This is a blog about music, photography, history, and culture.
These are photographs from my collection that tell a story about lost time and forgotten music.

Mike Brubaker
{ Click on the image to expand the photo }

More Ladies of Brass

26 February 2016

Charming isn't the word for them.
Not graceful either. Definitely not lovely.
Fetching? No, that's not right.
Brazen comes to mind.
Formidable too.
How about imposing? 
Let's settle for just Damen  Blechbläser
Ladies of Brass.

They stand sternly at attention, these ladies of the Janietz Elite Damen Blas Orchester, awaiting a command to play a fanfare. Or two. These forbidding engaging young ladies hold six natural trumpets at the ready, and one stands behind a pair of timpani or Pauke. In these two colorized postcards the instruments are bedecked with green flags fringed with gold. In the first image, the women wear identical light blue dirndls, and in the second that have bluish vests and skirts. The second card was postmarked 19 July 1914 from Dresden. Just one week before the outbreak of World War One.

We have met this German musical ensemble before in my story of  The Janietz Elite Damen Blas Orchester from March 2012. During the first decades of the 20th century, Herr Janietz employed dozens of women and often several men to perform in his traveling Damen Orchester or Ladies Orchestra. The musicians appear on dozens of postcards surrounded by heaps of brass, woodwind, string, and percussion instruments. The group numbered from 10 musicians, mostly women, to as many as 20, with 16 as the average. Fanfare trumpets were a poplar novelty to include with such groups.

Sometimes the Janietz Elite Damen wore plaid. Here the brass group has expanded to eight trumpets and one set of timpani. Each female musician of this German band is dressed in a Scottish style hat, complete with feather and a long plaid skirt, which is not exactly a kilt. At least one Damen has belted on a sporran, a masculine accessory not commonly seen on true Scottish lassies. These girls run to a more petite size than the previous two trumpet groups. 

This postcard was printed in black and white, but Herr Janietz had other cards made in color. This next Janietz group has only five members but they wear the same Scottish costume.

Their hats and vests are in green velvet, while the plaid is, I believe, the Stewart tartan favored, or possibly even designed, by Queen Victoria. Today this seems a strange outfit for a German music hall band, but it should be remembered that the mother of Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II, was Princess Victoria, the eldest child of Queen Victoria. And the British monarch's husband was Albert, who was a German prince of a Saxon duchy. Royalty often made strange bedfellows. Somewhere I expect there is a British counterpart to these postcards with an English ladies band dressed in Lederhosen.

But wait there's more.

The Fanfarenbläser of the Damen Trompeter Corps „Alpenveilchen“ are also ready to make a  grand noise. You've also met these ladies before at the start this series of  Ladies With Brass, that I first published in December 2013. Six young women hold natural trumpets in a traditional posture. They are dressed in identical costumes that are vaguely nautical since each girl wears a German sailor's cap emblazoned with the name of a German battleship. Each cap begins with the initials S.M.S., for His Majesty's Ship, followed by a name, each one different. The reason for this is because the Alpenveilchen Damen Orchester regularly performed in the North German seaports, as this postcard was sent from Bremen on 09 Sept 1909 to Herrn Georg Rodick of nearby Oldenburg.

The cap names are a bit clearer on this next postcard of the Fanfarenbläser of the Damen Trompeter Corps und Gesangs Ensemble „Alpenveilchen“. The addition of Gesangs meant they were also a vocal ensemble. Perhaps they sang German sea chanties in between trumpet fanfares.

European Alpenveilchen
(Cyclamen purpurascens)Source: Wikimedia

The name of this ladies band, and presumably the color of their dress, comes from the European Alpenveilchen (Cyclamen purpurascens) which is the German name for purple cyclamen, an alpine flower. The band's director was J. Reinstadler, who produced dozens of different postcards of his band. This group was slightly smaller than Herr Janietz's Elite Damen, with about 10 to 12 musicians. Almost all were women who played an assortment of brass instruments.

Sometimes they took the caps off, maybe at the request of the photographer, as this image shows six stalwart Alpenveilchen trumpeters in nearly the same dress with broad sashes, the collars being slightly different.  This postcard dates from 09 September 1905, exactly four years earlier than the first J. Reinstadler group. It was sent from Aachen to Herrn Carl Miebach of Barmen near Düsseldorf.

Some ladies bands favored uniforms styled like those of military bandsmen. This next group of six brassy ladies are called the Oestrreich Damen Trompeter Corps „Bôhème“ from Austria. Their director's name was Albert Lohmann. Their caps are similar to the army capos of the Austrian-Hungarian army, but oversize to accommodate the women's hair. Their jackets also have swallowtail shoulder epaulets that were a special service mark of military band uniforms for many European nations. Their trumpets have flags with an embroidered design that looks like an emblem of a city or province, but in fact I think it is just a stylized musical lyre.

At the turn of the 19th century, the cafes, restaurants, beer halls, wine gardens, music halls, and city parks of central Europe offered entertainment by hundreds of these Ladies Orchestras. In German, the word Orchester was used for a musical ensemble that did not necessarily use string instruments. Most groups are shown with about 8 to 16 musicians, mostly women, and usually led by a man. Today we would call them a brass band with assortment of rotary valve brass instruments and percussion. The women wore elaborate costumes, all identical from the same dress maker, showing off the various ethnic and regional fashions that made up the vast empires of Germany and Austria. 

The Damen Blas Orchester „Fortuna“, directed by Otto Noppe, shows another fanfare group with six trumpets and timpani. Their ornate dresses exhibit what is likely a very colorful folk pattern that nonetheless avoids any connection to risque theatrical costumes. This postcard comes with a postmark of 1905 from Düsseldorf.

These fanfare trumpets do not have valves, and are called natural trumpets because they are played exactly like bugles with a limited number of notes within a musical key. The length of the instrument determines the basic pitch and a group might use different size trumpets to add more notes for the ensemble. The instruments descend from the same design used for ancient herald trumpets, but during the Baroque era, brass instrument makers added small tone holes which were covered by the fingers of one hand. This allowed extra notes to fill in the musical scale. It is unclear if these German fanfare trumpets had that feature.

This image of six trumpeters from Max Lasch's Musik Specialitäten Ensemble show the instruments playing. There are four women and two men, and two of the longer trumpets have piston valves. The postmark is dated 24 January 1905 from Berlin.

The Fanfaren Quartett des I. Husaren Damen Trompeter Corps blare out a greeting from the Scheidnitzer Keller beer cellar in Dresden. Their Kapellmeister was August Gäde. They are dressed in German military band outfits. With the trumpets lifted to their lips, we can see that the flags have the royal eagle symbol of the German Reich. This postcard was sent from Dresden on 15 October 1904.

The four women trumpeters of the Fanfarenbläserinnen v. Damentrompeterkorps „Thuringia“ performed in a similar uniform as the Husaren corps. This postcard is unused but its sepia paper is similar to those from the war years of 1914 to 1918. Their impressive jackets include a shoulder board as well as the bandsman swallowtails. The trumpet flags are unfurled to reveal a fancy version of the German imperial eagle. The director was Arthur Schmidt from Clingen in the German Free State of Thuringia, hence the name.

If you've been keeping count, I've shown you 68 trumpeters and 5 timpanists. That is a very loud lot of brassy ladies. And these groups are just a small representative collection of a musical fad that characterized Germanic culture in the years before the end of the Great War in 1918. Ladies bands and orchestras were popular in other countries at this time, but female fanfare trumpeters were a distinctly German/Austrian phenomena. Because of the limitations of the natural trumpets, the music they played was militaristic fanfares and marching tunes. They did not use these instruments for jolly polkas or sentimental folk songs.

Fanfare trumpet ensembles are still found in modern Germany, but not anywhere as numerous. I've been unable to find any German female trumpeters, as the few contemporary groups I've found on YouTube are all male musicians dressed in Renaissance costumes for the tourists.

But I did find a very suitable video of an All-American group –  the U.S. Army Old Guard Fife and Drum Corps Baroque Trumpet Ensemble. They are one of the President's White House ceremonial music ensembles, and here they perform a Cavalry Fanfare by the Bohemian composer, Jan Dismas Zelenka (1679-1745) for four trumpets. They are dressed in 18th century military uniforms with powdered wigs and use Baroque natural trumpets that have tone holes. However the two timpani are not authentic period instruments but are modern pedal machines.

I'm not certain, but I think one of the trumpeters is a woman.
Sadly femininity must be repressed for military uniformity.



This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where no one is ever bored with old photos.

Three Portraits of Cellists

19 February 2016

She's listening. You can see it in her face. Her concentration focuses on her right hand poised precisely at the moment her bow first draws a vibration from the cello. The fingers of her left hand stretch in preparation for an arpeggio across all four strings. She hears the sound before we do, knowing the song her instrument will sing.

The photographer arranged the camera frame with artful skill in this portrait of a cellist. A soft light surrounds the woman whose long white dress blends into an opaque studio background. This artistic cloud-like effect may have had a more practical purpose to allow a newspaper's art director to easily crop the image or convert it into a sketched drawing. I can easily imagine the same charming pose used for a different photo and substituting a small child instead of the cello.

This large format cabinet card was produced by the Baker Art Gallery of Columbus, Ohio. The founder, Lorenzo Marvin Baker (1834-1924), was a New Yorker who moved to Ohio in 1854. After a brief service in the Union army, he opened his photography studio in 1862 and would go on to win several prestigious awards for quality photographs. After Lorenzo's death in 1924 it continued to run under his son and other family descendants until closing in 1955.

As the state capital, Columbus was the center of Ohio's political world and rivaled New York for attracting the attention of national politicians. Fittingly as the best photographer in the city, the Baker Art Gallery produced portraits of Presidents Hayes, McKinley, Taft, and Harding. Columbus is also situated in the center of the state, on the rail lines between Washington and Chicago, and between Pittsburgh and St. Louis. This made it a popular hub for the theatrical circuits with several theaters and concert venues. Though I don't know who this woman is, I recognize a professionalism in her posture and certainly in the photograph style that leads me to believe she was a musical artist, perhaps a member of a traveling musical group, either a chamber ensemble or an orchestra. The small award medallions in the left corner of the photograph include the years 1888, and 1839-1889 but the modern style of the photo reflects a later date, I think, of around 1910.

The Wikipedia entry for the Baker Art Gallery had a rare street view of the studio's first Columbus location at 106 S. High Street, taken about 1905. I suspect the upper floor had skylights for better illumination. Maybe the pedestrians on the sidewalk in front have paused to listen to the heavenly sound of a cello from a window above.

Baker Art Gallery
Columbus, OH circa 1905
Source: Wikipedia


In past centuries the violoncello, or cello as it is commonly called, was sometimes judged unsuitable for a woman to play, as the intimate manner in which it is clasped between the legs was thought immodest for female musicians. In fact the cello's end pin, which was a relatively new accessory added in 1845, improved the playing technique for both men and women, making it a more graceful instrument. But because of its large size, and because it is played while seated, a female cellist was not easy to photograph. This photo gets around both problems by having the young woman stand with her cello leaning against her.

She gazes directly at the camera, bow in a restful position, as if she has just risen to acknowledge the applause of her audience. Her white gown is of a more complicated 1890s style compared to the Columbus cellist. There is a carved upholstered chair to one side, a potted plant stand on the other, and a hazy, vaguely Mediterranean, painted backdrop behind her. I would say she is about 16 or 19 years old, surely not beyond 20.  The arrangement with cello is not unlike period photos of a married couple, where the wife stands to show off her dress and rests an affectionate hand on the shoulder of her seated husband. 

This cabinet card photo was taken by:
The Notman Photographic Co. Limited
3 Park Street and 184 Boylston Street, Boston

Like the Baker Art Gallery, this studio was also the winner of numerous photography prizes festooned on the elaborate backstamp. The owner was William Notman, born in 1826 in Paisley, Scotland, where his life seemed destined for his family's woolen cloth business. When the firm went bankrupt in 1856 he emigrated to Montreal and started a new career as a photographer. In the 1870s Notman took advantage of the public's enthusiasm for photos and the improvements in photographic processes to build his business into a photography empire with studio branches in Ottawa, New York, and Boston. Much of his success came from producing school photographs in the United States, with contracts with Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Amherst, Smith and Dartmouth colleges. Notman died in 1891 in Montreal, but his company continued under the management of his younger brother and partners.

This young musician's name is unknown, but the photographer's location in Boston places her at America's center for the music education of women in the 19th century. From very early in the 1800s, Boston's acceptance of women musicians inspired many to join a 'ladies" orchestra or band,  and I believe this cellist is one of those professional musicians.


This last cellist's portrait is more casual, probably taken by an amateur photographer, perhaps the woman's husband or brother, but still made with some care to set up the pose. The woman on this photo postcard looks off to a distance beyond the camera and her playing position is not as she would be if on a stage about to perform. Her cello is held a bit twisted, turned toward the camera. And though her bow is placed on a string, her left hand is loose, as if she was just tuning the instrument rather than playing a tune. She wears a dress style suitable for 1900-1910 but in a broad plaid fabric that I wish we could see in color. Like the Columbus cellist, she also has a wedding band on her right hand. I'd guess her age as 30ish. 

Her name is not recorded, nor is the location, though it seems safe to say that she sits in the parlor of her home at 2:30 in the afternoon. Regrettably the camera lens failed to capture the title of her music, but with the dense notation it is looks like a piece that required considerable skill to play. I'm unsure if she exhibits the same professionalism seen in the photos of the other two musicians, but I feel certain she enjoyed the same beautiful sound of the cello.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where reflection is an art form.

Clubs for Trombones

12 February 2016

In previous decades, many men enjoyed the camaraderie of membership in a fraternal or professional society. Musicians had their clubs too, and one of the least known organizations was the Benevolent and Loyal Association of Slide Trombonists. Based very loosely on masonic rituals, at the height of its popularity the B.L.A.S.T. established numerous lodges scattered around the world. Members acknowledged each other with secret handshakes and took great pride in knowing how to play the society's mysterious "Lost Chords of the Antiphon".

Being a secret club with a limited membership, photographs of B.L.A.S.T. musicians are rare, especially when pictured in the formal attire reserved for ceremonial events. These four trombone players, dressed in stiff white collars and ties with tailcoats, wear the society's special Satin Sash of the Seventh Position, though for some reason they have discarded the customary white gloves and top hats. The two gentlemen in the center hold tiny treble soprano trombones, while other two have the old fashioned bass trombones in G.

Originally this musical association was called the Benign and Lawful Assembly of Trombones, with the unfortunate acronym of  B.L.A.T., and was open to trombones of every persuasion including rotary and piston valved trombones. As B.L.A.T. lodges became seemingly overrun with valved brass players who knew nothing of the ancient techniques of the slippery slide or the wonders of its infinitely variable pitch, and who really joined only to take advantage of the lodges' free beer, the trombone traditionalists reorganized the society into the Benevolent and Loyal Association of Slide Trombonists.

Here we have an unidentified Ivy League ensemble of B.L.A.S.T. players from 1907 with seven trombonists demonstrating the full consort of different sized Posaunen. Standing left to right are an alto trombone, soprano trombone, two tenor trombones, and a grand bass trombone, while seated on the grass in front are two soprano trombones. Note that all their instruments are fitted with music lyres. The mouthpieces of the two tenors and the bass are fitted into short crooks or pigtails that lower the instrument's fundamental pitch allowing it to better mangle the tuning of the higher trombones. Note also that the slide on the bass trombone is fitted with a handle to extend it beyond the player's arm length, further complicating the ensemble's intonation.

Of course the main motivation for becoming a member of a B.L.A.S.T. chapter was the opportunity to play music with like-minded trombone enthusiasts. Understandably, a trombone choir can get uncomfortably raucous when playing indoors, so most lodges took their music outside. Here we have another B.L.A.S.T. ensemble of 14 trombonists standing in an unknown garden acoustically shielded with ivy covered walls. Bass trombones stand at the left of the line, which progresses to the right with several common tenor trombones, followed by a few altos, and then a clutch of soprano trombones.

The official motto of the Benevolent and Loyal Association of Slide Trombonists was a Latin phrase taken from the ancient guild of the sackbut, the medieval precursor to the trombone.

Clarisonus melius, quam recte
Better loud, than right.

As music fashions in the 20th century moved away from trombonists' time-honored choral anthems and contrapuntal fugues to the new wave of ragtime and foxtrots, younger trombone players found membership in a B.L.A.S.T. lodge to be less than appealing and failed to join in numbers that would sustain the club. Instead they fell in with dance bands and football clubs, and sadly this musical society disbanded many years ago. It's quite possible that few musicologists today even know about its esoteric history, as I had to make most of this up on my own.

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
where "Fore!" is the word of the day.

Music in Motion

06 February 2016

Her identity was easy, as the young lady's name was printed on the corner of her postcard. Miss Ruby Corrick. Wearing an elegant gown she holds a piston valve cornet while on a table behind her is a mellophone. Clearly she is a professional musician, but from where? Not German or French. American? Maybe British? The postcard was never mailed but the printer left a company name: Dodgson & Muhling, Print. Perth.  That's Perth, Western Australia. She has traveled a great distance, practically halfway round the globe, to find a place in my collection here in the mountains of North Carolina.

Names are very useful things on the internet and within a week of acquiring her postcard, I found her on another one, posed with her father, mother, brother, and five sisters as the "Corrick Family" Entertainers. Miss Ruby again has a cornet, and a mellophone lies on a table in front of her. Her brother holds a clarinet, one sister has a flute and a piccolo in her lap, and three sisters have violins, as does her father. The men wear formal white ties and tailcoats, and the women are attired in a splendid array of long evening dresses, some adorned with corsages. This was not the image of a small town orchestra, but of a high class musical troupe.

What made it interesting was that this card was posted in 1909, but not from Western Australia. The printer was based in London, England. That's a very long span between two postcards of the same person. So was Ruby Corrick's family an English or Australian musical group?

Actually neither. They came from New Zealand.


In January 1909, the London theatrical weekly, The Era, ran an advert for the Corrick Family within its announcements page. The section title, Music Hall Artist's Wants, was a place for stage artists and musical groups to post their availability for bookings.

London The Era
January 16, 1909

Wanted Wanted Known
of Entertainers

Nine Brilliant Instrumentalists,
Vocalists, Handbell Ringers,
National Dancers,
Humorists, and

Just returned from a Phenomenally Successful
Tour of the Australian Colonies, New Zealand,
Ceylon, India, and the Far East.

Every member a Star Artist of remarkable

Professor Corrick, Conductor, Pianist, Violinist, Bass.
Madame Corrick, Contralto, Double Bass, Artist.
Miss Corrick, Pianist and Accompanist.
Miss Amy Corrick, Flautist, Vocalist, Dancer.
Miss Ethel Corrick, Violinist, Soubrette, Dancer.
Miss Jessie Corrick, Vocalist and Violinist.
Miss Ruby Corrick, Champion Lady Cornet Soloist and
  Mellophone Soloist, Vocalist, and Dancer.
Mr. Leonard Corrick, Baritone, Clarionet Soloist, Dancer, and
   Bio-exert; and (Viola)

Miss Alice Corrick, the Brilliant Dramatic Soprano.

Nightly changes of Programme, each a perfect
galaxy of Musical and Pictorial Art, including
Orchestral Selections, Choruses, Glees, Duets, Instrumental Solos and Duets, Cornet, Mellophone, Flute, Piccolo, Clarionet, Expert Handbell Ringing, National Dances, Excerpts from Grand and Light Opera, Ballads, Folk Songs, Chorus Songs, and Humorous Sketches, Monologues, and Songs, concluding with a display of Leonard's Beautiful Pictures.

Eight horse-power electric engine and dynamo carried on all country tours, brilliantly illuminating Halls inside and outside where necessary.

Open for engagements singly or collectively.

For particulars apply to
Manager, Mr. Harold G. Coulter
Woodfield Lodge, Mount Ephraim lane
Streatham, S.W.


The Corrick Family Entertainers, circa 1905
Source: Wikipedia

The origin of the Corrick Family Entertainers started with its patriarch, Albert Corrick. Born in Somerset, England in 1848, Albert's family immigrated to New Zealand in 1862. They settled in Christchurch where he pursued an interest in music to become a church organist and music teacher. While leading his church choir he pursued another interest, Sarah Alice Calvert, a young singer, and married her in 1877. Like Albert, Sarah's family also came from England, and together she and Albert opened a music academy in Christchurch that offered music lessons and sold musical instruments and sheet music. In the course of time they produced 8 children –  seven daughters and one son.

Like the families of many music teachers, Albert and Sarah discovered their children were gifted with exceptional musical talent. Their second oldest daughter, Alice, had a particularly fine voice and in 1898 was invited to perform in Hobart, Tasmania. This required a journey by ship of over 1400 miles and about a week from Christchurch. Her success with the Australian audiences encouraged Albert to organize a concert tour of New Zealand for the entire family ensemble in 1899. These performances proved so popular that they continued for another two years. In 1902, the Corrick Family traveled again to Tasmania to begin a long series of concerts that would take them all around Australia over the next few years. The image from their Wikipedia entry shows a group of only eight, as the two youngest daughters were left behind in New Zealand under the care of family relations. 

In 1907, the Marvellous Corricks, as the musical troupe was advertised, embarked on a grand tour to the other Asian parts of the British Empire, performing concerts in Singapore, Malaysia, Ceylon, and India. Albert arranged for the trip to continue back to Britain, via France, so that the children, especially Alice, might benefit from study under music teachers in Paris and London. They arrived in England in January 1909 when evidently their advance agent, to judge by the advert in The Era, was still looking for concert opportunities.

Miss Ruby Corrick
Kalgoorlie Western Argus
April 16, 1907

By April, at Easter week, the Corricks were billed to play at the Victoria Rooms, Cheltenham. Headlining their advertisement was the Brilliant Dramatic Soprano, Miss Alice Corrick, and Miss Ruby Corrick, the wonderful Girl Cornet Soloist

Cheltenham Looker On
April 03, 1909

The reason this is interesting is that the postcard I acquired of the Corrick Family Entertainers was sent that same week, on April 14, 1909, to Miss May Hardwick of Landford Farm in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire by someone who had just attended one of those Corrick concerts.

 21 Tivoli Place
Dear May - We all arrived home
safe + sound, but feeling a little tired
The train was half an hour late at
Ross. We all had a very enjoyable
time + thank you all very much.
Tuesday evening four of us went
to hear the Corrick Family. It
was very good. The next will
be the theather + skating then I
think it will finish for this week
Kind Love to you all
From Eva

The aptly named Cheltenham Looker On published a review in the following week.
The paper's critic used a few more words than Eva to say that the Corricks were very good.

Cheltenham Looker On
April 17, 1909

As a musical family they make up a combination admittedly the cleverest at present before the public. There is something about their performance which is altogether dissimilar from that of the majority of musical families. Each member of the party is so individually entertaining that it is difficult to distribute praise with equal fairness.  

The review continues, remarking on the delightful singing of Miss Alice and the excellent playing of Ruby on cornet and handbells. But it ends with a comment on the most remarkable thing about the Corrick Family's Entertainment. The programme was varied by a selection of Leonard's Pictures, and it is safe to add that for clearness and effect no pictures to surpass these have ever been shown in Cheltenham before.

Leonard's Pictures were moving pictures, short cinema films that Leonard Corrick introduced to supplement his family's variety shows. As a Bio-expert, Leonard's first pictures were short newsreels, trick films, dramas, travelogues and comedies that came from the leading cinema companies of the time - Pathé, Edison, Gaumont and Itala. By 1906 the Corricks traveled with an electric generator to power a film projector, fans, and stage lights. The family bought a cine camera in 1907 to make their own films. Often when they reached a new town, they advertised that they were going to use a camera during the day, to then entice an audience to come see themselves on film later that night at the Corrick's show. 

Some of Leonard's first pictures were just magic lantern slides projected as backdrops for music that the family performed. It seems likely that for these early silent movies the family also provided music. Here is an example of an early Pathés film from 1905 entitled, La Poule aux Oeufs d’Or – The Hen that Laid the Golden Egg. It uses color effects that were handpainted onto each frame of the film. Since the Corricks also featured dancing in their stage act, these films may have included dances as well as musical accompaniment.



La Poule aux Oeufs d’Or (1905) The Corrick Collection

This next short novelty film is entitled The Hand of the Artist by R. W. Paul.
It shows some very imaginative special effects that are impressive even today.



Leonard's camera also recorded some of the first moving images of Australian people. This next short made in 1907 shows a clever view taken from the center of a busy street in Perth with all the hustle of big city life. At about 0:30 there is a curious altercation that is either typical of Australia or a set up by Leonard to add some drama. At about 1:00 a quartet of young ladies cross the street and they may be Leonard's sisters. 



Perth Western Australian
July 14, 1909

The Corricks returned to Australia shortly after the concerts in Cheltenham, and by July 1909 were advertising shows in the Perth newspapers. It would be the start of their longest concert tour of Australia. Their agent, Harold G. Coulter, a government officer in the state Land and Survey Dept. would win the heart of the fourth daughter, Ethel Corrick, and they were wed in 1912. Besides featuring Alice and Ruby, the Marvellous Corricks' program now included Mr. Ernest Leathley, the Marvellous Mimic and Comedian. Like many vaudeville acts, Albert Corrick was  constantly looking for new novelty bits to enliven the audiences. By 1912 the youngest daughter, Elsie Corrick, now age 18, could join the tour, making the Corrick Entertainers a complete musical family band for the first time since their New Zealand performances in 1901.

Leonard's Beautiful Pictures were not to be missed and included A Magnificent Series Just to Hand, and Shown in Perth for the First Time. He probably included some of the earliest moving images of London and Paris that the Corricks had picked up from film studios on their world tour.

In our multimedia century, it is hard to imagine the delight that audiences in the 1900s enjoyed at seeing moving images for the first time. It was the beginning of a new art form that, though primitive by our standards, had a magical quality that in a few decades would overtake live stage performances to become the dominant medium of storytelling. 

Miss Ruby Corrick
Kalgoorlie Western Argus
August 10, 1909

The Corrick children were now adults who wanted to expand their individual lives beyond the family. The constant touring placed a great stress on their father's health and in 1914 Albert Corrick died. The family put on a last farewell tour of New Zealand that lasted until July 1915, and then chose to make Launceston, Tasmania their new home. Alice, Amy, Ethel, and Leonard all continued to be active musicians. Ruby married in 1920 and raised two children in Queensland. 

For decades, the hundreds of the short films used in the Corrick Family shows were stored in a family shed in Launceston. In 2006 the remaining canisters of deteriorating nitrate prints were given to the
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia which recognized the valuable cinematic and social history they represent. A major restoration project aims to bring Leonard's Beautiful Pictures back to a new audience that can appreciate the extraordinary legacy of the Corrick Family Entertainers.

This last video is a trailer for the NFSA project that includes
many more images of the Marvellous Corricks.



It is over 9,534 nautical miles (10,971 miles or 17,656 km) by steamship from Perth to London, via the Suez Canal. The Corrick's luggage included a cornet, a clarinet, a flute and piccolo, violins, violas, a double bass, maybe a cello, numerous handbells, probably a pump organ and maybe even a small piano. Not to mention reams of sheet music, flyers, and postcards too. Their steamer trunks carried countless costume and formal apparel for stage performances as well as their ordinary travel clothes. This was not a simple wardrobe either, with seven women in the troupe. Leonard's projector, lights, camera, film canisters (an extremely flammable hazard)  and especially the eight horse-power electric dynamo added even more volume to the Corrick show.

Somehow Albert Corrick persuaded his wife Sarah that it was worth the family effort to travel so far away from home and make music for 16 years on the road. To say that show business is hard work seems a gross understatement, but it must have been fun too. 

This is my contribution to Sepia Saturday
Lights! Camera!... Action!

As many of my readers know, I'm never satisfied until I've found the whole story, and on the encouragement of Jo Featherston comment of looking up the Corricks on the Australian Newspaper Archive - Trove, I went in search of more. Here is a 1968 remembrance piece of the Corrick Family Entertainers from the Australian Women's Weekly that has such great pictures and stories, it deserves to be a nice epilogue to this post.

Click to enlarge the images.

Australian Women's Weekly
September 11, 1968


  © Blogger template Shush by 2009

Back to TOP