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
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Musical Marital Arts

13 August 2016

Single life on the stage can be lonely.
Better to have someone to share it with.
Someone who understands you
and can play along
with the ups and downs
of performing in musical theaters.

 And carry your instrument cases too.

The husband and wife entertainers known as 
Künstler-Duo Alberts –  Alberts Artist-Duo
must have traveled with a large trunk
to store all their musical equipment.
Frau Albert played violin and zither.
Herr Albert played guitar, harmonicas, and triangle
presumably all at the same time,
though not entirely from memory
to judge by the music lyre affixed
to his guitar's headstock.
And on the table behind them
are some other instruments that are unclear,
possibly tuned jingles and glass goblets.
Their German postcard is unmarked
but their style of dress,
especially Frau Albert's hair,
suggests they worked the music halls of the 1920s.


Here is another German husband and wife act
that needed a large padded trunk for their instruments.
The Lyras Chrystall - Musik - Act
performed on tuned hand bells and glass goblets.
Herr Lyras (if that indeed was his real name) holds
a button concertina as he looks toward his wife
who appears to be blowing two simple brass horns.
I believe they made a sound from a reed
not unlike an old-fashioned car or bicycle horn.
She probably kept several arranged
on the table, tuned to play a scale.
Their musical act certainly required
a lot of action when
each water goblet, hand bell, or horn
could only play one pitch.

This postcard was sent from Dresden
on 16 January 1909


This couple were featured in on my blog
back in September 2014 in a post
entitled Two Makes Three.

They called themselves
The celebrated Gouget's Fantaisistes
of 9, Rue des Petites-Ecuries, PARIS.
Their musical specialty also called for
large trunks and cases,
as the two performed duets on
piston cornets, French hunting horns,
and other unusual brass instruments.
On this postcard Madame Gouget
holds a simple hunter's horn
made from real cow's horn,
but capable of only two or three musical pitches.
Monsieur Gouget has a fantastic
long brass instrument
approximately 7 feet
from the mouthpiece
to the end of the bell.
But if its zig-zag twists were straightened out
it probably would measure close to 16 feet,
which is comparable to the length of an
orchestral horn using all the valve plumbing.
As this horn has no valves
Monsieur Gouget could play
only the natural overtones
of an alphorn, which has
a very limited scale of about 16 notes.

This postcard is also unmarked
but I've seen other cards of the Gouget Fantaisistes
that date from 1908-09.


And finally a married couple
who toured the German theater circuit
with costume trunks marked his and hers,
but not with the apparel you would expect.

Agnes and Hans Gossmann
strike an amorous pose on this postcard.
One spouse dressed in white tie and tailcoat,
the other in an elegant dress with a frilly fringed hat.
But I believe that Agnes is on the right
and Hans is on the left.
Cross dressers were a popular genre
of theatrical entertainers in earlier times.
The Gossmann's act probably consisted of
short musical comedy sketches,
with songs and dances,
interspersed with quick costume changes.
All while keeping the audience guessing
which was the man and which the woman.

This postcard dates from the war years,
postmarked 18 May 1917 from Bautzen,
a town on the Spree River in eastern Saxony, Germany,

This is another installment for Sepia Saturday's
month long celebration of love & marriage.


ScotSue said...

An entertaining post of musical duos. I imagine a lot of space in their luggage would be needed for their costumes as well as all their instruments.

Peter said...

I like the text on the back of the Dresden postcard. I find it so typically German to mention that on the left hand side there is "Raum für schriftliche Mitteilungen" or "Space destined for written information". I am trying to figure out what else you could put there :)

Helen Killeen Bauch McHargue said...

These are all hilarious. The cross dressing couple is particularly funny. I met a couple once at a party and I thought they were two women and learned later they were a woman and her cross-dressing husband. Oddly or maybe not so oddly, they were both psychiatrists. I cannot imagine the stuff these performers hauled around with them!!

La Nightingail said...

That switchback horn is really something! Reminds me of the mountain roads around here. I wasn't fooled by the cross-dressing couple. Her face is too feminine to pass for a male. But switching costumes back and forth would be fun for both the audience and the couple themselves watching to see who caught on and how fast. :)

Jofeath said...

They probably didn't intend to be funny, but I agree with Helen here. Hopefully they were genuinely married, unlike Madge and Cyril in our SS prompt photo. I discovered when I googled their names that they were partners on the stage but that their marriage was one of convenience.

Wendy said...

I thought Agnes and Hans were both women. I'm trying to imagine what tunes could come from a bicycle horn and glass goblets. Where is YouTube when you need it?

Liz Needle said...

As usual a fascinating post. You have an amazing collection of post cards.

Little Nell said...

I’m glad you said they were cross-dressing as I thought that was a particularly ladylike ‘Hans’.

Kristin said...

I thought Hans looked like he could be a she. I didn't think the she looked like a he. Maybe they were an early same sex couple.

Joan said...

Always enjoy your tour of long ago muscians, their instruments, uniforms, dresses, and all. Always entertaining, always a new twist to music and muscians.


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