Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan). Archives, Labels (tags), and other links appear at the bottom of the page.

Monday, March 30, 2015

1924: Classical Music on the Montana Frontier

Classically trained in Vienna, violinist / music teacher Gustave Foret attempted to start a music club in Baker, Montana, in 1924. It was announced in The Fallon County Times on January 10th:


But on January 31st, this unfortunate announcement was made:


Nevertheless, as Gustave stated, the show must go on. The program for an upcoming classical concert featuring Baker's own talent was published in The Fallon County Times on February 14, 1924:


Reader, have you met me? I'm not a big fan of classical music. In college, I met my Humanities requirement with a 3-credit class called History of Rock & Roll. In my 40s, I once dumped a well-educated, well-employed professional guy I was dating because he said anyone who liked rock & roll was immature. Yeah? So be it, then! I rock on! Never too old to rock & roll!

But, sadly for the folks who dwelt in the 1920s, I hear there was some roaring, but there was no rockin' and rollin' goin' on yet. And in any case, Gustave Foret would not have had R&R in his musical kit-bag, coming as he did from the Conservatory of Vienna. So, classical it is, I guess, if opera is considered classical. Is it? Well, whatever. We're droppin' some culture on you this evening!

After an unidentified selection by the Forde Orchestra, the Baker School Girls were first up with Street Boys Chorus from the opera Carmen. I hope they had as much fun with it as this group obviously did:


I suspect Gustave of being more staid, though. If he was, the Baker performance probably resembled this one, where there was really only one girl having fun with it. See if you can spot her:


Next we have the Duett of Micaela and Don Jose from Act I of Carmen. If you'd like to know the backstory, click through to this synopsis of Carmen, and if you're still not sure about that Don Jose guy, Dr. Opera will tell you a thing or two about his dubious charms. In any case, be reminded we're in Baker at a concert, not a fully-staged opera, and our dear Mel Schneider is merely singing the part.


Would there be any point in coming to a concert staged by a violin virtuoso if he wasn't going to fiddle us a tune? Mr. Foret selected a piece originally written especially for the violin, Charles de Beriot's Scene de Ballet. Reader, this is as close as we'll ever get to that Baker concert, because surely Gustave Foret's performance, accompanied by Lucille Wolters on the piano, was just like this one:


Are we having fun yet? Well, this party is just beginning. With apologies to Mrs. Leon LaCross--I'm pretty sure the Lake Theatre didn't have a fake ficus--I chose this from several possible versions of My Heart at Thy Sweet Voice in the interest of keeping in the small-theatre-on-the-frontier spirit. And because it was the most fun you can have with Mon Coeur S'ouvre a ta Voix.


Our choices for a live performance of Krakovienne Fantastique were considerably more limited, i.e., to this one, which is very nicely performed in any case.


I couldn't find a live performance of James Carroll Bartlett's A Dream, but I had two good recorded choices. The first, made in 1920 by heartthrob Enrico Caruso, sounds pretty good despite his supposedly having a head cold at the time, and if nothing else, is in keeping timewise with the era of our concert tonight.


As an alternative, this 1950 recording by Jan Peerce has much better sound, and besides, what a charming sheet music cover to gaze at:


Musetta's Waltz from La Boheme, it turns out, is much more fun with the lyrics translated! And don't be distracted by the gorgeous dress! After all, Mrs. Jesse Hayes was probably wearing something a little more frontiersy... or maybe not!


I don't know why we wouldn't end on that happy, humble note, but Mrs. LaCross is up again with  Habanera from Carmen, and since Puccini has increased my previously low interest in opera with something I can sink my teeth into (Thank you, translator!), I'm going to give Bizet another chance... or two, as it happens, since I'm not sure how Mrs. LaCross would have envisioned playing this. Reader, have you ever had Habanero Pepper Jelly? So hot! So sweet! So hot! But I digress. On the one hand, concertwise, we have:


I must admit, I have a little case of the giggles going, although I am now given to understand that Carmen is apparently not a comedy. Misogynist meets sociopath, according to Dr. Opera, and it doesn't end well. But again I digress. We are considering how Mrs. Leon LaCross might have imagined herself in the role of the sociopath... um, I mean Carmen. Do you suppose we nailed it the first time or shall we consider our on-the-other-hand version? Let me just hasten to say that any possible nipple-sightings are not my fault! Cleavage lovers, this one's for you!


Well, either way, I'm sure Mrs. LaCross brought the house down, and whatever the Forde Orchestra played after that was, without a doubt, anticlimactic!


Saturday, March 28, 2015

April 28, 1922: Treble Clef Concert

I expect to finish my current book project, News: A Krentz & Buss Family Album, within the next few days. The book is a collection of news stories about family members from the old weeklies of three places where my dad's side of the family had a strong presence in the early decades of the 1900s. I've been proofreading, a laborious chore which requires me to stop getting sucked into the news stories and keep my eye on spelling and punctuation while still paying enough attention to the content to know whether words have been accidentally omitted or in some other way messed up enough to reduce a sentence to gibberish. Maintaining that kind of focus is particularly difficult in the third section of the book because stories from The Fallon County Times were elaborately detailed and thus very entertaining and/or informative. I keep pausing to pat myself on the back for how great this book has turned out, and to wish I could step back in time to thank Karl Pleissner, then owner of The Fallon County Times, and its editor, Frank J. Mains, for the richness of the micro-history they preserved.

I really enjoyed researching the music performed at some meetings and events of the Baker Woman's Club--hence my last few posts--and today I'm going to do my best to stage a whole concert, the program of which appeared in the newspaper and is reproduced on this page in the News book:


In some cases, YouTube has several versions of a song. My intention is to select a version that seems like it might be the best representation of a 1922 performance.

The first selection is actually Where (not When) My Caravan Has Rested. I chose Rosa Ponselle's recording because the Treble Clef choir consisted of female voices, and all other recordings on YouTube were male performances. According to Wikipedia, Rosa Ponselle was an American operatic soprano with a large, opulent voice. She sang mainly at the New York Metropolitan Opera and is generally considered by music critics to have been one of the greatest sopranos of the past 100 years.


Modern-day listeners might prefer this later 1940s version by the silky-voiced Bing Crosby and Jascha Heifetz. I admit the sound is better and the lyrics much clearer:


There was only one version of De Coppah Moon available, but it's quite nice. The crickets are from 2009, but the original recording of the song was from 1922, and thus very timely:



Tally Ho!, described as a hunting song, is listed in the program with the name Petrie, and I was unable to learn anything about anyone named Petrie. It appears the song was actually written by Italian opera composer Franco Leoni. It's possible there was a different song of the same name written by someone named Petrie, or perhaps this song was recorded or arranged by someone named Petrie. In any case, we're going to enjoy this version, and because you'll once again have a hard time understanding the words, the lyrics follow. Happily, our songster abets the fox!


And the lyrics:

 
I was unable to learn anything at all about I'd Like to Go Down South except that, at some point, it seems to have been recorded by the Vaughan Quartet, according to Country Music Records: A Discography, 1921-1942 by Tony Russell and Bob Pinson (Oxford University Press, 2004).

In the spirit of our concert, which was held in the Congregational Church, I like this performance of A Spirit Flower:


Wikipedia has these interesting remarks about Campbell-Tipton:
Louis Campbell-Tipton (1877–1921) was an American composer; a native of Chicago, Illinois, he was resident in Paris from 1901. He felt that the prospects for performance of large-scale American works in the United States were bleak, and claimed that he had never wished to sacrifice the energy needed to complete a large work. Even so, at his death a number of pieces for orchestra were found among his manuscripts, as were two operas. During his life he was known mainly for his chamber music; he also taught theory for a time in Chicago. One of his songs, "A Spirit Flower", was recorded by the Swedish tenor Jussi Bjorling.
I was unable to find either sheet music or a recording of Indian Mountain Song by Charles Wakefield Cadman. Wikipedia has this, in part, to say about him:
     In 1908 Cadman was appointed the music editor and critic of the Pittsburgh Dispatch. He was greatly influenced by American Indian music and went to Nebraska to make cylinder recordings of tribal melodies for the Smithsonian Institution. He lived with the Omaha and Winnebago tribes on their reservations, learning to play their instruments. He used elements of traditional music in the form of his compositions of 19th-century romantic music.
     Publishing several articles on American Indian music, Cadman was regarded as one of the foremost experts on the subject. He toured both the States and Europe giving his then-celebrated "Indian Talk". But his involvement with the so-called Indianist movement in American music contributed to some critics failing to judge his works on their own merits.
You'll find other music by Cadman on YouTube if you're interested. Meanwhile, let's move on.

Love's Benediction seems to be a closely guarded secret as far as the interwebs are concerned. I can tell you that it was an old Irish tune, the sheet music for which was published in 1916 by J. Fischer and Brother of New York. Transcription of the tune was by James P. Dunn, with lyrics by Philip Edwards. The arrangement was by Alfred J. Silver. If you simply must have it, you can snag the single used copy that's for sale at AbeBooks.com for $14 plus $4.50 shipping. There seems to be no performance of it on YouTube.


Next up in our concert are Messrs. Johnson and Forde, whose first selection, according to the program, is Duet from Norma. I was unable to find a performance by two gentlemen and, as I'm neither an expert on Bellini nor a fan of opera, I'm not going to make an idiot of myself by guessing whether any of the Norma duets on YouTube would be appropriate for our purposes.

Their second selection, Paul de Ville's Swiss Boy, doesn't seem to be on YouTube at all, although I did find a music book by Paul de Ville online. It's an instruction book about how to play the concertina, and it includes this Swiss Boy sheet music which I hereby present in its entirety:


Mrs. Leon LaCross sang at many functions in Baker. I'm sure her performance was every bit as charming as this one, even though she was playing to a much smaller house!


The lyrics for Il Bacio appear here in both Italian and English.

From Musical America, September 16, 1916, page 16:
     Four melodious songs, written with facility and naturalness, are Ralph Cox's Down in Derry, The End of Day, Peggy, and If You Knew. Mr. Cox is one of those composers who interest themselves in the song, built of a melody with a pure accompaniment for the piano. He does not delve into the intricacies of modern art-song.
     If You Knew, dedicated to Evan Williams, is a straightforward melody over an arpegiated accompaniment in sixteenth notes, 4/4 time; Down in Derry, a successful essay in the old English manner; Peggy, a rollicking song in the Irish style, dedicated to Reinald Werrenrath, and The End of Day, a sustained effort in the ballad style. These are songs that singers will find useful and effective and they will also prove worth while in teaching, as they are not difficult.
I'm sorry I couldn't find a version of Down in Derry for us to hear--I think I would have liked it.

Our concert ends with the Treble Clef choir singing Annie Laurie. I couldn't find a version sung by a women's choir. However, I found this incredibly lovely and irresistible performance by Jean Redpath from the April 26, 1986 broadcast of A Prairie Home Companion. It's a perfect finale.

 


Friday, March 27, 2015

11 January 1923: Woman's Club Gives Party

From The Fallon County Times, page 1:

     The Baker Woman's Club gave the annual entertainment of husbands last Tuesday evening at a combined card and dancing party at the Hubbard's Hall. About one hundred people were present and twenty tables of Bridge and Five Hundred were played. Mesdames Yokley and McArthur superintended the card playing. High score prizes for bridge were awarded to Mrs. Comstock and H. S. Proctor, low score prizes were awarded to Mrs. Al Hansen and Chas. LaCross. High score prizes for 500 were awarded to Mrs. L. Wilson and Ped Akers, low score prizes were awarded to Mrs. Lee Biffle and O. Christopher. After the prizes were awarded a lunch of appetizing chicken sandwiches, delicious rocks, pickles and coffee was served by the hostesses, Mesdames Kelling, Neveux, Hough, Ravey, Car  Hanson and Ladwig. Mr. Hough held the seat of honor at a table with the three best looking young ladies. It must be said, however, he had to hold the place with the aid of two wicked looking knives. None but the brave deserve the fair.
     After lunch Mrs. Leon LaCross delighted every one with the solo "The Sunshine of Your Smile." She was repeatedly encored until she responded with the refrain.
     Dancing followed until 1:30, Ped Akers furnished the music. Everyone had a real good time and the husbands are satisfied to let the Woman's Club go on for another year.

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     The Sunshine of Your Smile was recorded by John McCormack in 1916, and it sounded just like this:


     As sung by Mrs. Leon LaCross at the Baker Woman's Club party, I imagine it sounded a lot more like this version by June Bronhill:



Monday, March 16, 2015

Another Meeting of the Woman's Club

My great aunt Emma McArthur was a participant in the program at the Baker Woman's Club meeting on March 29, 1924. The program was reportedly "much enjoyed by all" and was well detailed in the weekly paper so, dear reader, step into my time machine and let us get in on some of that Woman's Club action.

Dateline: Baker, Montana — 3 April 1924
The Fallon County Times, p. 8:


I believe "Tarantelle Mignon" was actually this very lovely piece by French composer Paul Taffanel, Grande Fantaisie sur Mignon, and I do hope the ladies of Baker enjoyed a performance much like this one: 


Maybe Emma McArthur's talk on Modern Kitchen Conveniences included a few words about the Hoosier:


Or the table stove which, sitting on that tablecloth, looks to me like an accident fixin' to happen:


Betty Lentz performed a piece by Beethoven. Rather than "Fuerelife" as stated in the news article, I'm sure it was Fur Elise. If I've found the correct Betty Lentz in the 1920 census of Baker, Montana, she was born about 1912, so she would have been three years older than this young pianist:


I was unable to find anything at all about The Pigmies Parade, not even the first name of composer Preston, but it was also performed at a student recital in Indianapolis in the fall of 1923.

Women's Dress, the subject of Mrs. Blakemore's talk, would probably have been a fun topic in 1924. The ad below was from The Ladies' Home Journal, September 1922 issue:


(But, reader, don't fall for that ad! That is NOT a "PHOTOGRAPH OF HAMILTON CLOTHES ON LIVING FIGURES" as it claims to be! Such blatant baloney casts doubt upon everything I've ever read in The Ladies' Home Journal! Cancel my subscription!)

Musician and composer Dorothy Gaynor Blake published music instruction books for young children. Mary Christopher would have been about nine years old at the time of her performance of In Venice at the Woman's Club meeting. I didn't find In Venice online, but I did find a performance of Blake's Forest Voices by nine-year-old Madeline H. You'll have to use your imagination, but Mary's performance may have gone something like this:


There was nothing at all to be found online about A Perfect Little Lady by Frances Wilson. The search was complicated by the fact that there is a present-day pianist-teacher-writer of the same name. Reader, if you are able to shed any light on A Perfect Little Lady, please do so in the Comments section.


Sunday, March 01, 2015

8 March 1921, Baker, Montana: Judge Dousman Predicts the Past... er, the Future

Dateline: Baker, Montana — 10 March 1921
The Fallon County Times, p. 1, col. 1, below the fold:
WOMAN'S CLUB MEETING TUESDAY
     The Baker Woman's Club met Tuesday at 3 P. M., March 8th, Mrs. Marks presiding.
     Plans were reported by committee for serving the dinner for the Farmers' Institute, Monday noon, March 14th, and also for the afternoon's entertainment by the Club.
     After attending to other matters of business the Club enjoyed a good program.
     Mrs. Zook gave interesting current events, especially mentioning the important problems to be met by the new administration at Washington.
     Judge C. J. Dousman then gave an excellent talk on Americanization. He dwelt on the broader aspects of real Americanization, not simply naturalization of aliens.
     One duty of true American citizens is not to shun international obligations such as the promotion of world peace. He predicts that within 50 years, there will be an effective world organization* with power to enforce peace and prevent the depredations of one nation upon another.
     He related some of his experiences in admitting aliens to citizenship which was interesting.
     The club members enjoyed Judge Dousman's talk regardless of politics.
     Miss Beatrice Daugherty then delighted the audience with two well-played piano solos. The first number was "I dreamt that I dwelt in Marble Halls" from Balfe's "Bohemian Girl" and gave opportunity for the hearers to appreciate the delicate touch of the pianist shown, especially in the variations effecting rippling waters. The encore was also pleasing, entitled "Valse Caprice" by Spindler.
     The last number on the program was a fine paper on "Dietics" by Mrs. Ed Carey. Much valuable information was given as to food combinations with an appeal for balanced rations—which would enable one to eat less, thus adding to the feeling of well-being and subtracting from the H. C. of L.
     Good coffee and chicken sandwiches served by Mesdames Ladwig, Neveux, Leo Burns and Miss Scott added to the afternoon's program.

Having transcribed the above for my current book project**, I had a sudden craving for Enya's Marble Halls, so off to YouTube I went. I found instead this very lovely piano version of Balfe's composition--a much better fit for our context.


I'm sorry about Spindler's Valse Caprice. There seems to be neither audio nor video version available online. You'll have to do it yourself. The sheet music is in the public domain and is downloadable at the very good price of $Free from several websites. BYO piano.

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*The League of Nations was founded in January 1920, a year before Judge Dousman's talk. WWII happened anyway, so it wasn't as effective as it could have been, after which the United Nations was established in 1945 for the same purpose. The UN doesn't seem to have reached that pinnacle of effectiveness either. Apparently there are always some who just don't want to play nice.

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**My current book project, News: A Krentz & Buss Family Album was, for all intents and purposes, done. Just a few clippings about my Montana-homesteading Great-Aunt Emma, I thought, a simple two-page spread ought to do it. One of those clippings, however, reminded me that she was not alone in Montana... there were cousins. And spouses of cousins, and cousins of spouses. Stuff like that. Well, I realize this is a project that could easily go on ad infinitum, but at the moment I'm hoping I can wrap it up in maybe another fifty pages... seventy-five, tops.

You may have noticed, Great-Aunt Emma isn't even mentioned in the clipping above. I know from other clippings, though, that she was a member of the Woman's Club. She would have been at the meeting. Besides, in just a couple of months, Miss Beatrice Daugherty is going to marry the brother of the soon-to-be second wife of Emma's widower cousin George. And George is my first cousin, twice removed. Really, how can I ignore that?


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Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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