Sunday, September 18, 2016

Newspaper findings and more pianist analyses

The more infrequent posts on this blog I must apologize for, since it's been busy having school, and doing projects and such, spending the time to work on a post for several hours has been hard to do with this. Other than that, all of the newspaper travels I've had have been great, finding all sorts of things mentioning those characters that we know and love so well. The last two posts I have done were almost solely on some of the findings I had amid these newspapers, as the Hunting and Charles Carson section I did was actually based on an article from The New York Clipper, and The Albany Express, both from 1896. The section from the latter had much more detailed information on the arrests of them, though each one had information that the other didn't. 

Surprisingly, sections on Hunting date back to the mid-1880's, which is really interesting! He's listed in many 1888 editions of The New York Dramatic Mirror. It's not that often that we see these recording stars mentioned in Newspapers so early on, even though if they were older than the average age of these boys, they are more likely to be mentioned earlier on somehow. Among this expedition,  I found many sections that reprinted that article from The Chicago Tribune detailing Leachman's recording process, and what he does every day with his recording. That section seems to have been reprinted more times than expected, which says a lot about how amazing and interesting Leachman was to the public, not just to recording fiends like The Phonoscope writers and readers. His process and eccentricities seemed to have been a great interest to the general public, more so than could have expected. Other than his fascinating recording processes, he owned a pet fighting monkey, and a freak horse that went on vaudeville tours with him in 1901-1903. It seems the more we learn about Leachman, the more weird he becomes. But that's great!

The way we're learning about Leachman reverts me back to Hylands, since that's a similar story, as i mentioned in my last post the fantastic and very entertaining letter that was published about him begging for performers to join his "Knights of the Footlights" endeavor. Of course, we know that this was published as a joke in the magazine it was in, because there was really no way that he would fill the promises he made(hmm...). It was just like Hylands Spencer and Yeager, except that it didn't really work the way that Hylands Spencer and Yeager did. The fact that he had a stable crew of financial support was what made working with Len Spencer and Harry Yeager important, and made it last(somewhat)

In reality, the job he was able to keep the longest in his life was working at Columbia. 

Other than that, his ventures lasted a year, or maybe two or three years if it was decent to him for longer than a few months. 

See, Frank Banta wasn't like this, this is why he remained a valuable asset for Edison and Victor, and if he had lived longer, he would have worked for them at least into the middle of 1905, if not later. Hylands hadn't a chance, even if he was still coming in occasionally in 1905, which is still very strange to me, since he obviously hated working there... It doesn't make much sense really. All of the contradiction stems from this here:
Ah yes, that quote. 
So important to Columbia huh? 
Yeah, no. 
If they thought this was a joke(which they did, as it was published in the Our Tattler section of The Phonoscope), they would have documented it. I wonder who told the correspondents of this? Maybe Spencer? It's hard to know. Someone like that probably told them. It's still funny regardless, since George Schweinfest or Edward Issler would have had a good laugh from this, since it's so unreasonable and selfish of him to say that, after only a handful or so of months working there. Issler must have gotten a kick out of Hylands once he began his term there. Since he was so immature and selfish, like a teenager in many aspects. 

Speaking of Hylands, I just received a record in the mail from my dear friend Craig two days ago, and here's the record:
It's a fantastic mess of a record! 
After I cleaned it, it was still pretty scratchy, but that don't matter since the music is so good and interesting. It sounded an awful lot like another Spencer record I had heard from the same year, which was his cylinder of "Since the Fortune Teller Told me"(which is an amazing record by the way!). It is a mess of a recording in a similar way as that record, though it's a little more so. I would love to share the cylinder of "Since the Fortune Teller Told me", but it is one of those records I cannot share the link to. Without it, I can say that it is a very clear and loud brown wax with the typical Columbia setup of Hylands on piano and Spencer singing, and Hylands pretty much plays syncopation for the entirety of the record, and plays very frantically just the same. It's not on-the-surface a mess of a record, but after really focusing on the piano accompaniment, you can hear how frantic and shaky Hylands' playing is on it, though it's still a prime example of early the Rag-Time style, even if was recorded after 1900. 
Just to give an example, Hylands begins the record with the same crazy thing that he plays at the beginning of this cylinder here. That was recorded in 1899, and he played it then, just to certainly place the same pianist on these two records made in different years. 
Without further ado, here's the record pictured just above:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qbKpAwcvISk Again, apologies for how scratchy it is, and for the awful speed fluctuation. This is the worst Columbia I have heard in terms of speed inconsistency, as the machine seems to have started very fast, and slowed down dramatically, making the record sound very strange. This record is just as bad as an early Berliner disc, and that's saying a whole lot! With this comparison, here's an early Berliner:
Fred Gaisberg's 1893 Berliner of "Honeymoon March"

Well, it's not that bad, but it's pretty well close to it on these terms. 
That Berliner just above has been a subject of comparison in terms of Gaisberg's playing, since it's really the only widely known solo of his, though I have heard mutters around from Charlie Judkins that there's another one out there, and it's not just of a stereotypical late-Victorian march. The title has been said to be "The Tickler", and it's supposed to be a pre-ragtime piece, with actual syncopation! That would be great to hear, much like the infamous solo Banta made in 1900 of "Hello My Baby", that no one has been able to find a copy of yet.

Back to the new record I received, now before getting the record, I had heard a different take of the same record a while back, though it was the ten inch of it. With that, here's the ten inch of it from the same year. Among the many weird things about these takes of "On Emancipation day", you may have noticed that the record company was not announced at the beginning, which is very strange. Hearing no company in the announcement made me assume that they were Victor records, but as it turns out, they are two Columbia's. These records were made during the awful battle with Climax in 1901, so that might explain the absence of the label being mentioned on both takes. Other than that, I don't really know why the company is not announced. The piano is definitely more wild on the 7-inch take, without doubt, since they were running out of time, the final chorus is a mess, with Hylands not hitting the right bass notes, and playing frantically, almost getting ahead of Spencer. 




Within the last week or so, I have found a batch of fun Issler's orchestra recordings, which all sound exceptionally clear for the mid-1890's. 
(a cartoon I drew of Issler in marching hussar attire)
We all know Issler, and his gang of virtuoso musicians: George Schweinfest, William Tuson, David Dana, and Len Spencer. These records have all of the crew, including Spencer! 
Here 's the first one:
(there's a lot of chatter at the beginning! Which is very weird for something that wasn't recorded in 1888-1891)
Being a fan of Hungarian march music, this piece really highlights how authentic Hungarian marches were played in the same century that most of them were written! This is for the most part a typical Issler's orchestra, with the amazing sound quality from an original record(directly recorded on the record, made without pantographing or duplication). The piano was also recorded very well, just as usual, since Issler was really the first one who learned how to record the piano, with all ranges loud and clear. I don't see why the record managers and engineers didn't ask Issler for help when it came to recording the piano. Again, this is why I am still under the impression that Columbia didn't rid of Issler after Hylands began working there, since they would have needed all the pianists available after Hylands began, also, George Schweinfest would have made his arguments to keep Issler there as a pianist. 

Here's the next one:
This one is a great example of a Victorian Mazurka in 4/4, rather than in 5/4 or waltz time. It's a really nice recording, just a great one to listen to, with not too many things so point out here other than it being authentic Victorian music played in the era itself. 

This next one is a fantastic example of the selections from Verdi's Carmen played as an arranged march. 
Here you go: 
Once again, the piano sounds very good, loud, and clear, with the bass notes coming through very well. This one appears to be a dubbed cylinder though, which is strange, considering how early it is(1896 probably, it's a little later for Issler it seems). 

This final one is a cylinder that seems to mark the oldest improvisation in syncopated time. 
Here's the 1896 recording of "Dixie" by Issler's orchestra(announced by young Len Spencer. This is one of the clearest records I have ever heard from pre-1897, if not the clearest. About halfway through is when Issler begins playing trill like things in the right hand, far up in the treble, but then after that comes the syncopation, very well heard, coming through to clearly place the ragged rhythm. This record is an historic piece, regardless of it being a stereotypical mid-19th century minstrel song. The fact that this was probably recorded before 1897 really gets the point across that the rag-time fad began before 1897 better than anything else I have heard so far, even though Gaisberg's playing on this Gaskin Berliner here from November of 1896 is pretty hard to beat. What makes Issler playing syncopation like he does on the cylinder so amazing is that he would have grown up musically in the 1870's, and was willing to even try his hand at playing music of the generation after him. The fact that he recorded it is what's really amazing here. He's not great at the syncopation, but you can tell it's there, and that he's trying his best at it. Keep this in mind when listening to Issler's orchestra records. 



*Thanks for the record Craig!*


Hope you enjoyed this! 








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