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Duo-Art Recording of "Scherzo Waltz" by McNair Ilgenfritz
by Richard Stibbons (050726 MMDigest)

Mention of the "Scherzo Waltz" by Ilgenfritz prompts me to point to an interesting comparison.  The transcription on the late John Roache's web site is from an Ampico B roll published in August 1929.  However, Ilgenfritz recorded the same piece for the Duo-Art in August 1914.  The Duo-Art recording, being one of the dreaded "first 100", leaves much to be desired, as does my emulation of the expression.

Despite such problems, it's still possible to hear a very obvious difference in musical styles.  The 1914 Duo-Art performance clearly belongs in an Edwardian drawing room  whereas the Ampico version, produced a mere fifteen years later, would be at home in a stylish cocktail bar.  Comparison of the two performances provides a good indication of the great changes, both technical and musical, which took place during the player piano "heyday" years.

Richard Stibbons
26 Jul 2005 09:30:32 +0100

1. Scherzo Waltz (McNair Ilgenfritz), played by McNair Ilgenfritz
    Duo-Art 5560 (August? 1914); Shown in Preliminary Catalog, December 1914
    Ref.: Charles Davis Smith: Catalog of Duo-Art Piano Rolls, copyright 1987 by Charles Davis Smith, published by The Player Shop, 635 South Myrtle Avenue, Monrovia, California 91016.
Ilgenfritz_ScherzoWaltz_Duo-Art5560.mid (12 kb)  Transcribed and emulated by Richard Stibbons, 2000.

2. Scherzo Waltz (McNair Ilgenfritz), played by McNair Ilgenfritz
    Ampico 70083F (August 1929)
    Ref.: Elaine Obenchain: The Complete Catalog of Ampico Reproducing Rolls, copyright 1977 by William H. Edgerton, published by William H. Edgerton, Box 88, Darien, Connecticut 06820.   Transcribed and emulated by Richard Stibbons, 1998.

B. 1889 - St. Louis, Missouri
D. April 12, 1953 - New York, New York

A student of Moszkowski, this artist spent the early part of his career composing and playing dance music for Ruth St. Denis.  Later he devoted himself to more serious music and made a special study of Oriental music.  However, he is probably best remembered for the unusual bequest be made to the Metropolitan Opera in his will: $75,000 in exchange for production of his one-act opera, "Le Passant".  Rudolf Bing, in his book "5000 Nights At The Opera", tells that he thought it could be done successfully for television because the bequest had been widely publicized, "but my legal advisers didn't like the idea at all, and we let the $75,000 go." 
[Ref.: Elaine Obenchain, ibid.]

He left the bulk of his estate, $150,000, to New York's Metropolitan Opera provided that within four years the Met stage one of his operas, either Le Passant or Phedre.  Hard pressed for funds, Met officials nearly capitulated but, accused of prostituting the vocal arts, they ultimately rejected the bequest.

26 July 2005

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