Musical Interlude

Pam’s Pictorama Post: It is a snowy sleety March day here at Deitch Studio and I have been rummaging around in the flat files, looking for some hidden gems in the line of sheet music, which I had a vague memory of tucking away. I was not disappointed as this splendid item jumped out at me. I know I purchased it on eBay,  but I have no memory of when or the specifics around it. I showed it in one of my first posts, Meow! Kitty Sing-a-long three years ago. Hotsy-totsy kitty illustrated here, doing his dance to a rollicking piano rag! I especially like his big tongue lolling out and the little lines of electric energy around him. That cat is taking off!

Strangely, if you search Youtube you pretty much find a pile of videos about cats on hot bricks. I didn’t watch any, despite the descriptions as hilarious. There were also several options for learning English, odd. Lastly there was just this one rendition of what we will assume this piece actually is and it does not really come across as my idea of rollicking, but you can make up your own mind if you wish here – Cat on Hot Bricks. Give a shout out if you can find a publication date and/or a better rendition!

Not surprisingly, the expression cat on hot bricks is akin to like a cat on a hot tin roof, meaning skittish, restless or anxious. Our friend Mr. Google also reveals an even earlier rendition of the expression, like a cat on a hot bake-stone (nope, doesn’t roll off the tongue, I agree) which evidently dates back to John Ray’s proverbs of 1678. Poor kitties! Cat on a hot tin roof is an expression I use frequently, but not without an unpleasant image coming to mind.

Ezra Read, the person who is credited with penning this ditty, lived from 1862 until 1922. He was born into “humble circumstances” to a master lock maker who had him and his brothers apprenticed to a blacksmith, which evidently was considered a step up. Ezra and his brothers, James, John Colley and Eber, also worked in the lock shop. However, their father found the money for piano lessons for John who in turn taught Ezra to play. John became an organist of note. Ezra married Beatrice Ida Hampton (known as Ida) who played piano and violin, and together they composed over 4000 pieces under a pile of pen names. Their biggest hit seems to be something called Cinderella Waltz (1910). How popular is questionable as I cannot find a recording of it despite the sheet music having sold millions of copies. (Although, in all fairness, this may be due to the popularity of Cinderella theme music in general.) Ezra and Ida led a somewhat itinerant life until Ida’s death in 1912 at age 45. He eventually settled in Derbyshire where he played for silent films at a local theater. At his death it is said that barrow loads of music were taken from his house. (We collectors all have visions that are a variation on this in our future!)

This fine piece is officially getting dusted off and, along with a few other gems, such as this one below featured in Felix – Here He is Again, will be framed up and brought to my new office at Jazz at Lincoln Center!

Felix sheet music

Felix sheet music, my collection, Pams-Pictorama.com

 

Musical Meow!

Au ChatMeowBlack Cat Dance

Pam’s Pictorama Post: Welcome to my second installment of cat related sheet music.  As some of you know, early on I shared some of my sheet music collection in Meow Kitty Sing-a-Long, but I uncovered some great pieces when searching for the art to our wedding invitation recently. The Black Cat Dance is just a great image and sort of fun. I am afraid that the names of that and Au Chat! are not distinctive enough to find them on the internet – or much information about them.

I am fortunate to own two copies of the Me-ow music, one is on the wall. The second, the one pictured here, may have been a gift – or I found it some place and it was too inexpensive to resist. Always good to have a spare. It is the only one I was able to find a link to on Youtube and I have included it below.

I had hoped I would find a way to play the Felix the Cat fox trot by Sam Fox; sadly to date I cannot.  However, I did find an interesting 1928 snippet from the Music Trade Review on the International Arcade Museum website. This brief article says that Fred Waring introduced the song in Paris and that he cabled Sam Fox that he believed it would be a hit for him. It also refers to the speed with which Europe gets American dance numbers today, scarcely a month after their initial release. Felix was excellent at selling sheet music and therefore some wonderful images have proliferated on especially British sheet music. I have at least one more example I plan to share in a future cat music post.

Hope this put some spring in your step!

Here is the link to the pdf article from the Music Trade Journal should you be curious: mtr.arcade-museum.com/MTR-1928-86-22/MTR-1928-86-22-18.pdf