Monday, August 20, 2018

Ta-ra-ra-boom-de ... oy?

On my wanderings in Blois, I happened on another splendidly fun musical item in the shape of an 1890s French music-sheet of that favourite music-hall song known to turn-of-the-century lovers of great music as 'Ta ra ra boom de ay' (spelling, as you can see, varies).

It is clearly a cheap edition, but the song was highly popular, as an adjunct to the performances of the saucier songstresses of the Paris halls, for some years, going as far as becoming the title of a successful revue at the Ambassadeurs, so I guess a cheap edition was in order. I don't think any of the four ladies named above would like to think that they had legs like that.

Marguerite Duclerc (?1896-1902) is usually stated to have been the first to perform the song in France. A dark, frenetically energetic dancer and chanteuse, she had half a dozen years of high popularity but it was this song that 'a definitivement classée cette artiste parmi nos étoiles parisiennes'.

The lass who called herself Valentine Valti (1868-1940) was another of the same kind of performer, if rather less somulderingly earthy than Duclerc. She lasted longer in public favour, and much longer on this earth

Less celebrated was the lady known as 'Mlle Genève', who I must admit not having heard of. However, she is spoken of in the press in the warmest of terms as a revue actress, singer and dancer ... there she is featured at the Alcazar d'Éte, the Horloge, the Moulin Rouge ... so I shall have to look into her sometime

And Polaire? Well, I don't need to tell you about Polaire. Fifty thousand Frenchman have done it already!

The sheet music also proclaims that the words are by 'Fabrice Lemon' (Gabriel Lemoine) a practised provider of music-hall words

and the music by Édouard Deransart (d 1905), a prolific musician: composer, arranger, songwriter and revueist. Really? I grant Monsieur Lemon his paroles, but the music ...? Ah. If you go back to an earlier edition the music is 'arranged by' Deransart. Not the first time in musical history that those important words have just ... slipped out of a credit.

So, 'Tarara' had its years of French glory, but the title will remain forever connected to the name of Lottie Collins who turned it from an American nothing-or-other into a world-wide hit by her performances of what became the definitive version (lyrics Richard Morton, arrangement Angelo Asher) in the music halls of England.

So, moving backwards ...

Lottie seems to have first performed her made-over version of the song in the London music-halls in December of 1891, and she introduced it, weeks later, into her pantomime, Dick Whittington, at the Islington Grand with decided success. ('It is not exactly what she does, it's the way in which she does it'). Her agent, 'Hugh Didcott' (Morris Josephs) quickly handed it out to his other clients -- 'George Beauchamp', Marie Loftus, Marie Lloyd, Millie Steele -- and the ripoffs began ..

Well, Lottie made the song, and the song made Lottie ... and I was happy to leave it at that, until today, when I chanced on an article entitled 'The black origins of  Ta-ra-ra- (etc)'. It's all taken from secondary sources and those 'memoirs' of folk who want to be 'sexy' ('St Louis brothel', creole danseuses with no underclothes, some mythical big mammy singing songs in 1891 that weren't published till 1896). Ms Bellanta, the article's writer, inquires no further (as she straightforwardly says) than these secondary sources. But 'black'? Prove it. 

So. Back further. Yes. A song called 'Ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ré' was sung in the popular little musical comedy Tuxedo. Tuxedo was a novel show. A rather original 'farce comedy'. A 'Farce comedy' of this kind consisted of a musical comedy which dissolved, for its second half, into a concert. But Tuxedo was different: it dissolved into a real, American minstrel show, performed, in this case, by the well-known George Thatcher and his troupe. All male. And white face. 'Ta-ra-ra' was, however, not sung in the minstrel show, nor by 'a woman of the company', it was sung, in whatever form, by all the girls, as a finale to the piece's first half. This version became credited to Harry J Sayers, the manager for Rich and Harris, the producers of the show, who -- like Deransart and Asher -- had apparently more or less 'arranged' the piece for Tuxedo. Tuxedo was produced at Lincoln, Neb 23 July 1891, and after a tour of mainly 1-2 night stands, opened at New York's Park Theatre 5 October. Which was allegedly when Lottie Collins' then husband, Cooney, who was part of the producing management, picked it up, and the rest is history. From Lincoln to London in just five months.

So, can we go back further than Tuxedo? A little. Beyond the maybe-mammy in St Louis anyway. When the song became a hit in England there were, of course, attempts to 'pilfer' it. And so it came to court, and there the law was presented with an affadavit from star American singer and actress, Flora Moore, which affirmed that she had sung the song in the early 1880s. Around this time, Flora had been starring in the loosely-musicked hit shows A Bunch of Keys and A Rag Baby, so maybe our song had even been heard in a theatre before Tuxedo. 

Well, I don't suppose we'll ever know how much further back the tune (which has a distinct German ring to it, to my ear) and ever-changing words go. Like Topsy it seems not to have been born, but just growed up. But to attribute it to Mammy in St Louis, merely to fit an agenda, or to dub it 'blackface' (which it wasn't), is not on. So, any sightings before c1884, please report. Especially if you were there in person.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Pretty Polish girl who sat astride her virtue..

My last post and its original five pictures, borrowed from the gold mines of Blois, included four taken from the great-opéras-bouffes, and one that wasn't. So why, then, was I interested in 'La Belle Polonaise'. Well, apart from the fact that it was a great sheet-music cover, it was Joseph Kelm.

Joseph Kelm (né Kahenn, 1805-1882) was the son of a Jewish shopkeeper, who began his career as a  serious tenor vocalist. In that capacity he even took a tiny part in Paris's first Lucia di Lammermoor. But after a while, the 'short fat' performer shifted his efforts to the straight theatre, and there he walked into musical-theatre history. Rightly or wrongly, he is credited with being in at the birth of opéra-bouffe. Those folk who like to label 'the first' this and 'the first' that, posit Hervé's little 2-hander sketch, Don Quichotte et Sâncho Pança, written to be played at Kelm' Benefit, as the white stone show.

Kelm subsequently played in a goodly number of the early musical playlets produced by Hervé and Offenbach before they went their separate way, all to memorable success. Hervé and Offenbach, we of course, know about, but Kelm? He headed to the great music halls of Paris and the provinces, there to find enormous success with his comic songs and scenas

He introduced many pieces which became favourites

To the delight of audiences and critics

'La Belle Polonaise', in case you were wondering, was sung by Kelm in the character of a saucy circus lass from Krrrrrrrracow:

Je suis née à Cracovie
De parents inconnus
Les details de ma vie
N’vous sont point parvenus
A l’exemple de Joconde
J’ai très longtemps parcouru
Les quatre parti’s du monde
A cheval sur la vertu.

Pourquoi? Parce que …
Je suis Polonaise, oui-dà
Je me nomme Lodoïska…

She sat 'astride her virtue' in all corners of the globe, each adventure ending with a rousing chorus.

Monsieur Kelm could be spoken of in the same breath as the great Thérésa... and was.

PS My friend Sean Stephane Martin has come up with a delicious bit of information about this song. It was, he tells me, used by Giraudoux in his memorable play La Folle de Chaillot. woweee!

Ramoni7: a treasure-chest of C19th music!

4pm. That makes 10 hours that I've been sitting here ... with little loo, turkey fillets and courgette soup breaks. Why such a stint? I got entranced ...

You know I do e-bay with breakfast. Well, today I was in a bit of a snit with English/American e-bay, following on the perfidious behaviour of "1 moment in time" aka Rachel something, yesterday. I woke to find that she had campily refused to let us have the article we had paid for in full, and told e-bay that Allister's 'address didn't match'. Funny, that all the other stuff he bought from her arrived no trouble. I actually didn't want the picture. I was just ensuring that she got the 20 quid we were accused of 'stealing' from her, to support what she said was her three disabled children ... I have a feeling it may be she that is the disabled one. And where's the husband? Anyway, when we're spending money, we don't need that merde ... so this morning I skipped my usual e-bay, and went to e-bay (France) for my enjoyment.

Well! I may never return. What a trove! And why is the French site so much better organised than the English one, why do the vendors in France manage to describe accurately and comprehensibly their items in a manner that the English so rarely do? The vendors in France behave like professionals (which I'm sure many of them are), the English 90% of the time have no idea what they are selling and cannot even read C19th writing ... example: Madame Rachel. Yet, in spite of needing L20 (obviously not ours) to feed her starving infants, she has several thousand items for sale on e-bay. Tiens! We went through the whole lot last night. I slept well. There wasn't one amongst them worth more than $5.

So. End of rant. Here I am on e-bay France. And by the inscrutable law of inscrutability I hit 'antique sheet music' instead of 'antique photos'. I do that, with my paralysed hand. (It occasionally gets me to places I NEVER intended ...). And there I found gold. I have spent the whole day, up till now therein. Not even therein. The first item I investigated was from the site of ramoni7, of Blois, France. Ah! I've been to Blois ... suicidal castle and everything closed: must have been a Monday. This is the most mind-blowing music shop. Staggering stock of operatic scores, of sheet music from all C19th sources and, unlike the English e-bay, which allows plastic pix of Jennifer Lopez and Milly Cyrus, lightly clad, to be listed under 'vintage' photos, almost no badly categorised items. So, for seven hours, I have browsed intently through the 4,500 items on this wonderful site, sending out messages to all corners of my musical world ... this is for you!  No, not me: I've sold my huge collection to Harvard. But there are GEMS here ..

Hehe. End of introduction. So, putting aside the 'fishing' for friends, what did I get for me ..

Right. 1850s-1860s photography was not yet digital. So although there are photos of the artists from of the great era of the birth of opéra-bouffe, they are posed (hold it, 1 minute, two ..) and I find that sometimes the black-and-white artists, in their sketches, catch much more of the 'feeling of the thing. As follows:

See what I mean? And all these can be bought on this fabulous website ... a jewel box from the past. But I don't buy. I don't. Ever. I'm getting RID of not .....    OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!

I've got to have that! No, not because I want to plunge it into a collector's cupboard, but because ... nobody else will know what it is, and it will get chucked out (as it is being effectively) and I shall restore it to its rightful place in the starosphere ...

Fists clenched. And wait. And if you are interested in scores and music, hasten to Raymond de Blois ... best music shop I've found since that little back street store in Nice, where it seemed the Nice Opéra had dumped fifty years of their used scores ...  

Yayyyyyyyy! We got it! $19 including postage! Cheaper than Madame Rachel's nobody wedding pic! And 10,000 times more important... the young lady who composed this  ditty became an international star .. under a different name or two .. but that's another blog ..

Friday, August 17, 2018

The dreadful tale of a deserted soprano ...


This tale is told in my recent Victorian Vocalists, but I think it bears repeating on line ...

HIRLEMANN, Adelina(b c 1853; d London February 1886)

‘A sufficiently grim tragedy is reported among the consequences of the late dreadful weather. It relates to the death of Mme Hurleman (sic), the singer, with whose singing doubtless many readers were familiar. The career of a foreign singer or musician in London is after this fashion. She must begin by obtaining an introduction to one of those hostesses whom Mr Du Maurier has satirized under the name of Mrs Ponsonby de Tomkyns. ‘Mrs Ponsonby de Tomkyns’, in real life, is not necessarily a woman, much less a British subject. Indeed, some of the most advantageous of the De Tomkyns tribe are bachelors, two or three of them being of foreign extraction. The stock in trade of a Ponsonby de Tomkyns is a large and carefully assorted acquaintance, one half consisting of millionaires and grandees, the other half of beauties and geniuses. It is a rule of the De Tomkyns tribe never to remunerate any genius for anything genius may do in entertaining and amusing its fellow guests. The idea is, or rather was, that genius was sufficiently advantaged by being heard in the de Tomkyns drawing room by the rich or great, who might hire it for an entertainment of its own…. This system worked well for the genius in the old and prosperous days, as every gratuitous appearance at a de Tomkyns House meant two or three paying engagements at the houses of the undistinguished rich. But times have changed. Duchesses don’t give parties in these days of Agricultural Depression. They sponge on Mr Ponsonby de Tomkyns for a supper. Mme Hurlemann was well launched on the world above described, and was supposed by her patronesses to be getting on ‘very nicely’ but in fact she was starving and penniless. She never begged or borrowed, and no one knew of her trouble. She fought bravely and proudly on, and hoped things would mend. One bitter snowy Sunday night, some weeks since, she was invited to a particularly smart party. She had no money for a cab. She went as near the house as she could in ‘the Underground’ and walked the rest of the way through the snow. The party was full of angels, aristocrats, actors, ambassadors, artists, authors and Americans, with a civilised Home Ruler thrown in to give piquancy to the occasion. Mme Hurlemann’s singing was an immense triumph. Probably, she laid the foundation of a hundred pounds’ worth of engagements. She walked back to the train in the snow. During the night she awoke with congestion of the lungs. In a few days she was dead of her cold, aggravated by starvation. All she left was eight shillings – and a little girl of six years old …’

If the tale were told in a sob style, redolent of The Little Match Girl, Madame Hirlemann’s death was a fact. But who was she? 

She arrived in Britain in 1884, and seems to have been first heard at the concerts staged at the Albert Hall in connection with the International Health Exhibition, alongside Henry Pope, Sydney Tower, Eleanor Farnol, D’Arcy Ferris and many unknown to fame. However, a few weeks later, the Albert Hall hosted the first British concert Parsifal. The leads were sung by Germans, but a curious little band of ladies was put together to sing the flower-maidens: Agnese Thorndike, Mrs Hutchinson, Marian Fenna, Beata Francis, Mrs Norman[-Stuart], Hilda Coward and Mme Hirlemann. It seemed more like a cast list for a society soiree than a Wagnerian concert.

On 4 December 1884, Mme Hirlemann went to Exeter to sing in Farley Sinkins’ concerts, and we were vouchsafed that she had ‘appeared with very great success at the Grand Opera House, Milan, and has just returned from a year in China and Japan’. Well, I don’t know about Milan, but the Orient was true. In 1880, the French paper La Justicemockingly reported that a poster in Saigon was advertising La Fille du régiment featuring Madame Hirlemann’s ‘premier prix du Conservatoire de Paris’. He was seemingly right to mock. Adeline may have been at the Conservatoire, but I can’t find her. However, The Straits Times pins M et Mme Hirlemann (‘a sweet and powerful voice’) in the east in November 1878. And Monsieur is ‘the pianist and composer’. Is this Michel-Théophile Hirlemann (b Wintzenheim 29 September 1855; d ?Paris 27 June 1927) composer of the opérette Mam’zelle Trompette?

Through 1885, Mme Hirlemann was constantly to be heard at various fashionable homes, in the company of others of the frequenters of such concerts: George Power, Alexandra Ehrenberg, Mrs Hutchinson, Monari Rocca, Mathilde Zimeri, Carlotta Elliot and, above all, the king of the society dinner and concert circuit of the period, Isidore Cohen known as ‘de Lara’. I spot her at John Child’s concert chez Mr and Mrs Henry Lumley, at Mr F von Zastrow’s concert at Captain and Mrs Laing’s, at the Prince’s Hall for Mario Costa (‘Chanson de Barberine’ ‘exquisitely’, ‘Lontana’ ‘with so much fervour’) and various soirées artistiques with de Lara, at Donald de Vere Graham’s concert in the salon of the Howard Cockrells, or for Mlle Enstrom at the home of the tanning mogul, Foster Mortimore. She returned to the Albert Hall on the occasion of the International Inventions Exhibition ballad concerts, the to Prince’s Hall to sing with pianist Jenny Viard Louis (‘Ah perfido’), for Mrs Osborne Williams, Therese Castellan, Van Lennep, and Costa again (‘Lontana’, ‘Un organetto’), at Miss Luranah Aldridge’s matinee, for Clement Hoey Esq at the Victoria Hall, as well as mounting a couple of evenings of her own, at the Marlborough Rooms (Rode’s Air and Variations) and Brixton Hall.
And there were doubtless more, unreported evenings in private homes …

The Brixton concert is the last I can find. If the soiree described by our journalist was fact and not fiction, it was unreported.

The Ponsonby de Tomkyns circuit, George Power and Mr Cockrell at their head, staged a matinee for the benefit of the semi-orphaned child. Marie Tempest and Hope Temple sang, as, of course so did de Lara. But the following month there was another Benefit, put up by the amateurs of the Kendal Dramatic Club. I wonder what the connection was. De Lara, of course, supplied songs between the amateur plays.

Well, I’ve tried to find who Mme Hirlemann actually was. That piano-playing Monsieur out east … Yes! I was right, it’s Théophile, all right! Here is the proof, dredged from the Orient, 1879-1880. ‘We had with us Mme Th Hirlemann, a French coloratura singer of considerable talent, who used to sing arias from grand operas during our intermissions.  At hearing her, on the first night, make her usual trills, cadences and chromatic scales, the Japanese audience was convulsed with laughter, and considered her musical efforts the height of comedy. The lady in question felt herself highly insulted.  It was with the greatest difficulty that Mme Hirlemann could be persuaded to go on any more, after our opening night, as the same hilarity would be shown by the audience every night.’

So she was the wife of the Alsatian pianist and, later, rising salon songwriter. Who seemingly had abandoned her and their (?) child. I reckon so. Now I just need a marriage or birth register …

Thursday, August 16, 2018

From Bacon and Eggs to Beaminster ...

Well, I had my well-earned bacon (splendid shortcut from Cole's) and eggs (the biggest yellowest very-free-range eggs ever, from the amazing Mr Gallagher of Kungala Rd), but you have to do something between mouthsful ...

And there was this on my screen :

Victorian Cabinet Card: Hargreaves: Dorchester: 1863: Very Unusual Brides?

I turned it over, and handwritten on the back in pencil is 'S H Hargreaves, Dorchester, August 1863'. Wait. That's not a 3. Its a lazy five. 

Easy, this one. It wasn't taken at Dorchester. And Mr Hargreaves was't the photographer. He was just one of the subscribers to the photograph, taken by the local Mr Stringfellow, of this bridal beanfast at Beaminster, Dorset, 24k from Dorchester, in August 1865. And, probably, a wedding guest. Of course, there was only one bride: that's her, Sarah Hine (b Beaminster 18 May 1837; d Ross-on-Wye 1906), seated at the front. The rest are her bevy of bridesmaids, as listed in the local press ...

Mr Hargreaves doesn't get a mention, but see! Mr Stringfellow's photo does. Fancy a copy having survived 150 years ...

Until nowadays, when we can easily find that all these 'Esq's were nothing of the sort. Sarah's papa, the widowed Phillip Hine was a wine merchant, of Beaminster East Street. Obviously they drank a lot down Dorset way for him to be able to splash out on such a showy wedding. Especially when he had weddings for Susan, Clara and Emily yet to come.

Bridegroom, George Heywood Hadfield followed his father into the chemical manure business in Cheshire, the couple had three sons and a daughter, Sarah died in 1906 and George in 1910. hosts a family tree of the Himes and Hadfields. So there's someone out there who I think would love this photo ... if they knew, as I do, that that's what it is!

Well, a curious epilogue to this story. We sent the vendor this bloglet, as we did yesterday with the owner of the Scottish photo. Provenance and correct identification can, of course, make the value of an unidentified item soar by 500%. Jim the Scot wrote us back with torrid thanks. This woman (who trades as "1 moment in time") wrote back with a turbulence of fury. We had stolen her 20L image. Well, of course, everyone of any knowledge/experience knows that there is no 'ownership' or 'copyright' in a published image ... however, rather than cause wavelets in my wineglass, we sent her L20, bought the thing, and I shall now track down the family and .. well, maybe resell it for L200. Or shall I just give it to the local Hist Soc .. I mean L20? It's not even a bottle of wine. Which reminds me ...

The Mysterious Mr Montgomery, or Delving in Dumbartonshire...

I know. Its a strange hobby. Dipping into ebay over breakfast. I don't buy anything, because they won't let me. They say that my email of forever and my password (which they gave me) don't match, so I can't sign in. And if I try to change the password, they say they will send me a TXT with a code. I don't have a TXT machine. It's simply too exhausting to worry with. Mind you, they are probably better off without me: I'd be on to them squalling about the fake listings, the false identifications ...

Anyway, the seller of my favourite item today isn't faking ... he just admits that he hasn't the faintest what his delicious photo is. Two lads outside a meat and chook shop owned by one 'A Montgomery'. No place, no photographer's name: the back of the card is blank.

OK, Kurt. No bacon and farm fresh eggs till you've solved this one.

Well, I plumped straight away for late 19th century Scotland. It looks so like the photo I have of my grandad outside his tailor's shop in Perthshire. So ...

Answer. This photo is from Kirkintilloch, Dumbartonshire. The 101 is 101 Townhead where an Andrew Montgomery (b 1873) worked as a teenager as 'assistant to a general dealer'. There are quite a few Andrew Montgomerys in Victorian Kirkintilloch, and even in Townhead, where a widowed Mrs Andrew M née Helen Cooper with three daughters married a James Baird of no 104 ... It was perhaps her late husband (d 1863) who did the poultry. But of course it could be the Andrew who died 1903 aged 60. Or 1916 aged 65. Or 1929 aged 69.

Anyway, these days there is no Mr Montgomery. 101 is the headquarters of something named Project 101.

Bacon and eggs time, I feel.

Angelina, or original cast photos from 1873

Earlier this week, my breakfast time ramble on ebay (new mysteries daily!) threw up three unlabelled, unidentified theatrical action photos from the 1870s. Fradelle and Marshall: photographers. So, thus from 1872-6 when that firm was active. Not ‘1880s’ as the caption said. Peer at the pictures … can I recognise anyone? I'm not very good at this ... but I think so! Ada Swanborough. 

So that would be the Strand Theatre … and so that would be H J Byron  … what was the theatre playing in 1872-3, and with whom? 

Short answer: the play Not Such a Fool as he Looks (that’s the one with Miss Swanborough) and the hit musical comedy Nemesis, later followed by Eldorado …  And yes, that’s what these are: original cast (posed) action photographs for the 1870s! Wow! So here (below) we have Edward Terry in the middle, as Calino in Nemesis, being restrained by Claude Marius in whiskers (Major), and flanked by Harry Cox (Potiphar, striped pants) as the fathers of Calino’s two wives, there’s Johnnie Wallace, and the two guardsmen are H J Turner and H Carter. A whole male era of the Strand Theatre in one photo. And in such an important show … one might even call it Britain’s first ‘musical comedy’. Like ground (re)breaking shows such as The Pink Lady, thirty odd years later, it was a musicalized Palais Royal farce (Les Deux Noces de M Boisjoli) with all that meant in skillful plotting, construction and dialogue. And the music? – a pilfered selection from the best of Paris’s latest opéras-bouffes.

Having pinned down my show, I hurried to the V&A’s Guy Little Collection for confirmation and, yes! There was my photo and a whole lot of others from the same show. Including, this time, the ladies: Maria Jones, Sallie Turner, Topsy Venn and, as the two wives, Nellie Bromley and Angelina Claude. 

Angelina Claude. Obviously a pseudonym. And a conundrum. Who was this little lady who appeared from the depths of the provinces to star in Nemesis and its successors for a handful of years, with enormous success, and then vanished utterly from the theatrical world …? So, of course, I investigated. And the first thing I discovered was … it wasn’t a pseudonym! She was christened Angelina, like her mother, whose second husband was an unfortunate Monsieur Claude of New Orleans. The second thing I discovered was that I’d let myself in for a genealogical marathon. Angelina was a twig on a large theatrical family tree, which had to be investigated.

Angelina was born 26 March 1850 in Liverpool, and christened in Manchester, as her parents toured the midlands. Her father was Mr Henry Matthewman (1821-1856) actor, and more significantly, dancer and pantomimist; her mother ‘Mdlle Angelina’ (Angelina Matilda Treat) (1825-1876) was a dancer and Columbine. I see them as early as 1847 at York, then Whitehaven, Manchester, Leeds (training the local children for the theatre), Sheffield, Liverpool, Bradford, Dublin – where he played The Dumb Man of Manchester and the pair played the annual harlequinade. They were rising in the profession nicely, and decided on the big leap. America. There, too, Matthewman became quickly established. And suddenly, 25 April 1856, at the age of 34, he died.

Angelina remarried in America -- Mr Camille Bernard Claude – and the ‘family’ stayed some five years in America before crossing back to Liverpool, where Angelina I put Angelina II on the stage and Mr Claude having repudiated her in the press and courts (‘failure to provide’) shacked up with a Miss Margaret McGregor whom he eventually, after having bred, wed. So, exit Mr Claude. And enter the ‘Wonderful American child actress, danseuse and vocalist' ‘La petite Ange Claude’. ‘Ange’ started iffily when mamma sued Alex Henderson at the Prince of Wales for breach of contract. Henderson was the town’s most important producer, so mamma had cut off her nose. But the child was good, and quickly found a berth at the local Adelphi Theatre and then the Amphitheatre playing protean roles and pantomime. Hop o’ my Thumb in 1862, Harlequin and the Child of Hale in 1863. In that year, the well-known Mrs R[obert] Power and her son, pantomimist Robert Power (‘of Drury Lane’) were playing the Liverpool Theatre Royal. In 1864 Angelina was engaged for Plymouth where the pantomime was Mother Goose. Angelina was Phoebus and Power was clown. Before the season was over, fourteen year-old Angelina was pregnant and the two young people were married (28 January 1865). Carlotta Louise Power was born back in Liverpool before the end of 1865.

Now, Mr Power. If Angelina came from a successful dancing family, Power came from two. His father, Robert Power, comic dancer and pantomimist, one of a family of theatricals from Liverpool, had married Fannie LeClercq, the eldest daughter of an even more prolific dancing and acting family -- Charles (20 September 1797- 26 November 1861), Mme number 2 Margaret née Burnett (d 28 June 1889), Mlle [Margaret] Carlotta, Mlle Louise Mathilde, Mlle Rose Mary Ann, Mons Arthur L, Mons Charles A, Mons Pierre Paul Tertius, Mlle Pauline Alice, ?Mlle Clara, ?Mlle Marie – into which I am not going to venture, they being a book all by themselves.

Suffice it that, Fannie, after her husband’s death, metamorphosed into ‘Mrs R Power’, well known comic actress, and she worked up to 1894 as a character lady (The Lights o’ London) before her death, the following year, after sixty years on the stage.

Right. That’s the ancestors. Dyed in the wool theatricals every one. So there was little doubt which way young Angelina and her Robert would go. And they did. Although latterly not very often in the same show. Robert was strictly a pantomimist, Angelina was a lively soubrette actress with excellent dance training, obviously, a charming singing voice and a (stage) personality that made an audience smile and go ahhhh.

After a few post-marital years of appearing largely in pantomime (and producing two sons) in what remained of her teens, she ventured into burlesque and then joined the company at the consequent Prince’s Theatre, Manchester (she played alongside Selina Dolaro in panto!), and then with the fine touring comedy and burlesque troupe run by Joseph Eldred (Martha Bunn in Checkmate, Raleigh inLittle Amy Robsart, Mercury in Paris, Darnley in The Field of the Cloth of Gold, Little Em’ly, Jack Onion in Love’s Doctor, Prince Halcyon in The Sleeping Beauty …

I suspect it of being H B Farnie who discovered this little lady in the provinces and cast her as leading lady in his new London show. As Rosalie Ramponneau in Nemesisshe won all hearts ‘a new and promising actress from the country ... triple encore … the brightest merriest little lady imaginable’ as Nemesis was boosted to ‘an almost unprecedented degree of popularity’. She had a particular success with rhe Tickling Song, ‘Ne me chatouillez pas’, which had been sung by Judic at the Eldorado music hall some years previously.

Nemesis was taken off after a huge ten months, and replaced by more of the same in Eldorado, itself replaced by … more Nemesis, then a revival of The Field of the Cloth of Gold with Angelina in the star Lydia Thompson role of Darnley with its Sneezing Song, before Farnie manufactured another major hit for the now favourite team based on the Parisian Le Carnaval d’un merle blancLoo, or the Party who Took Miss featured Angelina in the role played by the voluptuous Julia Baron in Paris, as a malicious little prima donna.
Both Nemesis and Loo stayed in the repertoire as Intimidad, Patient Penelope, Flamingo, Antarctica, Cracked Heads were all given a showing …

And Robert Power died. I notice Ange didn’t go to his funeral. And she didn’t miss a night .. I wonder … they were definitely together in 1870 and the 1871 census ..

But she soon would quit the stage. Not for the old husband, but for a new one. On 29 August 1876 Angelina Power wed the wealthy Dublin racing and theatre man, Richard Kavanagh, and put an end to her career. They would have nearly 30 years of marriage before his death in 1904 (7 December), a marriage which produced seven children, of which the actress ‘Toby Claude’, who briefly married into another big theatre family, was the eldest.

George Edwardes had a character named Richard Kavanagh written into his show The Messenger Boy, so I imagine Kavanagh was not only a major shareholder in the Gaiety Theatre, Dublin, but also in its London filial of the same name.

Angelina remained in Ireland after her husband’s death, living with Carlotta (Charlotte) and the unmarried Kavanagh children, and she died in Dublin 1 January 1926.

She might have only had three years as a London star, but my goodness they were grand ones!

A few little umm corrections. The obit says that Robert Power was brother to music-hall favourite, Nellie Power. He was not. Nellie was born Ellen Maria Lingham, it was her mother who was Agnes née Power, which I believe makes them cousins.

An article on Marie Longmore of burlesque fame says she was sister to Mrs R Power. Do they mean senior or junior? As far as I know, Angelina had no sister. Are they saying she was Marie Leclercq? No. I refer to my ancient notes: ‘Alexander Longmore m Eleanor Swainson, St Phillips Birmingham 16 Sept 1832; she m (3) John Warde. She died 11 Oct 1881. Her 7th daughter is Mary (now Marie) Longmore (Mrs F W Humphreys). Seventh! ‘Her only daughter by her second marriage is Mrs R Power’. This, in a theatre magazine? Three Mrs R Powers are already enough. I think I shall ignore this.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Gosling = Gánsl?

My surname has undergone a few fairly subtle changes on its way through the last centuries: Gánsl, Ganzl, Gänzl .. etc. But the Austro-Hungarian variants of the name all mean the same thing. A little goose. A small goose. Well, perhaps a Gosling sounds less daft.

So I was rather tickled to see this item on e-bay this morning.

Adolf was the name my great-grandfather, Abráhám, went by, when he moved to Austria, and elided Gánsl into Ganzl.

Well, unsurprisingly to me, Herr Gosling doesn't turn up anywhere in the music papers of the turn of the century decades and doesn't seem to have written any more marches, so my first impression that this is a fake name, someone making a 'goose' joke, seemed bang on.

But, you know, you have to check. And do you know, there WAS an Adolph Gosling! Two actually. Father and son. There they are, living in New York, in 1860. Father is a German 'merchant' aged 30, from Osnabrück, mother Charlotte née Townsend is a native aged 35, then there are Carl (5) born Germany, Anna (3), born New York, and Adolph junior, aged 10 months and born in ... England? They have five servants, so Dadolph must have been a good merchant! And by 1865 he is the consul for Hannover in New York and a banker!

Son Adolph is documented. Adolph Herman Lotha[i]r Gosling, so his death certificate says, was born in Liverpool, England 15 July 1859 and died in Delaware, Pennsylvania of heart disease and bad indigestion 3 July 1910. Wife: Fannie Taber Moses. All straightforward. No it isn't. There is, officially, no A H Lothar Gosling born in London at that time. There's an Adolphus Lowther Dove ... no, that is really too ornithological!

And, of course, none of that tells us whether this prominent Pennsylvanian gentleman had anything to do with this piece of 'ganslmusik' from Chicago, or whether the publishers were just playing silly geese. Nor, indeed what Mr Gosling's name was originally. Gössling? Or Gansl. Or Schmidt? Because Goslings don't seem to be very easy to find in Osnabrück.

PS My friend Betsy in the USA has unearthed two more pieces by our Mr Gosling: a 'Golden Rod' (1885) and a 'Cotton Blossom', so it seems he was not just invented as a composer of waddle-music.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Suicide of a seaside artist?

We had heard some disturbing news. A corpse had been found in Crablo Kickasso's seaside studio.

We looked at each other in horror. Had my scathing review of the artist's recent exhibition led to ... oh no!

We hurried down the hill to the Main Beach studio... and breathed a sigh of relief. The shy artist had been at work. But what a difference! The excesses of the Jackson Polcrab movement had been abandoned, and replaced by a delightful minimalist style. To whit the 'from-life' 'Whale spouting off Main Beach' ..

The imaginative 'Autumn Leaves'

A delightfully minimalist expression -- Jackson Polcrab's mephistophelic influence has entirely vanished! 

We expressed our delight loudly, and the shy artist put up a claw to say 'thanks guys'

See it? And then he disappeared back into his ultra-private quarters ..

But what is this! He is introducing bichromism into his work ... ?

No, no, Crablo! I don't care for 'Rainclouds over Indonesia' ... stick with the minimalist approach.

But, anyway, glad to see that you didn't commit seaside because of a bad review. And we'll be back soon for your next exhibition!