Above: Pauline Alpert, c. 1920.
Old Carpet Rag (1911) Tolbert R. Ingram Music, Denver,
That Hateful Rag (1925) self-published, Des Moines,
A Bit O' Sunshine: Novelty Two Step (date unknown)
and Grand March to Jones' (1907) Jones Publishing Co.,
Kansas City, Missouri.
Gobler Rag (1913) Shattinger Music Co., St. Louis.
Allen, Louise L.
From 1915 to 1930 Louise Allen was
listed in the St. Louis, Missouri directories as a music teacher.
The 1925 directory noted that she was the widow of Wm. L. Allen,
Vice President of the Allen Coffee Company, 211 Vine, St. Louis,
Missouri. The "glide" was a popular dance when this
piece was published.
The Allen Glide (1915) Syndicate Music Co., St.
Allyn, Opal A.
The Opalescent Rag (no date) self-published, Modesto,
(Born, December 27th, 1900,
New York, New York; died, April 11th, 1988, Bronx, New York.)
Frequently billed as the "Whirlwind Pianist" or the
"Lindberg of the Piano," Pauline Alpert was a vaudeville,
concert, radio, and TV star, a recording artist, and the creator
of over 500 piano rolls for Duo-Art. She also arranged and composed
piano solos such as "Dream of a Doll," "The Merry
Minnow," and "March of the Blues," published by
Mills Music Company, New York. Alpert spent her childhood in
Rochester, New York and music was an important part of her upbringing.
Her mother, Anna (Rosh) Alpert was an opera singer. Sibley Music
Library in Rochester, which holds Alpert's collection of scrapbooks
and clippings, reports that she graduated from East High School
in Rochester, earning a piano scholarship to the Eastman School
of Music, studying briefly under Selim Palmgren. Alpert started
out to become a classical concert pianist but was later won over
to jazz. She toured the United States as a stage soloist in vaudeville
and was a recording artist for RCA Victor, Sonora, Pilot-Tone,
and Rabson. On the liner notes for Sparkling Piano Melodies by
Pauline Alpert (Sonora MS-460), Broadway columnist, Nick Kenny
is quoted as saying:
Pauline Alpert takes a piano apart, she babies it,
she scolds it, and she makes it stand up on its sounding board
and hollar "Auntie." Here is classical skill in modern
tempo at its peak. And we do mean "peak."
Alpert was a frequent guest soloist for top radio
and television stars such as Paul Whiteman, Rudy Valle, and Fred
Allen, who called her "the young lady who sounds like two
pianos." Eventually she had her own semi-weekly show on
radio WOR, New York. She was also featured in a Vitaphone two-reeler:
Katz' Pajamas - a Fif D'Orsay, Pauline Alpert Musical.
People attending the 1979 AMICA (Automatic Musical Instruments
Collectors' Association) convention in Philadelphia had the distinct
pleasure of meeting Pauline Alpert, by then nearly 80, who performed
for their Saturday evening concert. Molly Yeckley reviewed the
performance for Mechanical Music Digest, saying: "I counted
10 songs, mad applause, another 10 songs, more applause, and
then another 10 songs for a finaleFrom slow to fastto peppy and
finger-tangling, except that her fingers don't tangle."
Afterwards, Rick Inzero reported hearing Alpert apologize to
the piano owner for "messing up the piano." Apparently
she played so hard, her fingers bled on the keys. Craig Brougher
had a chance to converse with Alpert at that meeting, recalling
that she sounded bitter about the way women were treated in her
day. She claimed she received only $50 per recording from Duo
Art, mainly because she was a woman. Brougher also spoke with
Robert Armbruster, the chief editor and head of Duo-Art's recording
department, who admitted that Alpert played so fast and profusely,
he had to ask her to slow down and play fewer notes, fearing
no one would believe it was a hand-played roll. Thanks to the
work of Artis Wodehouse, Alpert's incredible playing style can
be heard on the Pauline Albert collection, Vol. 1 of Keyboard
Wizards of the Gershwin Era (Pearl Records, 1995).
Perils of Pauline (1927) Jack Mills Inc., New York.
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