In the course of history, music has been one of the major methods that people have employed to communicate, entertain and inform. Music has evolved over the decades thus taking different forms and styles throughout history. This paper seeks to answer the question, ‘which musician had much influence to the society between 1870 and 1950?’ The methodology of answering this question will be based on the influence that the musician had on the society as well as the number of his works that gained positive attributes from the public. The information will be sourced from both books and articles that provide credible information about the musician. It is important to mention that the paper also puts into consideration the fact that there are different genres in music and that the prowess of a musician can be defined best within the context of the genre he/she chose. As aforementioned, music has been in existence for as many years as man since it occupies a very crucial part in any society as far as education, communication and entertainment are concerned.
For one to succeed in a career in music, he/she requires the support of the community. Without such support, one’s efforts in the career may be all in vain. To attract the attention of a given audience, one has to be skillful, knowledgeable and tactful in his/her performance. Within the period in question, certain artists worked hard to win the society’s attention thus remained influential not only within the period in question but also in the contemporary society through their productions. This paper focuses on such musicians namely Heinrich Albert, Harry Lauder and Hank Williams. Heinrich Albert was a German musician born in Warzburg at the beginning of the period in question, 1870 (Miner 3). His interest in music began at a tender age since in his teenage years he had already learnt how to play three important musical instruments. They included the piano, horn and violin.
By the time he attained twenty-four years of age, he had already participated in international events as an orchestral musician in Russia, Sweden and Switzerland. During one of the international music events, he developed an interest in playing the guitar and he did not take much time before he joined guitar classes. Due to his efforts and commitment to his career in music, at the age of 25, he was appointed as the chamber music guitarist in Munich. Five years later, he rose to the rank of the guitarist of the royal theatre in his country. He also won the ‘Court Chamber Virtuoso’ in 1909.
Up to the late 1940s, Albert remained active in his career. Due to his professionalism, the leader of the Munich guitar quartet incorporated him in the team to enhance its credibility (Miner 6). With the help of the other members of the ensemble, Albert further continued to impact masses with his musical prowess. He not only inspired other members of the quartet but he also taught them the skills they needed in playing the guitar (Jeffery 26; Phillip 50). Additionally, he initiated the use of four different guitars during performances, which later came to be termed as the ‘Munich Model’. Under the leadership of Albert, the quartet did their first public concert towards the end of March 1909. The concert was held in Mailander Mandolin club, one of the famous clubs in Munich during that time.
He also participated in a concert that was organized by the artistic society in Nuremberg. During this concert, the quartet presented one of Albert’s own composition entitled Manuett. Additionally, he also did a solo performance of a piece he had composed earlier in the year, Hungarian Fantasie (Phillip 46). Following the concert, the Munich guitarist quartet as well as Albert received positive responses from their audience that were documented in the Journal Die Gittarrefreurd, which was a famous journal of the time.
Through his influence on the Munich guitar quartet, many people in Austria and Germany developed interest in the ‘Munich Model’ an aspect that led to the development of more ensembles. He also trained other artists such as Markus Shwerdhofer and Heinrich Schener who continued to uphold the quartet spirit. The twentieth century renaissance of the guitar owes its existence to the works of Albert. Through his experience in music, he came up with the Fernando sor’s sonata, which involves the transformation of a solo guitar to a quartet guitar. In reference to Albert’s work, Jeffery says that, “…an uncompromising work, developing its ideas to the full and concentrating on musical values rather than on what the guitar can do” (37). Among his works was a detailed guitar playing method and a collection of nearly seventy etudes in six volumes (Jeffery 29).
Research has shown that most of the contemporary quartets apply the concepts developed by Heinrich Albert in his career in music. Harry Launder is one of the greatest musicians and a performer in the Scottish and British realm. The entertainer was born in 1870 in Portobello Edinburgh to a John Launder a designer in China artifacts and Isabella a descendant from the black isle. Harry Launder started his early career by working at the coalmines at the tender age of thirteen years and realized his potential in singing at the time. He started performing his music shortly after getting married to Anna Vallance in 1891 (Gordon 20).
Launders first professional performance took place at a local Lark hall where he used to make about five shillings each night. He later moved to perform at the “go-as-you please”, which was a more prestigious event in the town and made him prominent among the local community. Fame and fortune for Harry Launder came around 1905 when he successfully led a troop of pantomimes known as the Howard and Wyndham.
This catapulted Launder to become one of the greatest performers in England and these lead to various contracts and music deals. Launder was estimated to earn ?1000 a night for his performances in the United States by the year 1911. In the following year, Launder topped the charts in Britain becoming the first British in the history of entertainment (Graeme 25). Some of the greatest hits by Harry Launder include “Roamin in the Gloamin”, “I love a Lassie”, “Keep right unto the end of the road” and “A wee Deoch-an-Doris”. These songs made Launder the highest paid performer of his time with an estimated amount of ?12,700 for each performance (Williams 138; Lauder 14). During his forty-year music career, Launder had made twenty-two visits to the United States and a couple of other trips to Australia with his own train. Other accolades to his title include being knighted after the world war one for raising ?1million for the troops to be rehabilitated and inculcated to the society.
According to the Prime Minister Winston Churchill, Harry Launder had rendered to the Scottish race and entire British Empire an immeasurable service through his music and philanthropy. Harry Launder died in 1950 at the age of 79 years leaving behind a legacy of songs, books and films that he had written or stirred in (William 70). The other musician to make history in the music industry was Hank Williams.
He was born in 1923 with his birth name being Hiram King William (Brackett 32). Hiram would later change his name to Hank, which sounded well according to him in country songs. In 1937, Hank would start his career in a radio station WSFA with the producer offering him a program of 15 minutes as the host with a salary of $15. This was after Hank had won a talent show at the Empire theatre pocketing the grand price of $15. With the rising popularity Hank would go on to form a band with the money he got from the radio show that he called “the drifting cowboys”, and this eventually led him to quit school. Hank would record songs like “Never again” and “Honky Tonkin” which did not do better. It was only after releasing the song “Move it on over”, that fame and fortune started to stream in. In 1948, he signed a recording contract with MGM records.
The following year, Hank went on to release “Love sick blues”, which propelled his music to the mainstream media thus increasing his popularity as a singer. According to Helander (9), Hank was estimated to make $1000 at this point in his career for every performance he went. It is important to mention that, Hank had eleven number one songs in the American chart since 1948-1953 making him the most successful American musician of his time and the most popular America singer only for his record to be broken by the likes of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson in years after (Flippo 16) Other hits by Hank that have gone down in history of music include “You’re cheating heart”, “Hey, Good looking” and “I’m so lonesome I could cry”. Even though by this time Hank had become a star, he nevertheless had issues that cut off his career and life. Excessive consumption of alcohol and morphine and other painkillers saw him being divorced by his wife and being kicked out of the band. Hank died in 1953 at the tender age of 29 years (Graeme 38). Hanks songs and composition have been used by other musicians in different fields such as pop, blues, gospel and even rock that have become instant hits (Wallace 84) In conclusion, the three artists discussed in this essay were influential in their own disciplines.
Although they lived many years ago, their impact is still evident in the contemporary music industry. They laid the foundations of the genres that they were involved in and even trained other artists who have ensured the continuity of their works. Although their achieved fame during the period in question, the fame has not faded in the society since they are still historical icons in music.
Brackett, David. Interpreting Popular Music. New York: University of California Press, 2000. Print.
Flippo, Chet. Your cheating’ heart: a biography of Hank Williams. London: Plexus, 1997. Print. Gordon, Irving. Great Scot! The life story of Sir Harry Lauder, legendary laird of the music hall. London: Plexus, 1968. Print.
Graeme, Smith. The Theatre Royal: Entertaining a Nation. Saddle River: Cengage, 2008. Print.
Helander, Brock. The rockin’ ’50s: the people who made the music. New York: Schirmer Books, 2010. Print. Jeffery, Brian. Fernando Sor: Composer and Guitarist. London: Tecla Editions, 1977.
Print. Lauder, Harry. The Ancestry of Sir Harry Lauder, in the Scottish Genealogist, Edinburgh: Sage, 2006.
Print. Miner, Gregg. Heinich Albert and the World’s Fist Harp Guitar Quartet. Harp Guitar Player of the Month. July 2004.Web. 18 Apr. 2012.
< http://www.harpguitars.net/players/month-player,7-04.htm>. Phillip, Bone.
The Guitar and Mandoline: Biographies of Cerebrated Players and Composers. London: Tecla Editions, 1914. Print. Wallace, Lewes. Harry Lauder in the Limelight.
London: OUP, 1988. Print. Williams, Lycrecia, and Vinicur, Dale. Still in Love with You: Hank and Audrey Williams. London: Thomas Nelson Incorporated, 1991. Print.