Category Archives: Sheet Music Covers

Comments on some special, funny or beautiful covers

Far from the Madding Carnival

Valse Carnaval‘ composed by Sandor Laszlo, published by Elkan & Schildknecht (Stockholm, 1920) and illustrated by Tornborg.

A festive couple finds an intimate moment far from what we imagine to be a frenzied carnival parade or costume ball. The Swedish illustrator Tornborg (who’s life we were unable to trace…) succeeded in capturing this subtle moment with a ‘simple‘ drawing.
Here are a few more carnivalesque sheet music covers that are at odds with the obligatory exuberance of carnival parties. If not very similar to our intro-cover, they at least share the same atmosphere of privateness…

Karneval‘ a fox-trot composed by Einar Grönvall and published by Abr. Lundquists Musikförlag (Stockholm, s.d.). Illustration signed with J C monogram and the year 1913.
The Carnival‘ by Osborne Roberts. Published by Anton J. Benjamin in Berlin (1910). Illustration by Hookham.
'Una noche de garufa', a tango by Eduardo Arolas. Published by C. M. Roehr (Berlin, s.d.) and illustrated by Louis Oppenheim.
Una noche de garufa‘, tango by Eduardo Arolas. Published by C. M. Roehr (Berlin, s.d.) and illustrated by Louis Oppenheim.
Die Nacht war schwül…‘ a Shimmy-Lied by Sigmund Romberg. Published by Wiener Bohème Verlag (Wien, 1924). Illustrator is unknown.

The carnival is not yet over. It is still too early to go home. So let us enjoy —far from the noisy and madding crowds— a courting pantomime between Pierrette and Columbine, and an exquisite dance between her and Harlequin…


More on Alice Guy’s fantastical short film here.

Silver Sleigh Bells

'Silver Sleigh Bells' by E. T. Paull.
Silver Sleigh Bells‘ by E. T. Paull, published by E. T. Paull Music Co (New York, 1906). Lithograph A. Hoen & Co.

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!

Explanatory text to the 'Silver Sleigh Bells'.
Explanatory‘ – instructive text on how the music should be interpreted, and what narrative it expresses (p.2 of the ‘Silver Sleigh Bells’ 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.

A lithographic misprint of 'Silver Sleigh Bells'
Two editions of ‘Silver Sleigh Bells’. The one on the right shows the horses and the sleighs as a big dark blob. A lithographic misprint.

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!

Smaal sheet music illustrated by Punch
Noël de Pierrot et de Colombine‘ by Léo Lelièvre. Published by Henri Pascal (Paris, s.d.) and illustrated by Punch.
Illustration of a 1926 sheet music cover attributed to Isaac Grünewald.
Juleljus (Julsång)’ by Gösta Jahn and Zacharias Topelius. Published by Elkan & Schildknecht, Emil Carelius (Stockholm, 1926). Illustration attributed to Isaac Grünewald.
Sheet Music cover 'Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ; Weihnachten' by Fritz Kirchner
Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht ; Weihnachten‘ by Fritz Kirchner. Published by Emil Hunger (Berlin, s.d.). Illustrator unknown.
Sheet music 'Der Weihnachtsengel' illustrated by Linge.
Der Weihnachtsengel‘ by Richard Krentzlin. Published by Birnbach (Berlin, 1920). Illustration by Linge.

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’ Bills 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.

The Birds

Chansons des Oiseaux‘ published by L. Henri May, Paris, 1898. Cover and inside illustrations by Georges Fraipont.

Today’s post is not a usual story. Rather, it is a dreamy walk through enchanted sceneries of the kingdom of birds and a few fluttering bats. The very special songbook Chansons des Oiseaux was published in 1898 by the Société française d’éditions d’art L.-Henri May.
This monsieur Louis-Henry May may have given his venture a rather pompous title, but it well reflects the care and attention that was given to the book: the unusual oblong format, the peaceful cover image without room for names nor other text than the title, the decorative pastedown to finish the inside of the hardboard cover, and last but not least the delicate full-page illustrations by Georges Fraipont (1873-1912).

The cock on the front cover of 'Chansons des Oiseaux'
Detailed scan of the front cover (click for high resolution).

We have already written about ‘Recto Verso de Luxe‘ where sheet music is illustrated on both the front and back cover to form one large image when you fold open the sheet. This is one of these special covers.

illustration by Georges Fraipont for 'Chansons des Oiseaux'
Front and back cover of ‘Chansons des Oiseaux’, 1898 (illustration by Georges Fraipont)

The book collects 10 songs composed by Georges Fragerolles (1855-1920), who is famous for being the maestro of the Chat noir, having enlivened at the piano many shows of the Théatre d’ombres. The lyrics of four songs were written by Fragerolles himself.

The decorated pastedown on the cover interior of the book, designed by Jean Closset.

In our collection the name Fraipont is familiar. Gustave Fraipont (1849-1923) created a few sheet music covers. It was however his son Georges who illustrated this book. It is rather hard to discern the work of Gustave from that of Georges, as they both use ‘G. Fraipont’ as signature, and their style is comparable. Besides, Georges was also a composer. On at least one sheet music cover both father (illustrator) and son (composer) appear together. Yes, also with birds.

Tendresse sheet music by Georges Fraipont
Tendresse‘ by Georges Fraipont and Pierre Barbier. Published by Costallat & Cie (Paris, s.d.) and illustrated by Gustave Fraipont.

But let us continue with the book. Here is the title page.

The title page for the ‘Chansons des Oiseaux’.

And here follows your oxygen, your antidote to nastiness, negativity and gloom: ten lithographs, so delightfully charming that it is hard to imagine that they are but the result of a combination of ink, brush and paper.
Savour and rejoice!

'Mon Coq - Chanson rustique' illustrated by Georges Fraipont
‘Mon Coq – Chanson rustique’
'Les Mésanges Divines' by G. Fraipont
‘Les Mésanges Divines – Légende Mystique’
'Les Mouettes - Chanson de Mer' illustration by G. Fraipont
‘Les Mouettes – Chanson de Mer’
'La Chauve-souris' by Georges Fraipont
‘La Chauve-souris – Chanson d’Enfant’
'Voici l'Hirondelle - Aubade' by G. Fraipont
‘Voici l’Hirondelle – Aubade’
'Le Cygne - Stances' by Georges Fraipont
‘Le Cygne – Stances’
l'Oiseau Favori by G. Fraipont
‘L’Oiseau Favori – Romance dans le genre ancien’
'Le Perroquet - Rondo' by G. Fraipont
‘Le Perroquet – Rondo’
‘La Colombe – Romance’
'Le Rossignol - Sonnet' by Georges Fraipont
‘Le Rossignol – Sonnet’

 


The book was printed by R. Engelmann, Imprimeur-lithographe
(
16 rue Nansouty, Paris)