My Agnes from Niagara (1909). This work is listed in bibliographies of Dett's compositions but I have been unable to locate a copy of it.

Dett, whose mother was Canadian, was born in Drummondville, Ontario (later incorporated into Niagara Falls, Ontario) and showed promise on the piano as a young boy and was given piano lessons. During the time he composed the three ragtime-related pieces above, Dett was an organist at a church in Niagara Falls. He later studied at the Oliver Willis Halstead Conservatory in Lockport, New York from 1901 to 1903 and then at Oberlin College (Ohio) from 1903 to 1908, where he was the first African-American to earn a Bachelor of Music degree with a major in composition and the piano. He later obtained a Master of Music degree in 1938 from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.

After the publication of his first three works above, and after attending music school, Dett's compositions took on a much more classical tone, incorporating Negro spirituals and other ethnic elements. Dett's music falls with the sphere of romanticism, with highly lyrical and thematic moods. In addition to composing, Dett spent most of his working life teaching at various music faculties in the United States and touring and performing his music (including tours to Canada and to Europe).

In 1912, he published Magnolia: Suite for Piano, followed by In the Bottoms: Characteristic Suite for the Piano (1913). In the introduction to In the Bottoms, Dett describes the piece as a suite of five numbers "giving pictures of moods or scenes peculiar to Negro life in the river bottoms of the Southern sections of North America." One of those five suites is a moderately syncopated dance entitled Juba, the sheet music to which is available below. His other major works include Enchantment: A Romantic Suite on an Original Program (1922), Cinnamon Grove: A Suite for the Piano (1928), Tropic Winter: Suite for the Piano (1938) and Eight Bible Vignettes (1941 ~ 1943).

During the latter part of his life, Dett struck up a friendship with musician Percy Grainger (composer, of among other pieces, In Dahomey: Cakewalk Smasher).

It remains unclear whether the ragtime music of Scott Joplin influenced Dett or whether Joplin himself knew of Dett, especially given Joplin's proclivity to be taken seriously as a composer. Much of the literature is silent on this point, with there being no mention of R. Nathanial Dett in either They All Played Ragtime (Blesh and Janish 1966) and That American Rag (Jasen and Jones 2000). Edward A. Berlin does mention Dett in Ragtime: A Musical and Cultural History (Berlin 1980:107) in the context of musical rhythms found in musical sources of early ragtime.

Given that Dett was driven in the early 1900's to write three ragtime-related pieces, it is reasonable to assume that he knew of Scott Joplin during his career, given the general popularity of ragtime music that spread throughout the North East at that time. Dett himself, in moving towards more classical compositions, was perhaps trying to avoid stereotyped ragtime sounds. In a note to In the Bottoms, Dett refers to the common rhythmic figure found in ragtime music as being a "frequent occurrence in the music of the ante-bellum folk-dances" with "its marked individuality" causing "it to be much misused for purposes of caricature."

Simpson (1993:11) describes Dett's "shame" when being exposed to Dvorak's incorporation of Negro and Indian musical heritages into his music when "the naive young Dett revealed embarrassment that musically his race was identified only with the current and frivolous ragtime style." Simpson later notes, however, that later on, "while a student at Oberlin College, Dett fortunately developed a broader, more cheerful perspective of the larger Negro idiom" but even as late as 1918 Simpson notes (1993:12) that Dett commented on the attitude of a majority of the black race in an interview carried by Musical America:

The Negro people as a whole cannot be looked to as a very great aid in the work of conserving their folk music. At the present time they are inclined to regard it as a vestige of the slavery they are trying to put behind them and to be ashamed of it. Moreover, the prevailing manner of presenting Negro music to the public - the "coon" song of vaudeville or the minstrel show - has not tended to increase appreciation of it, either among the Negro or white races.

However, it is less certain whether Joplin knew of Dett and his music. The possibility exists that perhaps he did not, given the regional differences that "served as barriers to a shared culture" and that affirmed "the existence of diverse experiences within the African American community in the United States" at that time (Curtis 1994:188). Since Dett's classical compositions came towards the end of Joplin's life, and given the state of communications in those days, it is entirely possible that Joplin died, dreaming of his own classical ambitions with the publication of his opera Treemonisha without knowing of the classical publications of R. Nathaniel Dett.

A more detailed analysis of Dett's life and his (classical) music is provided by Simpson (1993).

Dett died of a heart attack on October 2, 1943, but his legacy lives on in Canada through The Nathaniel Dett Chorale, described on their website as "Canada's first professional choral group dedicated to Afrocentric music of all styles including classical, spiritual, gospel, jazz, folk and blues."

Dett clearly deserves to be better known by listeners. The CD by pianist Denver Oldham contains excellent renditions of Dett's music, including the three early ragtime-related pieces.

Select Compositions of R. Nathaniel Dett

 

 Picture of R. Nathaniel Dett

Nathaniel Dett. After the Cake Walk (Toronto, ON: Whaley, Royce & Co., 1900).

[view sheet music]

Source: Copy obtained from the Toronto Reference Library  [top]

 Picture of R. Nathaniel Dett

Nathaniel Dett. Cave of the Winds (Niagara Falls, NY: S.C. Fagard, 1902).

[view sheet music]

Source: Library and Archives Canada   [top]

Juba Sheet Music Cover
Nathaniel Dett. Juba (from the suite In the Bottoms for the piano) (1913).

[view sheet music]

Source: National Library of Australia Digital Collections   [top]

 

2.3)  Willie Eckstein  (6 December 1988 ~ 23 September 1963)     [top]

 

Photo of Willie Eckstein

Image source:
Collections Canada

Turkey in the Straw Sheet Music Cover

Image source:
Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

Recommended reading: Jack Hutton, "Willie Eckstein: This Ragtime Kid Charmed Paderewski While Earning $15,000 a Year" (November-December 1985) The Ragtimer

Library and Archives Canada, The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings, "Willie Eckstein, Pianist and Composer (1888-1963)"

 

Recommending listening: Willie Eckstein, Turkey in the Straw (Lachine, QC: Compo Company Limited, 1923) - .MP3 (from Library and Archives Canada). Other Eckstein recordings (not ragtime) are available here.

Left: Download a version of the sheet music for Turkey in the Straw similar to the version played by Eckstein.

 

Willie Eckstein, also known as Billie Eckstein, was born to European immigrants in Pointe St. Charles, a predominantly Irish, working-class district of Montreal, one of 14 children (Gilmore 1988:25). According to Hutton (1985), Eckstein began playing at age 3, and at age12, he won a scholarship to study music at McGill University. He also studied in Europe, and after returning from Europe was "headhunted" while playing at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario, and went on a very successful North American tour. On tour, he was billed as "The Boy Paderewski" since he was only 4 ft., 9 in. tall and wore a Fauntleroy suit to give the impression he was younger than he was:

 

Photo of Willie Eckstein from Cover of Sheet Music for "Floating Along"

Left: Photo of Willie Eckstein in his "costume" (taken from the sheet music cover to Floating Along.

 

According to Hutton (1985), Eckstein was earning $15,000 per year while on tour (a lot in those days) but when he grew too old, the novelty of the "act" wore off and he returned home to Montreal. In Montreal, he was the resident pianist at the Strand's Theatre, where he was billed as "The World's Foremost Motion Picture Interpreter" (Gilmore 1988: 17). Apparently, fans would come to the movie theatre primarily to listen to him, not necessarily to watch the movies. One of his protégés was Harry Thomas, discussed below and he also played with Vera Guilaroff, also discussed below.

Eckstein, along with Harry Thomas, composed the Delirious Rag and the Perpetual Rag, the sheet music for which I have been unable to track down.

Eckstein was the first person to record Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag as a piano solo (1923). According to Hutton (1985), Eckstein was admired by Teddy Roosevelt and Eubie Blake described Eckstein as "one of the best I ever heard."

After "talking" moving pictures arrived, Eckstein retired from the movie theatre and played piano at the Chateau Ste. Rose in Montreal for 20 years as "Mr. Fingers" (Hutton 1985). Eckstein continued to play piano until age 73, but was forced to retire when he broke his arm. In May 1963 at an evening tribute in his honour, Eckstein collapsed into a coma after the ceremony, never to recover (he died several months later).


Selected Compositions of Willie Eckstein

Eckstein, Willie. Beautiful Thoughts. 1916.

 

Eckstein, Willie and Harry Thomas. Delirious Rag: One Step. 1917.

Eckstein, Willie. Down in the Meadows where the Daisies Grow (words by A.C. Guerin). Montreal: Delmar Music Co., 1910.

Source:  National Library of Québec

 In Sunny Summertime Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein. In Sunny Summertime (words by T.H. Yull). Montreal, QC: The International Music Co., 1911.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

 Good-bye Soldier Boy Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein and Harry Thomas. Good-bye Soldier Boy (words by Walter Bruce). Montreal, QC: Delmar Co., 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

 Good-Bye, Sunshine Hello Moon! Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein and Gene Buck. Good-Bye, Sunshine Hello Moon! New York, NY: T.B. Harms & Francis, Day & Hunter, 1919.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

Eckstein, Willie and Harry Thomas. Perpetual Rag. 1917.

 

S'Nice Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein and Sam Howard. S'Nice. Montreal, QC: Sam Howard Music Pub. Co., 1923.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

Eckstein, Willie. Royal Highlanders March & 2 Step. 1910.

Some Rag Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein. Some Rag: A Real Live One. Montreal, PQ: Delmar Music, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Trail O'Dreams Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein (lyrics). Music by Armand Meerte. Trail O'Dreams. Montréal, QC: W. Eckstein, 1921.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Toronto Music Library   [top]

Valse de Luze Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein. Valse de Luxe. Montreal, PQ: Delmar Music, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Toronto Music Library   [top]

You Are My All in All Sheet Music Cover

Willie Eckstein, Harry Thomas and Walter Bruce. You Are My All in All (song). Montreal, QC: Delmar Co., 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source: University of Toronto Music Library   [top]

Picture of Willie Eckstein

Willie Eckstein. Won't You Meet Me at Murray's Fox-Trot (song). Montreal, PQ: Murray's Lunch Ltd., 1929.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

 

Additional compositions by Willie Eckstein

I am currently trying to obtain copies of the following pieces composed by Eckstein:

  • Willie Eckstein. Beautiful Thoughts: A Reverie. Montreal, QC: Cowan & Eckstein Pub. Co., 1916.
  • Willie Eckstein. Down in the Meadows Where the Daisies Grow (words by A.C. Guerin). Montreal, QC: Delmar Music Co., 1910.
  • Willie Eckstein. Sunshine Trail (song). Montreal, QC: William Eckstein, 1920.

 

2.4) Vera Guilaroff  (26 October 1902 ~ 213 October 1976)    [top]

 

Digital scan of Apex 78 Record of Vera Guilaroff's rendition of Maple Leaf Rag

Recommended reading: John Gilmore, "Chapter 1: Pre-History to 1925" in Swinging in Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal (Montreal, QC: Vehicule Press, 1988) 17-41.

Recommending listening: Vera Guilaroff, Maple Leaf Rag (Lachine, QC: Compo Company Limited, 1926) - .MP3 (from Library and Archives Canada).

 

Vera Guilaroff, although born in England, immigrated to Montreal with her family as a young child, where she studied piano. As a teenager, she played at the Regent Theatre in Montreal, substituting for Harry Thomas when he could not play and eventually replacing him when Thomas moved to Halifax.

She later toured the United States with a band, returned to Montreal and worked with Eckstein on radio and in nightclubs. She also toured Europe and the Bahmas and performed on TV and composed several songs, some of which are listed below (not rags).

More details of her life are set out in the entry for her in the online Encyclopedia of Music in Canada.

Her recording of Scott Joplin's Maple Leaf Rag is amazing and shows lots of improvisation; the breakneck speed at which she plays it is breathtaking and must have been speeded up as part of the recording process.

A partial listing of compositions by Guilaroff include the following pieces:

  • (with William Harold Moon) Do You Want Any Love Today (song). Toronto, ON: North American Music Ltd., 1946.
  • If Only You Knew (song). Montreal, QC: Woods Music Co., 1921.
  • Lonesome Rose (words by Sam Howard and Willie Eckstein). Montreal, QC: Sam Howard, 1923.

 

2.5)  May Irwin (1862 ~ 1938)    [top]

 

Picture of May Irwin, circa 1910

Image Source:
Library and Archives Canada

Recommended reading: Library and Archives Canada, The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings, "May Irwin, Actor, Comedienne and Singer (1862-1938)"

Recommending listening: May Irwin singing "Mat-ri-mony" (.MP3) (lyrics and music by William J. McKenna). Source: Library and Archives Canada.

 

May Irwin was born in Whitby, Ontario, but gained her fame on the New York stage as a vaudevillian comedienne and singer of "coon" songs that apparently were regarded as comical during that era but what can now only be regarded as offensive. One of her more famous songs was apparently May Irwin's Bully Song, not shown here due to its content and artwork. A number of her songs can be found through the Sheet Music Consortium. An example of one of her comic songs is May Irwin's Frog Song, set out below.

 

May Irwin's Frog Song Sheet Music Cover

Charles E. Trevathan. May Irwin's Frog Song (Boston, MA: White-Smith, 1896).

 

She is also famous as being one of the first persons ever filmed in a movie kiss in the movie The Kiss.

She was known to have spent time at a summer home in Canada near the Thousand Islands on the St. Lawrence and become a wealthy women as a result of her performances and investments. She died in New York City on October 22, 1938.

Her Wikipedia entry is here.

 

2.6)  Jéan-Baptiste LaFrenière  (23 June 1874 ~ 4 January 1912)     [top]

 

Photo of Jéan-Baptiste LaFrenière

Recommended reading: Plante, Clément, ed. 1994 Jéan-Baptiste Lafrenière (1874-1912): Rags & Two Steps. Montreal, QC: Fondation ragtime du Québec.

Recommending listening: CD: Mimi Blais, Made in Quebéc: Music of Jéan-Baptiste Lafrenière (Montreal, QC: Orange Music, 2002)

 

Jéan-Baptiste Lafrenière, described as the national Strauss of Canada, was born in 1874 in Maskinongé, Quebec. According to Plante (1994) Lafrenière spent most of his youth in Montreal and Louiseville where he studied piano, organ, violin, cornet, and music theory at the College St-Joseph de Berthier (1887-1892). Gilmore (1988:25) suggests that Lafrenière was the first person known to have performed ragtime in Montreal.

Lafrenière was a relatively prolific composer of a number of rags, marches, waltzes and other piano instrumentals.

According to Plante (1994), Lafrenière contracted tuberculosis in 1911 and was forced to subsist on the slender income earned from his music publications and he died January 4, 1912, at age 37 leaving behind a widow (Victoria Danis) and two young children. He is buried in the Côte-des-Neiges cemetery in Montreal.

Mimi Blais has recorded a CD of Lafrenière songs.

To view all 44 compositions by Lafrenière, see the separate essay on this website called "Ragtime in Quebec" (this essay also includes a listing of over 140 ragtime-era compositions by composers other than Lafrenière that were published in Quebec, with over 100 of these having the sheet music available for free).

 

2.7) Joseph F. Lamb (6 December 1887 ~ 3 September 1960)    [top]

 

Portrait of Joseph Lamb

Recommended reading: Ragtime Press, A Little Lost Lamb: Piano Music By Joseph F. Lamb (Oak Forest, IL: Ragtime Press, 2005) [folio of previously unpublished ragtime pieces by Joseph F. Lamb]

Recommending listening: Guido Nielson, The Complete Stark Rags of Joseph F. Lamb (Aalsmeerderweg, The Netherlands: Basta Records, 1999)

 

Although Joseph Lamb was born in New Jersey, it is possible for Canada to claim him as one of her very important residents based on his connections here on two separate occasions:

  • As a young man, Lamb was sent to school in Kitchener, Ontario, (then known as Berlin, Ontario, prior to World War I). While in Canada, it appears that he wrote a number of ragtime songs and waltzes. According to Morriss (1959), in 1907, Lamb  walked into the offices of H.H. Sparks in Toronto and sold Celestine Waltzes for $5, since according to Lamb, "[h]e generally sold his compositions for anything between $25 and $50 because he wanted to see them in print" Most of these early pieces by Lamb are rare and hard to locate; for a listing of these pieces, see the separate page on this website entitled "Joseph Lamb: Ragtime's Quiet Sensation."
  • As part of the overall "ragtime revival" in North America, and due to the efforts of Blesh and Janis (1966) to track down and interview Lamb, Joseph Lamb was brought to Toronto by Ragtime Bob Darch and others for a tribute in October 1959 at Club 76 where Lamb was prevailed upon to play several of his rags, one of his very few public performances.

For more on Joseph Lamb, see the separate page on this website entitled "Joseph Lamb: Ragtime's Quiet Sensation."

 

2.8) Geoffrey O'Hara (2 February 1882 ~ 31 January 1966)    [top]

 

Photo of Geoffrey O'Hara

Source:
Library and Archives Canada

Recommended reading: Library and Archives Canada, The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings, "Geoffrey O'Hara, Composer, Singer and Lecturer (1882-1967)"

Recommending listening: Geoffrey O'Hara singing the Canadian wartime patriotic song Doughboy Jack and Doughnut Jill (by Gitz Rice), with Willie Eckstein on piano (Montreal, QC: Berliner Gram-O-Phone Co., 1919) - .MP3 (from Library and Archives Canada).

 

The article from The Virtual Gramophone: Canadian Historical Sound Recordings entitled "Geoffrey O'Hara, Composer, Singer and Lecturer (1882-1967)" accurately describes three major aspects of O'Hara's professional life: composer, singer and lecturer. Born in Chatham, Ontario, nine years after Fred S. Stone (see below on Stone), O'Hara played piano as a child and wrote ragtime compositions in his early twenties, sometimes using the name "Geofrrey de Vere". A list of some of his ragtime-related compositions are below, including his compositions available online and his compositions available in print (these lists are of course partial since he apparently wrote over 500 songs). According to the entry for him in the online Encyclopedia of Music in Canada he joined Lew Dockstader's Minstrels and went on to sing light opera as a baritone at Daly's Theater in New York. Later O'Hara travelled the Lyceum and Chautauqua vaudeville circuits as a singer, lecturer, and community song leader. Apparently, he wrote two of his hit songs — "Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride" (1917) (below) and "K-K-K-Katy" (1918) (below)  —  while he was visiting in Kingston, Ontario.

Selected Geoffrey O'Hara Compositions from the Ragtime Era

Aw Sammie! Sheet Music Cover

Geoffrey O'Hara. Aw Sammie! (words by H. Sanborn). New York, NY: Leo Feist, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: The E. Azalia Hackley Collecttion, Detroit Public Library

First Page of Sheet Music for Colored Fireworks March and two Step Sheet Music Cover

Geoffrey O'Hara (under the name Geoffrey De Vere). Colored Fireworks: March and Two Step. Toronto, ON: Canadian-American Music Co., 1904.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from the Toronto Reference Library  [top]

Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride Sheet Music Cover
 

Geoffrey O'Hara. Give a Man a Horse He Can Ride. New York, NY: Huntzinger & Dilworth, 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source: Duke University, Digital Collections  [top]

I Love You For Yourself Alone Sheet Music Cover
 

Geoffrey O'Hara. I Love You For Yourself Alone (lyrics by Geo. A. Norton). New York, NY: New York Music Publishing House, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Maine Music Box  [top]

K-K-K Katy (The Stammering Song) Sheet Music Cover
 

Geoffrey O'Hara. K-K-K-Katy (The Stammering Song). New York: NY: Leo Feist, 1918.

[view sheet music]

Source: Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection   [top]


The Perfect Melody Sheet Music Cover

Geoffrey O'Hara. The Perfect Melody. Toronto, ON: Chappell & Co., 1917.

[view sheet music]

Source: National Library of Australia Digital Collections   [top]

The Wreck of the "Julie Plante" Sheet Music Cover

Geoffrey O'Hara. The Wreck of the "Julie Plante" (words by William Henry Drummond). Boston, MA: Oliver Ditson, 1920.

[view sheet music]

Source: The Maine Music Box  [top]

Your Eyes Have Told Me Sheet Music Cover
 

Geoffrey O'Hara. Your Eyes Have Told Me (words by Frederick G. Bowles). New York, NY: G. Ricordi, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

Additional pieces by O'Hara that I am trying to obtain include:

  • Geoffrey O'Hara. The Perfect Melody. Toronto, ON: Chappell & Co., 1917.
  • Geoffrey O'Hara (under the name Geoffrey De Vere). The Virginia March. Toronto, ON: Nordheimer Piano & Music Co., 1904.

 

2.9)  Fred S. Stone  (1873 ~ 1912)    [top]

Fred S. Stone was a relatively prolific composer of ragtime music. I have been playing his Silks and Rags Waltz (1901) (below) for a number of years now without realizing that Stone was born in Chatham, Ontario (nine years before Geoffrey O'Hara, discussed above). The fact of his Canadian birth is not well known since the (relatively few) references to him in the ragtime literature is as an "African-American" composer.

Blesh and Janis (1966:104-05) provide some basic information on Fred S. Stone regarding his early rags and his involvement in Detroit as a bandleader:

The remarkable Stone inherited the musical leadership of Detroit from the equally remarkable "Old Man" Theo Finney. The latter had started a music business in the Michigan city during the Civil War, and from that beginning had built up a formidable musical dynasty. Finney's - and then Stone's - orchestras monopolized the Detroit Entertainment and social world to the almost complete exclusion of white performers.

Blesh and Janis (1966:104-05) also describe Stone's efforts in unionizing musicians in Detroit:

. . . Fred S. Stone and his stalwart colleagues . . . unionized the Detroit musicians and built the fine headquarters and club that are still in use. It was the white players who had to petition for admission to the union, apparently the only local in the country where this was the case.

Jasen and Jones (2000:320) give 1912 as the date that Stone died; however, Blesh and Janis (1966:105) state that "Fred S. Stone died in the middle 1930's."

Editorial note: The Ragtime Ephemeralist has an article on Fred S. Stone and Harry Guy by Nancy Bostick and Arthur LaBrew that I am trying to obtain. Once I do, I will update more information on Fred. S. Stone.

 

Select Compositions by Fred S. Stone (in chronological order)

The Indian: Two Step Sheet Music cover

Fred S. Stone. The Indian: Two Step. Central Music Publishing, 1895.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection [top]

La Albacete: Spanish Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. La Albacete: Spanish Waltzes. Detroit, MI: Detroit Music Co., 1896.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Mackinac March: Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Mackinac March: Two Step. Detroit, MI: Detroit Music Co., 1896.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

The Cardinal March Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. The Cardinal March. New York, NY: Marquette Pub. Co., 1898.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library of Congress Sheet Music Collection (Music, Theatre and Dance)   [top]

Ma Rag Time Baby: Two-Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Ma Rag Time Baby: Two-Step. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1898.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection [top]

A Lady of Quality: Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. A Lady of Quality: Waltzes. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1898.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

The Bos'n Rag: Cake Walk Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. The Bos'n Rag: Cake Walk. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1899.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Elseeta: March and Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Elseeta: March and Two Step. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1900.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Silk and Rags: Waltzes Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Silk and Rags: Waltzes. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1901.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Sue: March and Two-Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Sue: March and Two-Step. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1902.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Belle of the Philippines: March-Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Belle of the Philippines: March-Two Step. Detroit, MI: Whitney Warner Pub. Co., 1903.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Belinda March and Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Belinda: March Two Step. New York, NY: Jerome H. Remick, 1905.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

Melody at Twilight Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Melody at Twilight. New York, NY: Jerome Remick & Co., 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection  [top]

Stone's Barn Dance Sheet Music Cover

Fred S. Stone. Stone's Barn Dance. New York, NY: Jerome H. Remick, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Detroit Public Library, E. Azalia Hackley Collection  [top]

 

2.10)  Harry Thomas (24 March 1890 ~ 11 July 1941)    [top]

 

Portrait of Harry Thomas

Image source:
Library and Archives Canada

Recommended reading: John Gilmore, "Chapter 1: Pre-History to 1925" in Swinging in Paradise: The Story of Jazz in Montreal (Montreal, QC: Vehicule Press, 1988) 17-41.

Recommending listening: Harry Thomas, A Classical Spasm (Camden, NJ: Victor, 1917) - .MP3 (from Library and Archives Canada). Other Harry Thomas recordings (not ragtime) are available here.

 

Harry Thomas was borm Reginald Thomas Broughton in Bristol England but immigrated to Montreal, Canada, when he was 19 years old (Gilmore 1989: 280). Apparently, Thomas had no formal musical training and was self-taught but "studied" under Willie Eckstein and would play at the Strand Theatre in Eckstein's absence:

The two men, though dissimilar in temperament and musical training, shared a fondness for two pleasures - liquor and improvisation. Both pianists could spontaneously weave snippets of melody from popular songs and classical masterpieces into an engaging and often humourous musical commentary on the events silently unfolding on the theatre screen (Gilmore 1988: 17).

In the fall of 1916, Harry Thomas went to Chicago to record piano rolls for Q.R.S. Company and then on to New York to record Delirious Rag and Perpetual Rag for Metro-Art and Universal (Gilmore 1988: 17). Later that year, returned to New York to record for Victor Talking Machine a 78 rpm with Delirious Rag on one side and A Classical Spasm on the other side, also manufactured in Montreal by the Berliner Gramophone Company (see above for his recording of A Classical Spasm). These recordings, according to Gilmore (1989:281) made Thomas the first musician resident in Canada to record ragtime.

At around this time, Thomas became the pianist at the Regent Theatre in Montreal, with Vera Guilaroff as his substitute starting when she was as young as age 12. After 3 years pf this, Thomas moved to Halifax and Guilaroff took over his piano duties at the Regent Theatre. While in Halifax, Hutton (1985) suggests that Thomas was somewhat of a celebrity, driving a very noticeable 1923 Graham-Paige roadster "that seemed to be half a block long, with gaudy upholstery and a dinky little rumble seat"

In the 1920s, with the arrival of talking motion pictures, Thomas found himself without work and returned to Montreal, but his career did not survive:

Before long, Harry Thomas was playing only in the third-rate Montreal clubs - and often only for free booze and the occasional tip. On July 11, 1941, only 51 years old, he dided broke in a Montreal hospital from an infection induced by alcoholism. There were only four people at his funeral: his landlady, a musician from his former trio, the husband of another pianist - and the ever-faithful Willie Eckstein. (Hutton 1985)

According to Hutton (1985), Thomas died in poverty om 1941 and was buried in a Montreal cemetry, Cote des Neige Cemetry, but the wooden stake marking his grave was later removed for non-payment of fees. Eckstein was one of the few mourners at his funeral.

Selected Harry Thomas Compositions

I Want You Sheet Music Cover

Thomas, Harry. I Want You (words by Walter Bruce). Montreal, QC: Delmar Music, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy from the Toronto Reference Library Microfiche  [top]

 Picture of Harry Thomas

Thomas, Harry. Rag Tags Rag. Montreal, QC: Delmar Music, 1909.

[view sheet music]

 

I am also looking for the following composition by Harry Thomas:

  • Harry Thomas. I Live My Life for You (song). Montreal, QC: International Music, 1911.

 

2.11)   Charles E. Wellinger (b Ottawa ca 1888, d England ca 1943) [top]

 

Waltz Me Kid Sheet Music Cover by Charles Wellinger

Recommended reading: Arpin, John. "Charles Wellinger" (April 1967) 6 The Ragtimer 10.

 

There is very little information about Charles Wellinger other than a brief paragraph about him in the entry for "ragtime" in the online Encyclopedia of Music in Canada. From that entry we learn that he was born in Ottawa, Canada, in 1888 and died in England in 1943. We know from the music he composed, both his music available online (below) and his music available in print (below), that a number of his earlier pieces for piano and voice were published with H.H. Sparks in Toronto circa 1905~1907 and that a number of other pieces were self-published by him in Hamilton, Ontario, circa 1913~1920 with another piece, Intermission Rag, published in Chicago, Illinois, in 1919.

The entry in the Encyclopedia of Music in Canada suggests that he worked with I.W. Lomas at the opera house in Hamilton and probably with Lomas' Royal Connaught Winter Garden Dance Orchestra. He wrote and published several songs, waltzes, and rags. The Encyclopedia also suggests that his piece, That Captivating Rag (1914), is his most popular piece.

Selected Compositions by Charles Wellinger

Come with Me for a Roller Skate: The Roller Skating Song Craze Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Come with Me for a Roller Skate: The Roller Skating Song Craze. Toronto, ON: H.H. Sparks, 1907.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library and Archives Canada  [top]

First Page of Sheet Music for Hamilton Centennial March and Two Step Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Hamilton Centennial: March & Two Step. Hamilton, ON: C. Wellinger, 1913.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library  [top]

Intermission Rag Sheet Music Cover

Intermission Rag. Charles Wellinger. Chicago, IL: Roger Graham, 1916.

[view sheet music]

Source: Photocopy obtained from the Howard B. Waltz Music Library (Universty of Colorado)  [top]

Molly Ann O'Shea Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Molly Ann O'Shea (song). Toronto, ON: H.H. Sparks, 1905.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library Microfiche  [top]

Rosebud Waltz Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Rosebud Waltz. Hamilton, ON: C. Wellinger, 1920.

[view sheet music]

Source: Toronto Reference Library Microfiche  [top]

Twilight Dreams: Reverie Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Twilight Dreams: Reverie (arr. by Jos. F. Lamb). Toronto : H.H. Sparks, 1908.

[view sheet music]

Source: Personal copy   [top]

Waltz Me Kid Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. Waltz Me Kid. Ottawa, ON: C.W. Vinson, 1910.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library and Archives Canada  [top]

When You Dream, Dream, Dream: Waltz Song Hit Sheet Music Cover

Charles Wellinger. When You Dream, Dream, Dream: Waltz Song Hit. Toronto, ON: H.H. Sparks, 1906.

[view sheet music]

Source: Library and Archives Canada  [top]

 

Additional compositions by Charles Wellinger:

I am looking to obtain copies of the following additional compositions by Wellinger; when I do, I will digitize them and add them to the table above.

  • Dance of the Rosebuds: A Floral Tribute. Toronto, ON: H.H. Sparks, 1905.
  • Flower Fancies: A Dainty. Toronto, ON: Harry H. Sparks, 1906.
  • Playtime: Scherzo for Piano. Toronto, ON: Whaley, Royce, 1907.
  • The Song You Sang at Twilight. Toronto, ON: H.H. Sparks, 1907.
  • Never Forgotten: Waltzes. Toronto, ON: Harry H. Sparks, 1910.
  • Sweetheart Waltz. Boston, MA: International Music, 1911 (page 1 of this piece is available here from an advertisement)
  • (with E.B. Eddy ) Caressante: Waltzes. Ottawa, ON: The Northern Music Co., 1912.
  • Night of the Ball: Waltz. Hamilton, ON: C. Wellinger, 1913.
  • That Captivating Rag. Hamilton, ON: C. Wellinger, 1914.
  • Ireland and You: Song. Hamilton, ON: C. Wellinger, 1915.
  • Clover Club. Hamilton, ON: Stanley Mills, 1918.

 


In the next chapter, I discuss Canadian ragtime publishers and record producers.

 [return to Table of Contents] [continue to Chapter 3] [top]

 

 
 

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This site created by Ted Tjaden. Page last updated: September 09, 2012.