restricted access 6. Musical Airs, Aired Music
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chapter six Musical Airs, Aired Music M ax Strakosch, manager of the exotic Italian Opera and a regular visitor to Maryland’s shores, dreamed in the late nineteenth century of music arriving in parlors by means of telephone wires. This new medium, he prophesied, would make high-quality music readily available—as easily obtained as switching on a gas stove or turning a water spigot. It would put a merciful end to what he called the “torment  . . . of a million pianos, played upon by the average American girl.”1 Owners of piano factories in Baltimore wouldn’t find Strakosch’s forecast so rosy. Radio made its American debut in 1920, when the first commercial radio station aired in Pittsburgh. Two years later Baltimore had its own stations, beginning with WKC and WFBR. WKC broadcast from the home of Calman Zamoiski Sr. Zamoiski had tried to sell radios in a city with no stations and had concluded that he had to stimulate demand. He converted first the garage and then a bedroom at his home at 2527 West Madison Avenue into a radio studio and pressed his wife into service as the announcer. Holding a converted telephone up to a phonograph, Zamoiski catered to a broad range of musical tastes. The station’s premiere broadcast, in the spring of 1922, showcased the eightmember Century Roof Dance Orchestra atop Lowe’s Century Theater on Lexington Street. The banjo player G. H. McCauley, the flutist Robert Paul Iula, and the members of a group called the Miami Six later made their way into the crowded “studio” to perform (for little or no pay). More radio stations in Baltimore and Washington came on the air in the mid-1920s. Baltimore’s self-proclaimed flagship station, WBAL, owned and operated by the Consolidated Gas Electric Light and Power Company of Baltimore, began broadcasting in 1925. On January 2 of that year Marylanders heard the first of the Victor radio concerts broadcast from New York, featuring the popular tenor John McCormack and the Victor Orchestra with Lucrezia Bori, who in 1912 had made her American debut at the Metropolitan Opera opposite Enrico Caruso.2 Manufacturers let loose on the public a flood of “radio phones” in a bewildering array of styles and sizes, priced for every budget and decor. As Strakosch predicted, new technology—the radio rather than telephone—began replacing the piano in more and f A strong showing of sheet music from London ,Australian, and Canadian publishers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries raises the question of what made the names Baltimore and Maryland so popular with English-language songwriters. Was it the trio of syllables? Did these places conjure up appealing, haunting, or romantic scenes? Natives could wonder. A sampling of the songs would include: “De Belle ob Baltimore”(1898), by Perroquet and Alan Macey (W. H. Broome, Causeway, S.E. London), and “Belle of Baltimore ”(1901), by Charles Rawlings (C. Wood, London). “Mary from Maryland”(1903), by Harry Dacre (Frank Dean & Company, London). Dacre (who changed his name to Henry Decker when he came to the United States) also wrote one of the most famous songs at the turn of the nineteenth century,“Daisey Bell,”or “A Bicycle Built for Two.” “When It’s Honeysuckle Time in Maryland ”(1917), by Dai Jenkins and JayWhidden (B. Feldman & Company, New Oxford, London ). Born in Brooklyn, JayWhidden went to Britain playing ragtime and became a popular bandleader in London and then Australia before returning to the United States. While in London, he wrote “Honeysuckle Time”with Dai Jenkins, a pseudonym for an unknown songwriter. “Jericho to Baltimore March”(1919), music by Chev. C. L. Graves, published in London , Canada. Dedicated to the Independent Order of Odd Fellows of America on its onehundredth anniversary in Baltimore. The Lure of Baltimore and Romance of Maryland (1929) f “I’m Gonna Hit the Trail for Maryland” (1920), by Jack F. O’Hagan and Henry Carson (Allan & Company,Australia). It’s a long hike from Australia to Annapolis even if you can walk on water. “I Left My Heart in Maryland”(1920), by Gene McCarthy and Andrew Allen (Lawrence Wright Music, London). Long before Irving Berlin left his heart at the stage-door canteen and Tony Bennett left his own in San Francisco , McCarthy and Allen left their hearts in dear old Maryland. “Baltimore Vocal Waltz”(1921), by Henry J. Stafford (Cecil Lennox & Company, London). This is a lovely waltz number, easy to learn to play and...


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