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PAGE 5

The Authoritative Work On American Music
by [?]

“As recently as 1899 Mr. Palmer wrote a song in the popular ‘ragtime,’ My Sweetheart is a Midnight Coon and almost in the same breath also wrote the heavy sacred solo, Christ in Gethsemane. The first is of the usual light order characteristic of this class of music. The latter is as far removed to the contrary as is comedy from tragedy. The ‘coon’ song entered the bubbling effervescing cauldron of what is termed ‘ragtime’ music among the multitudinous others, and soon was seen peeping through at the surface among the lightest and most catchy…. The sacred solo found its level among the heavier in its class, and if the term may be here applied, it was also a hit.”

S. Duncan Baker, born August 25, 1855, still lives (1902) in the old family residence at Natchez, Miss. “In this house is located the den where he has spent many hours with his collection of banjos and pictures and in writing for and playing on the instrument which he adopted as a favourite during its dark days (about 1871).” We are told that he composed an “artistic banjo solo,” entitled, Memories of Farland. “Had this production or its companion piece, Thoughts of the Cadenza, been written by an old master for some other instrument and later have been adapted by a modern composer to the banjo, either or both of them would have been pronounced classic, barring some slight defects in form.”

I cannot stop to quote from the delightful accounts offered us of the lives and works of Albert Matson, George D. Tufts, D. O. Loy, Lavinia Pascoe Oblad, and forty or fifty other American singers, but it seems to me that I have done enough, Mencken, to prove to you that the great book on American music has been written. Without one single mention of the names of Horatio Parker, George W. Chadwick, Frederick Converse, or Henry Hadley, by a transference of the emphasis to the place where it belongs, the author of this undying book has answered your prayer.

December 11, 1917.