I recently acquired some old copies of Perry's Musical Magazine which
was published in Sedalia, Missouri, during the early part of the
twentieth century. Besides the hard-to-find sheet music selections,
there are some amusing articles. The following piece was published in
"Gottschalk's View of the Importance of Personal Appearance"
The days of the velvet coat and the flowing tie allied to greasy hair
and a general unkempt appearance among musicians are now about over.
So far as the velvet coat and the flowing tie are concerned, their
departure is somewhat to be regretted. It is getting difficult to
distinguish a musical genius from ordinary people such as bank
presidents, supreme court judges, and other common objects of the
pavement. Cleanliness, however, is to be welcomed but is not so novel
among musicians as some people think. Louis Moreau Gottschalk, the
first American to win real distinction as a concert pianist and
composer of the "Last Hope," was much addicted to the velvet coat and
flowing tie, but was nevertheless perfectly sanitary in his habits.
In connection with his hatred of unkemptness, Clara M. Brinkerhoff,
a life-long friends of his, has related the following incident:
He had a pupil who was in many respects an admirable man, but had to
him most objectionable faults. His hands were hardly ever strictly
clean, nails never; his teeth showed that tobacco was not a stranger to
his mouth; his linen was often tumbled and soiled. Gottschalk meant to
send him away after the first lesson; but when the man turned his eyes
on him and thanked him so heartily for his teaching, he had not the
heart to tell him not to come. He endured it for three more lessons:
no improvement had been made in his pupil's appearance. He asked
Gottschalk something about his music. His teacher answered him that
the first thing necessary for a pianist and teacher was to be a
gentleman; and the first thing necessary to being a gentleman was clean
hands: well-kept nails and teeth, and unspotted linen. A man who was
careless in these points lack self-respect, and also respect for
"It was a strange sight to see the young man glance at his soiled cuffs
and hands, and then jump up from the piano and beg Gottschalk's pardon
for thus offending. It corrected his carelessness, and pupil and
master became firm friends."
Player Piano and Mechanical Music Exchange
[ says that Gottschalk dedicated a composition to Clara Brinkerhoff.
[ -- Robbie