The world of sheet music illustration never stops to amaze the assiduous collector. She/he has to face up to mysteries that defy the imagination, pictorial challenges to her or his ingenuity. The collector stumbles in an enigmatic world where things become unexplainable and surpass fantasy. Here is the continuation of our popular series on accidentally —sometimes wilfully— assembling duplicates.
Rather absurd, I mumbled while surfing the net recently. I was left perplexed by how our blog Images Musicales Stories leaves ludicrous traces on the global network. I want to tell you about it. But first, a pair of absurd music illustrations, as a warm-up.
A few years ago we fabricated a pastiche to illustrate a post on the sheet music covers created by René Magritte. Yes, excessively photoshopped from an original Magritte cover.
The image was a tongue-in-cheek remark on the surrealistic potentials of Magritte’s cover for Prière à mon Ange. You will understand our surprise that this little joke was copied to an Italian website as if it was the work of René Magritte himself!
Next is an even more absurd story. In 2014 we published an article on the life and work of Wolfgang Ortmann. The post was documented with more than a dozen high-resolution scans of our sheet music collection. Alas, at the time we didn’t feel the need to digitally stamp these images. A ‘rascal’ based in New Zealand copied our images, photoshopped the most ‘offensive’ tears and wrinkles, and felt the commercial urge to bundle them in a calendar. A CALENDAR!
We couldn’t resist ordering such a calendar from New Zealand. Only 3 available items left! For $12,99 plus shipping costs it was ours.And now we have our beautiful Ortmann covers —which we patiently collected over many years, documented and cared for, and which travelled electronically to the other side of the world— printed on ordinary A4 paper and bundled in a cheap plastic ring on our desk. Look what they’ve done to my song Ma?
All aboard! Here is your fast ride to the Christmas excitement. Prepare for throngs of frenzied shoppers, glühwein, noisy Santas and their tiresome ho ho’s.
This week it is composer-businessman E. T. Paull who sets the start of our story. Edward Paull (1858-1924) was an American publisher who master-minded a perfect mix of image and music. An attractive and dramatic cover is the best way to market your music, he must have thought. On the other hand, he also wanted his compositions to tell stories, and to that purpose he even added explanatory notes inside the sheet music!
Sheet music from E. T. Paull has long been considered as the crème de la crème amongst US collectors, not in the least because Paull boasted on using the five colour process of his lithographers A. Hoen & Company. But ink transfer from the stone to the paper is a delicate process. It can go wrong.
I am not a connoisseur of E. T. Paull’s work. That’s why I refer to interesting sites on the subject at the end of this post.
Unfortunately, the topic of Christmas has inspired many illustrators and publishers to dull and bland covers. However, some designers went out of their way to avoid stereotypes and succeeded in creating striking cover illustrations. For your entertainment and fine taste, we selected some of these ‘original’ sheet music. Consider it your Christmas gift from Images Musicales.
Happy Christmas and have a good time!
Further reading: a few pages on the net are dedicated to the life and work of E. T. Paull, amongst others at the Parlor Songs Academy and on ‘Perfessor’ Bill‘s website.
To see more covers of E. T. Paull, visit the Lester S. Levy Sheet Music Collection.
Not enough Christmas covers? Look here in our sheet music collection.