2005 WCRF Seminar Lineup

George L. Cobb: The Tuneful Yankee
By Frederick Hodges

Frederick Hodges presents newly unearthed biographical information on one of the ragtime era’s most prolific, yet mysterious composers: George Linus Cobb, best know for his 1918 hit “The Russian Rag.” He traces Cobb’s multiple career paths as a composer and leading contributor and chief music and magazine editor for the Boston publishing house of Walter Jacobs. Cobb’s superior university musical education allowed him to assume a powerful, albeit more heavily concealed, position within the publishing world. The presentation examines how Cobb’s talents for composition and editing were exploited by the music publishing industry in exchange for personal fame.

New Women in Ragtime Discoveries
By Dr. Nora Hulse

World’s expert on ragtime’s women composers (400+ and counting!), Dr. Nora Hulse presents some of her latest findings, demonstrating the different musical styles represented in women’s rags and introducing rags composed by women of other countries and nationalities. She discusses how young women became involved in ragtime during the era, promoting ragtime as sheet music demonstrators at department store music counters and, of course, playing ragtime at home on the parlor piano. She emphasizes their importance as sheet music consumers and collectors of the old sheet music found at estate sales in later years.

Composing Ragtime
By Hal Isbitz

Composer Hal Isbitz discusses his musical background, how he got into ragtime, his major influences, what part his ethnicity has played in his music, and the connection between ragtime and Latin American music. He describes how it feels to be labeled a “Terra Verdean” and plans to cover any other topics the audience cares to bring up. Audience participation is encouraged. As an extra bonus treat, expect to hear Isbitz play his latest rag.

George Hamilton Green and the Golden Age of the Xylophone
By Morris Palter

By the mid-1920’s, novelty ragtime music was all the rage in America. Leading the charge were players and composers such as Zez Confrey and Jelly Roll Morton. Unbeknownst to many lovers of this genre, however, was George Hamilton Green, the legendary novelty xylophonist. Morris Palter discusses Green’s life, as well as his compositional contributions, teachings, and extraordinary recording career.

"Kansas City" Frank Melrose – Free Spirit and Master of Barrelhouse Piano
By Ray Skjelbred

Beginning in the late 1920's, the white pianist Frank Melrose, younger brother of the famous music publishing Melrose Brothers, began his remarkable recording career, playing with such intensity and authenticity that he was sometimes mistaken for Jelly Roll Morton. Working with original recordings, biographical information, and reminiscences that he has gathered from Frank's daughter Ida, Ray Skjelbred discusses the Melrose style, his artistic independence, his singular position in the world of Black musicians and his tragic death at age 33.

Louisville Ragtime - Including the Rags of Al Marzian & Mark Janza
By Richard Zimmerman

Richard Zimmerman delves into an often-overlooked area of ragtime, discussing the importance of pre-ragtime era Louisville and its impact as a center of composition and publication during the first decade of ragtime. He provides an
insightful look at the compositions of musician, teacher, publisher, and
composer Al Marzian plus Louisville's mystery ragtime composer, Mark
Janza. Hopefully, Janza will be less of a mystery after this symposium.

Schedule: To be announced.