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ARNDT Felix

ARNDT Felix

Oeuvres en tant que compositeur: 1

Oeuvres en tant qu'arrangeur: 0

Description

The story of Felix Arndt (May 20, 1889 – October 16, 1918) is ultimately a tragic one. He was an American pianist and composer of popular music, whose mother was the Countess Fevrier, related to Napoleon III, while his father, Hugo Arndt, was Swiss-born. He decided to take up the piano on his own, but later sought out advanced training in harmony and theory, one of his main influences being pianist Carl Lachmund, who was a follower of Franz Liszt. Once out of school, Arndt's talent for arranging was quickly recognized by publishers, and he got a job composing special material on demand for several years, including for vaudeville stars such as the husband and wife team of Nora Bayes and Jack Norworth, After a number of musical jobs he had a lucky break when he was asked to join banjoist Fred Van Eps and his brother Bill Van Eps on a second banjo, to form the Van Eps Trio, who had already been recording for Victor Records, especially because Fred Van Eps had been so impressed with his skill and style. Victor Records also accepted Felix as a soloist, and this started a large amount of recording activity over the next few years. Felix would cut at least 30 keyboard solo sides in addition to his recordings of the trio, and five with mandolin player Dr. Clarence Penny. He also debuted many of his own compositions simultaneously on record and piano roll at this time. In 1913, he acquired a position at the Universal Music Company. Being a fine arranger and pianist, the position with Universal allowed him the opportunity to advance his skills when applied to other composer's works, and helped him in his compositions as well. The following year, Arndt also became a staff musician for Aeolian Hall, creating Duo-Art reproducing rolls in the Popular Music genre, and in almost five years there, apparently created no less than 3000 piano rolls. It was during this period that he wrote the first of a series of compositions that are now considered to be classic novelties and can be found in this volume, A Symphonic Nightmare: Desecration Rag (#1), which is an amusing send up of well-known symphonic pieces in a completely different style to what you might be expecting. This was followed by the unusual From Soup to Nuts, and then a piece that showed just how original his musical style was becoming, Marionette. Shortly after, he met the lady who was to become his wife, Nora B. Locke. Felix wrote his signature piece in honor of the occasion, Nola - A Silhouette for the Piano and a piece that was a much admired template for what would become the genre of novelty piano in the 1920s. Written and copyrighted in late 1915 it was first published and recorded early in 1916. Several months after the piece was composed they were happily wed. During the years 1916 to 1918 Felix really started to find his niche as a composer as well as a performer and arranger on piano roll, and there was a second Desecration, An Operatic Nightmare: Desecration Rag #2 and a dance piece titled Clover Club. Also at this time he met George Gershwin, who much admired Felix and who treated him as a mentor. Unfortunately fate intervened, for the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic then struck the world, and Felix Arndt contracted cold on October 8, which developed into pneumonia, causing his death on October 16. This deadly sickness deprived the world of Felix Arndt shortly before WWI had ended at the very young age of 29 . Arndt was interred at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, New York.

Nowadays his piano piece Nola is still very well known, if not, usually, as a piece written by him, but rather a tune that many people recognize. Years ago I remember a novelty song sung to its tune, by the comic Des O’Connor. Recently, upon reminding myself as to what a great melody it was, I went looking on the internet, and found the name of its composer. After acquiring the piano score, and realizing what a wonderful work it would be for two guitars, I went on the hunt for anything else by him. The result is this book. I found 11 pieces in manuscript, and no more, so I arranged all of them for two guitars. The music itself is in a totally original style that I have never come across before on the classical guitar and therefore I sincerely hope you enjoy the results!

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