Abstract

Novelty pianist, composer, parodist, and comedian Herschel Henlere (1890–1968), from Galt, Ontario, was part of a wave of Canadian artists that included Maud Allan, Beatrice Lillie, and Guy Lombardo who performed in British music hall and variety in the period 1890 to 1940. Although largely forgotten today, Henlere was a popular performer on the British music hall scene from 1920 to 1940. An eccentric comedian billed as ‘The Well-Known French-Canadian Pianist Entertainer’ and ‘The Mirthful Music Master,’ and shockingly known as ‘Jizz,’ signifying jazz and semen, Henlere was notorious for running long and typically appeared last on the bill so the curtain could close on him. A Salvador Dali look-alike, he drew on Surrealist and Dada aesthetics and on the ragtime, jazz, big band, and dance hall phenomena that were then sweeping Britain. Experimenting with percussive sound, he anticipated the prepared piano of John Cage. Henlere secured an original creative agency for himself and promoted a distinctive Canadian brand of showmanship overseas.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 881-901
Launched on MUSE
2009-09-10
Open Access
No
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