Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Rochefort Tells How Americans Buy Art Fakes

From September 24, 1911

ROCHEFORT TELLS HOW AMERICANS BUY ART FAKES

ROCHEFORT TELLS HOW AMERICANS BUY ART FAKES: We Are the Preferred Victims of the Dealers in “Old Master,” He Says — Why, of “Rembrandts” Alone There Are 2,500 in the United States. (PDF)

When I worked for Christie’s Auction House, I was always fascinated when something came through that turned out to be a forgery. I was a photographer for the company, so I worked with a lot of experts in each department, and I tried to learn a bit about how they were able to tell a forgery from the real deal. I never gained a sophisticated enough eye to recognize a forgery, but it was all still interesting to me.

If the subject of art forgery at all interests you, I recommend the movie Who the #$&% is Jackson Pollock? (It was streaming on Netflix, but appears not to be anymore.)

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Written by David

September 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Art,Entertainment

Rich Men Who Have Organs Built In Their Homes

From September 17, 1911

RICH MEN WHO HAVE ORGANS BUILT IN THEIR HOMES

RICH MEN WHO HAVE ORGANS BUILT IN THEIR HOMES: And Who Employ Organists by the Year to Give Them Music at Their Own Firesides — More Than $50,000 Has Been Paid for Some of These Organs. (PDF)

As mentioned in the article, the “largest and costliest organ in the United States” belonged to Frederick G. Bourne’s and was installed in his Oakdale, Long Island home.

According to the Organ Historical Society’s Pipe Organ Database (who knew?) the residence became a military academy after Bourne died, and in 1948 the organ was sold. Part of it went to Detroit, and part went to San Diego.

Today, the largest organ in the United States may be (and I say “may” because I found conflicting details) the Wanamaker Organ currently displayed in a Macy’s Department store in Philadelphia.

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Written by David

September 16th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Is The Moving Picture To Be The Play Of The Future?

From August 20, 1911

IS THE MOVING PICTURE TO BE THE PLAY OF THE FUTURE?

IS THE MOVING PICTURE TO BE THE PLAY OF THE FUTURE? Inventions Which Will Vastly Increase Its Capabilities — How These Dramas Are Obtained and Why Actors Give Up the Stage to Enter This New Profession. (PDF)

In 1911, the motion picture industry was just beginning to boom. Movies were still silent, and black-and-white, but this article predicts how the industry will change once color and sound are added.

Is it too much to say that the moving picture is the theatrical show of the future? Yes, if we have got always to see simple black-and-white pictures, soundless and colorless; no, if the invention is to take the course which it seems destined to take, and to develop hugely into the spoken word, the musical accompaniment, and the hiring of the greatest singers to take part in the humblest of plays.

At the time, movies were churned out like ephemeral novelties. They were shown for one night, and the actors were unknown. But over time, people began to recognize some of their favorite actors who appeared in many films. They would cheer for them when they appeared on screen. But they had no idea who the actors were. Stage acting is where the fame and glory was. But it, too, had its drawbacks.

The moving-picture business is making greater and greater appeals to stage people every day. In most cases the pay is better than that on the stage. Then the employment is steady. The bane of the theatrical business has always been the long season of unemployment. A moving-picture actor works fifty-two weeks in the year, and for him there is no long drought in which he parades the Rialto hungrily and pulls his belt closer to keep his appetite in control and wistfully haunts the booking offices. Besides, he has a chance at family life; he can live with the folks.

There is one heavy drawback, and that is the absence of a chance for fame. Every actor wants to make a reputation, and until now the moving-picture man has merely got the cash and let the credit go. His name appears in no programme, his acting gets only a cash reward. But that is coming to an end. The names of the casts are posted int he Motion Picture Magazine, the organ of the trade; their pictures are painted there, and, as has been said, the Edison Company has started the innovation of printing regular programmes with the full case, just as is done on every stage. When the other companies fall into line the last step in securing the full dignity of the stage to the moving-picture actor will have been taken.

The audiences themselves are compelling it. Where plays by certain stock companies are shown the spectators get to known the faces of the actors and to find their favorites. It is a common thing for an audience in many parts of the country to burst out in applause when the face of some favorite actor appears on the screen or to hiss some well-known villain. Naturally such audiences are consumed with curiosity to know the names of the heroes they are cheering, and the companies must yield to the demand. The publication of the photographs and names of the leading stock actors and actresses is a sign of it.

It’s a fascinating read from a time when people were still experimenting with the business and technology of a new industry. The article ends by noting: “We are just at the dawn of the moving picture as a feature of modern life… It is impossible to conjecture how great a part it may play in our civilization by, say, the dawn of the twenty-first century.”

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Written by David

August 15th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Babies Who Earn A Man’s Wage And Support Families

From July 30, 1911

BABIES WHO EARN A MAN'S WAGE AND SUPPORT FAMILIES

BABIES WHO EARN A MAN’S WAGE AND SUPPORT FAMILIES: To the Business Man and the Business Woman Is Now Added the Business Baby — They Understand Their Trade and Take an Interest in It. (PDF)

You have to admit, they are cute kids. The one on the far left is Marie Borgreve, “who takes posing seriously and, at four years, assumes the dignity of forty.” I think she looks a bit like Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on Mad Men.

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Written by David

July 28th, 2011 at 9:30 am

When Mark Twain Nearly Changed His Literary Career

From July 30, 1911

WHEN MARK TWAIN NEARLY CHANGED HIS LITERARY CAREER

WHEN MARK TWAIN NEARLY CHANGED HIS LITERARY CAREER: A Disappointment That Incidentally Gave Him a Lifelong Yearning to Kill a Critic. (PDF)

Here’s a first person account of Mark Twain’s reaction to a bad review.

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Written by David

July 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Exporting An Imaginary America To Make Money

From July 30, 1911

EXPORTING AN IMAGINARY AMERICA TO MAKE MONEY

EXPORTING AN IMAGINARY AMERICA TO MAKE MONEY: Moving Picture Lovers in Foreign Cities Prefer Indian and Cowboy Films to All Others (PDF)

According to IMDB, the current record for foreign box office receipts of an American movie belongs to Avatar. But you don’t have to go too far down the list to find a cowboy movie. The tenth highest foreign box office record belongs to Toy Story 3.

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Written by David

July 27th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Entertainment

Must The Nickel Novel Die Out? It Is In Danger Now

From July 30, 1911

MUST THE NICKEL NOVEL DIE OUT? IT IS IN DANGER NOW

MUST THE NICKEL NOVEL DIE OUT? IT IS IN DANGER NOW: It Calls for Ability to Write One, Though You Might Not Think It, and The Supply of Authors Is Decreasing — Less Than Fifteen of Them Left to Supply the Demand. (PDF)

This article is a nice appreciation of the nickel novel (also called the dime novel), which appeared to be on its way out but actually survived another 30 years or so.

Not every age produces a Shakespeare, a Dante, a Kipling, or a man destined to have his name written high in large thirty-two candle power incandescents. Every so often comes an apparent literary famine, and women who wear thick glasses and large cameo breastpins and little bearded moles arise at Friday Afternoon Literary Clubs to express wonderment about what the country’s coming to anyhow. Why is it, they inquire, that we’re not producing any more real mahstahs of literachuah?

There’s going to be equal consternation one of these days in an entirely different circle when it is learned that we’re going to stand vis a vis with a famine in another brand of literature. I refer to the five and ten cent literature known as ‘nickel libraries” and “dime novels.’ Unless there appear new men of inventive genius to give birth to an “Old Sleuth” or a “Nick Carter” adventure each week, then the people who read that sort of fiction must get their taste educated down, or up, to something else — either that or do without.

The present supply of men who can turn out a 50,000-word thriller a week isn’t going to last always. As it is there are less than fifteen men in the country who can be depended on for this type of marrow-chilling reading matter. Some of the star performers among these are men advanced in years. One or two are already in poor health. They cannot stand the nervous strain of their stupendous weekly tasks many years more. It is inevitable that they must retire from the field and permit younger men to think up exploits for “Nick Carter,” “Old Sleuth,” and the rest of the “world-famous detectives,” as the heroes are invariably referred to in the chronicles.

You can read more about Nick Carter at ThrillingDetective.com. And you can read one of his earliest adventures (from 1889) courtesy of Google Books.

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Written by David

July 25th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Business Girls’ Noonday Diversion

From July 23, 1911

BUSINESS GIRLS' NOONDAY DIVERSION

BUSINESS GIRLS’ NOONDAY DIVERSION: A Novel Amusement That Is Gaining in Popularity Downtown. (PDF)

Have you heard about the latest craze that all the business girls are doing on their lunchbreak? That’s right, they’re Ballroom Dancing.

“Gracious, May, you don’t want any ice cream; we haven’t time.”

“Yes, we have. I’ll eat it fast. It’s only 12:30. We can get in two waltzes and a two-step easy.”

This is what you are beginning to hear in downtown New York every noontime nowadays, wherever young, bright-faced “business girls” gather. For a new delight has been prepared for that energetic, youthful person. In the very heart of things, where girls in the middle of the day crowd the sidewalks as thick as roses in a rose garden, just where the jewelry, financial, insurance, and legal districts join, where now, it seems to the bystander, there are at the luncheon hour more feminine personalities than masculine, a ballroom has been provided in her behalf. She may dance, to the music of a capital orchestra, any time from 12 to 1:30.

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Written by David

July 19th, 2011 at 10:00 am

Going Down In A Tube To Hunt For Sunken Treasure

From July 16, 1911

GOING DOWN IN A TUBE TO HUNT FOR SUNKEN TREASURE

GOING DOWN IN A TUBE TO HUNT FOR SUNKEN TREASURE: How an Ingenious Scot Will Explore the Sea Bottom Off the Virginia Coast to Find $500,000 in Silver. (PDF)

This is one of those great articles where I do a little research and find out even more interesting stuff that happened next. The article is about Charles Williamson, who invented a tube he could use to go treasure hunting on the bottom of the sea.

What I learned is that Charles’ son John took this invention a step further. He realized that if you put a big window at the bottom of the tube, you could film underwater movies. He became a pioneer in undersea filmmaking, and in 1914 released an undersea film called Thirty Leagues Under the Sea. I can’t find a copy of it online. Let me know if you have better luck finding it than I did.

The American Museum of Natural History has an illustrated biography of John Williamson on their website.

A site called The Rebreather Site has more information, including photos taken from the tube like this one:

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Written by David

July 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am

The Campaign To Curb The Moving Picture Evil In New York

From July 2, 1911

THE CAMPAIGN TO CURB THE MOVING PICTURE EVIL IN NEW YORK

THE CAMPAIGN TO CURB THE MOVING PICTURE EVIL IN NEW YORK: Organized Efforts to Censor Exhibitions Which Under Existing Conditions Are Harmful. (PDF)

In 1911, movies were gaining in popularity with all kinds of people. This created situations for grown men and little children to sit side by side in a darkened room, which probably didn’t happen very much before. Surely this is a reason to worry. A report “On the Condition of Moving Picture Shows in New York” was submitted to the Mayor. Superintendent Thomas D. Walsh described the matter this way:

“There is no objection to the moving-picture show as a means of entertainment. Properly conducted it is most instructive and entertaining. But the evil lies in the conditions under which so many are given — the dark room, filled with adults and children, absolutely without supervision, affording no protection against the evil-minded and depraved men who frequent such places and sit beside the innocent boys and girls without a question or suspicion until irreparable harm is done.

“The society last year prosecuted twenty-eight cases of crimes committed under these conditions and secured twenty convictions of men who lured children to their downfall. Numerous other cases of impairing the morals of children were prosecuted in the Court of Special Sessions.

The percentage of criminal cases arising from this evil has, during the first six months of 1911, leaped upward over 100 per cent. These figures are well to be considered by those who plead for moving pictures as only an innocent pastime.”

One proposed solution: leave the lights on.

A better proposed solution: encourage families to go to the movies together.

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Written by David

June 29th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Why Music May Be A Luxury Few Can Afford

From June 25, 1911

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD

WHY MUSIC MAY BE A LUXURY FEW CAN AFFORD: An Item in the High Cost of Living That Has Far Reaching Results (PDF)

Before MP3s, DRM, Compact Discs, and before the phonograph was very popular, people enjoyed live music in their homes. And that meant vocal lessons.

Time was when the middle-class dweller on Manhattan Island could take vocal lessons or send talented members of his family to the studio without fear of bankruptcy. But that good time is of the past. To-day the young man who would like to study vocal culture after office hours, hoping to follow in the footsteps of a Bispham, has scarcely the ghost of a chance.

I wonder how the average cost of voice lessons in 1911 compares to the average cost today, when I suspect the demand is much lower, and it’s more of a niche occupation.

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Written by David

June 21st, 2011 at 11:30 am

Sir Hiram Maxim Exposes Spiritualistic Mediums

From June 18, 1911

SIR HIRAM MAXIM EXPOSES SPIRITUALISTIC MEDIUMS

SIR HIRAM MAXIM EXPOSES SPIRITUALISTIC MEDIUMS: Noted Inventor Proves Tomsons, Whom William T. Stead Exploited at Private Seances, Were Merely Clever Tricksters. (PDF)

A great story of debunking fraudsters:

Mr. and Mrs. Tomson were itinerant American music hall artists of comparatively mediocre ability, until taken under the protective wing of William T. Stead, the English editor and journalist. The Tomsons were performing in London when they were first brought to the attention of Mr. Stead by a fellow music hall juggler.

Their act was a fairly clever bit of trickery or sleight of hand, accompanied with all the necessary stage hand assistance. They claimed no mediumistic or supernatural powers for themselves during their early London season, but later they discovered that to be a “spookist” in gullible London meant an augmentation of their financial condition, and added a value to their stage career which in their wildest flights of ambition they had not dreamed of.

[...]

When Sir Hiram Maxim read that his friend William Stead was publicly announcing that he had seen and touched his dead son, Sir Hiram called on Mr. Stead. Their conversation was as follows:

Sir Hiram — Look here, Stead, those spookists are fooling you. You’re too trusting and sincere for those clever rascals.

Mr. Stead — But, Sir Hiram, they showed me my son. Don’t you think I would know Willie?

Sir Hiram — See here, Stead, old fellows like you and Sir Oliver Lodge and myself have no business pronouncing this kind of people genuine. We ought to pass that up to school boys who are full of tricks themselves, or to Americans like the Tomsons, who know more tricks in ten minutes than we do in eight generations…

Mr. Stead — I tell you I saw my son.

Sir Hiram — Swank! You are too honest to catch those tricksters.

Mr. Stead — Then suppose you try.

Sir Hiram — Done! And I’ll make a good job of it, too.

I’ll leave it to you to read how Hiram Maxim exposed the frauds on more than one occasion. Predictably, the Tomsins excuse was that “although the medium really had the power… she could not do so at all times, and sometimes had to ‘fake’ a séance.” This is the same kind of excuse given by so-called psychics today when they are found to be using trickery. See for example Uri Geller.

In this case, Hiram Maxim exposed the Tomsons as frauds enough times that they finally confessed they have never had any supernatural powers of any kind.

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Written by David

June 17th, 2011 at 9:30 am

In The Good Old Days Of Harrigan And Hart

From June 11, 1911

IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF HARRIGAN AND HART

IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS OF HARRIGAN AND HART: The Death of Edward Harrigan Brings Back to the Older Theatregoers Recollections of the Most Famous Comedians of Their Time in New York. (PDF)

Around the same time that Gilbert and Sullivan were working together in Britain, Edward Harrigan and Tony Hart formed America’s first musical theater team. Harrigan died on June 6, 1911, prompting the Magazine to take a wistful look at Harrigan and Hart’s era in theater.

The passing of Edward Harrigan is more than the death of a good man and a capable actor. It marks the end of an epoch. With his death the fact is emphasized again that the New York which saw the birth of those who are to-day hardly more than beginning to turn gray is forever past. With it has gone a set of social conditions, a cycle of old jokes, and an era of good fellowship. Compared with the 70’s and 80’s when Harrigan and Hart were in their prime, New York to-day is almost as foreign as Hongkong. New times, new people, new ideas — even a new conception of humor.

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Written by David

June 7th, 2011 at 10:30 am

Apes Who Entertain At The Zoo

From May 14, 1911

APES WHO ENTERTAIN AT THE ZOO

APES WHO ENTERTAIN AT THE ZOO (PDF)

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Written by David

May 11th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Nature

Seeking Bacon Manuscripts In The River Wye

From May 14, 1911

SEEKING BACON MANUSCRIPTS IN THE RIVER WYE

SEEKING BACON MANUSCRIPTS IN THE RIVER WYE: Dr. Orville W. Owen’s Curious Search to Prove That Bacon Wrote the Shakespeare Plays Interests and Amuses England. (PDF)

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Written by David

May 10th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

“The Most Thrilling Moments In Circus Men’s Careers”

From April 16, 1911

THE MOST THRILLING MOMENTS IN CIRCUS MENS CAREERS

“THE MOST THRILLING MOMENTS IN CIRCUS MEN’S CAREERS” The Elephant Man and a Midair Acrobat Tell Stories and a Clown Spins a Funny One. (PDF)

The subhead for this article says that the Elephant Man tells a story of one of the most thrilling moments in his career.The Elephant Man I was thinking of had been dead for over 20 years by the time this story was written, so I assumed they weren’t talking about him, but I wonder what his answer would have been. Anyway, this elephant man is actually the man at the circus who handles and trains elephants.

Yesterday a reporter of The TImes penetrated into the “greenroom” of the Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth, which is now performing at the Madison Square Garden. Let it be said that this “greenroom” is of Homeric proportions: Twenty-four elephants, camels, other strange animals, and horses and men beyond number, were lined up there waiting for the cue for the grand entree. The Times man, as the circus progressed, wandered about and asked the question: “What has been the most thrilling moment of your circus career?” Is it surprising that the people who are constantly flirting with death spoke only of elephant stampedes and cyclones?

You very likely have seen him — the man in the blue uniform who appears in the Barnum and Bailey grand entree at the head of the elephant herd. His name is Harry Mooney, head elephant man of the circus, and he has been all over the world with shows that ranged from one to three rings.

The Times man asked him for the most thrilling moment in his life.

“It’s hard to pick and choose, but I should say that it was out in Johannesburg, South Africa. I was in charge of five elephants. Water was scarce in those days in Johannesburg. In order to give the elephants the bath which they so much hanker after, particularly in warm dry climates, I led them out to the compound around one of the diamond mines.

“You know these compounds are big stockades built around the diamond mines to keep the negroes from getting away with valuable finds. The negroes work in the mines by day and at night sleep in huts within the stockade. Pumps are going constantly to drain the mines, and the water from these makes good-sized puddles in the compounds.

“There was an American negro and one South African native assisting me with my herd of five elephants.

“We led the herd into the compound, but immediately there appeared what looked to me like three thousand negroes. I guessed none of them had ever seen an elephant before. They crawled out of huts, from behind heaps of dirt, and from every other place conceivable.

“As soon as those negroes appeared the elephants made a rush for the gate. Luckily the gates were closed, and I was able to round the herd up. But I couldn’t get them to go back and take their bath.

“A week later, or about that, I again took the herd back to see if they hadn’t changed their minds. The minute we reached the gates they seemed to recognize them, just like human beings. They began to trumpet, swung around, and before you could snap your fingers they started off down the street.

“I was a little way behind the herd, and when they came at me I swung my elephant hook into the fore flank of one of them. It hung, and I was able to catch and grab hold of his ear. At that instant another elephant of the herd came alongside. The two of them started to run side by side, and I got jammed between them. I guess it only lasted for a second, but it seemed to me like a year. That new elephant simply wiped me from my hold on the elephant’s ear, and I got rolled between the two.

“I realized that if those elephants got a little closer together it would be all up with me, but if they separated a little I would drop — very likely beneath their feet. It was two chances for a bad job.

“Before I knew just what was going to happen, those two elephants had rolled me their entire length, and left me sprawling on the ground. I picked myself up and gathered my wits together just in time to see them disappearing through a lumber yard.

“My knowledge of the town let me know that there was a side street by which, if I beat it quickly, I could head them off. I cut through this and, sure enough, I got there just in time to see the herd of five coming down the street lickety-split.

“The crowd? — yes, and the policemen, too — were beating it in all directions. It was no time for elephant hooks. If you are going to stop an elephant herd at all it is with your voice, and you’ve got to have mighty good reason to know that they are acquainted with that voice, and know just what it means.

“I jumped out into the middle of the street. The five elephants were coming full steam ahead. I yelled, ‘Ho, hey, ho!’

“The five elephants stopped.

“I breathed a relieved breath, and the circus management didn’t have 5 cents to pay.”

If that story of animals forced to perform tricks, breaking free of their captivity, and ultimately being prodded with hooks has made you eager to see the circus, here’s the Greatest Show on Earth tour schedule.

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Written by David

April 15th, 2011 at 11:30 am

Posted in Entertainment

Palladino Outdone By A Non-Professional Medium

From April 16, 1911

PALLADINO OUTDONE BY A NON-PROFESSIONAL MEDIUM

PALLADINO OUTDONE BY A NON-PROFESSIONAL MEDIUM: Dr. Hyslop Discovers a Girl Who Produces the Most Astounding “Siritualistic” Phenomena Yet Seen — She Does Not Accept money, Gives Tests Only in Private, and Her Identity Is a Secret. (PDF)

It’s James Hyslop again. Can you imagine if the Sunday Magazine today gave space so frequently to an expert in “psychical research”?

In this article, Dr. Hyslop describes a young medium he’s found who is even more talented than more famous mediums, and yet she wants to remain anonymous (she is referred to pseudonymously as “Miss Burton” in the article).

The article reveals that experts have determined Miss Burton a fraud. She has been found to manipulate objects herself that she claimed were being manipulated by the spirit world. For example, a phonograph that started and stopped without being touched was discovered to have been controlled by a rope from afar. And yet Dr. Hyslop still really wants to believe that the other non-physical “phenomena” such as singing or whistling, which she could only do when under a trance, were totally real.

His weak case rests on the fact that Miss Burton seems to really believe she has psychic powers, and when she was called out on her physical deception, she acted surprised to learn that she was actually doing things herself while in a trance. Plus, she wants to remain anonymous, so her motives can’t be fame. Her honest nature suggests that she’s not trying to deceive anyone.

At worst, she’s a fraud. At best, she’s self-delusional.

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Written by David

April 13th, 2011 at 12:00 pm

Posted in Entertainment

Harmonica Artist Who Toured With Jenny Lind

From April 9, 1911

HARMONICA ARTIST WHO TOURED WITH JENNY LIND

HARMONICA ARTIST WHO TOURED WITH JENNY LIND: Barnum Discovered Him in His Early Days and He Proved to be a Novelty and Made a Hit. (PDF)

This article tells the story of Chris Bathman, who claims to have introduced the harmonica to the professional stage. I can’t find any information about him outside of this article, but here is his story:

“I was born in the town of Thun, canton of Bern, Switzerland,” he said, “in 1846. My parents were manufacturers of cheese, dealers in cattle, etc., and in the near-by town I had an uncle who owned a cheese cellar and exported extensively to England and Germany. I cannot remember when I did not play the harmonica. It seemed to come to me naturally, and when, at the age of about 9, my parents sent me to live with my uncle in town, the natives would keep me playing for their amusement as long as I was able to supply the breath.

“My uncle understood something of the value of the gift as a novelty, and when a man named P. T. Barnum came to our town from America with a small concert company in which was a lady named Jenny Lind, the subject of my unusual musical aptitude on that one instrument was broached. Being so young I was not consulted as to the details of the arrangements that were made between my uncle and Barnum but it resulted in my engaging to travel with the concert company.

“We played in our town for a while, my work on the harmonica being to do solo stunts between acts, and to play with the small orchestra when Jenny Lind sang. My recollection is that the orchestra had four pieces besides my wind instrument. We drew large crowds, and my recollection now is that the performance on the mouth-organ was considered a most wonderful freak of a boy wonder.”

I don’t know if Chris Bathman was really the first professional harmonica player, but there have been several notable players since then.

Back in the 1930s and 1940s there were some famous harmonica orchestras playing vaudeville. My favorite of those (you just knew I had a favorite vaudevillian harmonica orchestra, right?) was Borrah Minevitch and his Harmonica Rascals.

In the 1940s, Warner Brothers produced a 10 minute short featuring Borrah and his Rascals called Borrah Minevitch And His Harmonica School. If you ever get a chance to see the whole thing, I highly recommend it. They do things with harmonicas that you’ve never heard before.

The most I was able to find is this low-quality clip on YouTube which, if memory serves, is the first two minutes of the Warner Brothers short:

Today I think we most often associate harmonica with country or blues. But the harmonica is still played in diverse genres. Few people can match Larry Adler‘s skills in multiple styles in a career which spanned several decades. Here, watch Adler and Itzchak Perlman performing George Gershwin:

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Written by David

April 7th, 2011 at 11:00 am

Posted in Entertainment,Music

What Is The Difference Between Richard And Johann Strauss?

From March 26, 1911

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RICHARD AND JOHANN STRAUSS?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RICHARD AND JOHANN STRAUSS? The “Real Richard” and How He Expresses Himself in “Der Rosenkavalier.” (PDF)

This is easy. One of them wrote music famously featured in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. The other one, um, also had music prominently used in that movie.

Okay, let me try again. One of them is Austrian, and one of them is… um… German?

Okay, I give up. What does the article say?

If you want to see a hitherto peaceful human face mobilize twenty thousand warlike expressions within one brief and crowded moment of glorious life step up to a man with music in his soul and say:

“Is there any difference between Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss?”

He will either walk away, brutally insult you, or start to explain the difference, in which case he will drain the dictionary in twenty-four minutes and go insane in thirty-five. If you do not believe the above seek out that friend of yours who simply dotes on modern music, hold him firmly by the sleeve so that he can’t walk away, invite him to have a drink so that he can’t insult you, and then pop the question.

If, at the end of twenty minutes’ explanation, his condition (and yours) does not cause you acute concern, why — but it will, don’t you worry, it will.

Alpha and Omega, Zenith and Nadir, north pole and south pole — not one of those combinations suggests to the average man a greater difference between its component parts than does, to the musician, the juxtaposition of Richard Strauss and Johann Strauss. In fact, it is a common thing to see wild-eyed highbrows running round and round the most select musical circles, vainly inquiring by what cosmic freak the constructor of that tempestuous thing, “Elektra,” ever got tagged with the identical name borne by him who gave us “The Blue Danube.”

Discord, violence, horrible shrieks in the night, possible police interference — that’s what Richard Strauss has always meant. Was it not he who gave us “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” which sounds even worse set to music, and “Salome,” beside which the orchestral complications of Richard Wagner sound like those five-finger exercises that mother used to make us do?

Wow, okay, so the difference I guess is that Richard Strauss sucks and Johann Strauss is awesome.

Now would someone please explain to me the difference between Ke$ha and Katy Perry?

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Written by David

March 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am

Posted in Entertainment,Music

Circus Acrobat Woos Death Daily, But Rarely Weds Her

From March 19, 1911

CIRCUS ACROBAT WOOS DEATH DAILY, BUT RARELY WEDS HER

CIRCUS ACROBAT WOOS DEATH DAILY, BUT RARELY WEDS HER: Surprisingly Small Percentage of Fatal Accidents Occur in a Year, Though the Performers Take Big Risks. (PDF)

“There is so much dash, so much apparent abandon, in the kaleidoscopic whirl which makes up the present-day three-ringed circus that the dazed spectator goes away with the feeling that the whole thing has been tumbled together at haphazard, that the big gates at the end of the arena simply bubble out their endless profusion of elephants, tumblers, camels, bareback riders, trained monkeys, and clowns; that each does his own peculiar stunt and then in his own good time disappears in a cloud of glory, tanbark, and sawdust.

“But if you could ask that obscure but very important circus personage, the programme maker, he would tell you a very different story. What seems a wild riot of stunts is in reality a carefully timed, carefully constructed mosaic.”

You know what? This article is interesting and all, but if the topic interests you even a little bit, I highly recommend you watch the PBS documentary series Circus. It’s an incredibly engaging look behind the scenes of the Big Apple Circus, and it can be watched in its entirety streaming for free on PBS.com. If it’s more convenient, you can also catch it streaming on Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video.

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Written by David

March 17th, 2011 at 9:15 am