Musical Roots of the Elm City
Performers from New Haven
Gilmore’s Great Quartette
The Schneeloch sisters, Emma (1862-1925) and Emilie (b. 1868) were singers from New Haven. They made up half of the vocal quartet that performed on two nationwide concert tours with Patrick Gilmore’s band. Emilie’s diary, found in the Schneeloch Family Papers, is a fascinating source of information about their experiences.
Gilmore (1829–1892) was the most renowned band director of the era before John Philip Sousa. He was especially famous for certain concerts that featured hundreds of instrumentalists and thousands of choral singers, as well as cannons, anvils, and church bells. As far as we know, he was no relation to Irving S. Gilmore, the namesake of our library.
Composition book containing sketches and drafts
A native of New Haven, Artie Shaw (1910–2004) ranks among the leading clarinetists and band leaders of the swing era. (His arch-rival was Benny Goodman, whose papers are one of the Gilmore Music Library’s most important collections.) Shaw was admired for his instrumental virtuosity, his collaborations with the likes of Billie Holiday and Buddy Rich, and the creatively unconventional instrumentation of some of his bands. He was also famous for his many retirements, his often difficult personality, and his turbulent love life, which included no fewer than eight marriages; Lana Turner and Ava Gardner were wives number three and five.
Shaw’s musical talents were not limited to performing; he was also a talented composer and arranger. The notebook seen here contains plans for numerous pieces. Seven of them—six apparently for piano, and one for clarinet and piano—are reasonably complete, while several others represent only brief musical ideas. Some are crossed out. Shaw did not indicate the titles, except for a two-measure sketch entitled “Sad Sack: intro. flourish.” (He had already recorded “Sad Sack”—apparently inspired by the wartime comic strip of the same name—in 1945.) Each of the complete piano pieces bears the date and place of composition; all were composed between September 5 and 23, 1947, the first in Norwalk, Connecticut, and the remainder in San Francisco.