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MMD > Archives > August 1998 > 1998.08.07 > 03Prev  Next

Max Kortlander on Pathe Records
By Frank Himpsl

I enjoyed reading Doug Henderson's very interesting comments and
recollections regarding Max Kortlander and his limited recording
activities on 78-rpm discs.

I also have long debated the legitimacy of recording credits, on both
records and rolls.   In the case of the sole Kortlander recording on
Pathe (which is a duet with Victor Arden) I've always felt reasonably
comfortable that this is in fact an acoustic record of these gentlemen
playing live duet piano.   One of the reasons is that Kortlander's 1920
pop song "Anytime Anyday Anywhere" is featured on one of the record

Kortlander had a major hit composition the preceding year with his
popular ballad "Tell Me," which by all accounts made him quite a bit of
money.    In 1920 he was already a highly established roll artist, and
it seems to make sense that he might have considered such a recording
date so as to popularize his newest song effort.

Victor Arden (pseudonym of Lewis J. Fuiks) was still rather new to QRS
in 1920, having started making rolls with them the preceding year after
ceasing roll recording for Imperial and Rythmodik roll companies.

It's interesting to note that the original Pathe record is inscribed
"Max Kortlander and Victor Arden" on the artist credit.   Kortlander
was the bigger name at the time.  There is not a single QRS roll
labeled with that ordering of these two duet artists, but many
hundreds were released as played by "Arden and Kortlander."

It was just about the 1920-21 time frame when Victor Arden's association
with fellow piano giant Phil Ohman really took hold of the public
interest, and from their Victor recordings (both piano duet and with
orchestra) as well as many dozens of QRS rolls, Arden must have been
something of a superstar for the time.   And so, I speculate that
Arden's popularity quickly overshadowed Max, who returned to what he
did best, the piano roll arranging.   Hence there was little further
78-rpm recording activity on his part.

From personal accounts of both the Fuiks and the Ohman families, Arden
was an absolute workaholic, and had no problem maintaining band
dates, recordings, as well as an enormous amount of editing work for
the QRS factory in Chicago.   He was a world class pianist, arranger
and all-around musician.

I believe that virtually all of the QRS piano rolls attributed to Max
Kortlander as SOLOS, and 1918 OR EARLIER, are essentially true
hand-played records of his playing.   He was a fine pianist, and still
could play very well in circa 1951 when he made a few private acetates
at QRS.

The earlier rolls attributed to "Baxter and Kortlander," which is a
huge majority of his output from this period, are highly arranged
affairs which Max undoubtedly worked out at the drawing board.  They
seldom have the true duet feeling which is present in the later, circa
1919-21 roll duets credited to Arden and Ohman.

I fully agree with Doug about Kortlander rolls after about 1921 or
so, that being they maintain a hand-played flair, but are predominantly
arrangements, exquisitely conceived.

In later years I believe Max was fully wrapped up in the business end
of things, especially after taking ownership of the company, and had
little musical involvement.

Frank Himpsl

 [ Modesty seems to be a Kortlander trademark: he was content with
 [ second billing.  In the world of automobiles I think only Ford
 [ reserves the company name for the _least expensive_ product, and
 [ in player pianos it's the simple Aeolian.  -- Robbie

(Message sent Fri 7 Aug 1998, 04:35:27 GMT, from time zone GMT-0400.)

Key Words in Subject:  Kortlander, Max, Pathe, Records

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