Saturday, March 28, 2009

Origins of E T Paull's 'The Ice Palace March'

John Philip Sousa was an American bandmaster and composer, born in Washington DC on November 6, 1854. As a teenager, he apprenticed to the Marine Band, the official band of the President of the United States. At 18 [1872], he won appointment as leader of the band, and served for twelve years. In 1884 he resigned to form his own band. Sousa's Band toured the United States and Europe to enthusiastic crowds. Along the way he composed so many exceptional and stirring marches, he became known as the March King.

John Philip Sousa

Sousa composed 'Semper Fidelis' [1888], 'Washington Post March' [1889], 'King Cotton' [1897], and the electrifying 'Stars and Stripes Forever' [1897.] Among his other works were eleven comic operas---including 'El Capitan' [1896], 'Bride Elect' [1897], 'Queen of Hearts' [1886], and 'The Smuggler' [1882] The popular El Capitan March came from the eponymous opera of 1896. 'Stars and Stripes Forever' was designated as the National March in 1987, 100 years after it's composition.

As another contribution to the musical world, he perfected the 'Sousaphone,' a spiral circular bass tuba. Originally known as the 'helicon', it was probably developed in Russia with improvements in Vienna about 1849. Sousa's design in 1892 made the instrument more portable, thus leading to it's regular use in marching bands. Originally of brass, it's now sometimes made with fiberglass parts to reduce the weight.

His fancified biography movie was produced in 1952 and called 'Stars and Stripes Forever.' He died on March 6, 1932 [age 77] in Reading Pennsylvania. The last march he led was 'Stars and Stripes Forever.'

E T Paull

Lesser known, but almost as popular at the time, was E T Paull. Born on February 16, 1858 in Gerrardstown, Virginia, [He died on November 27, 1924 in New York City.] Paull was a composer, arranger, and music publisher. He was something of a hustler, but his sheet music covers were extraordinary both in design and in the use of vivid colors. These days, his covers are a collectible universe across the nation. Sadly, the music inside these covers was not always equal to the artwork. However, in a society that was into a march fad, his songs and those of Sousa and others were sold regularly. Apparently, though, Paull's marches were easier to play on the living room piano than those of Sousa. His first 'known' published march was an instant hit in 1894. 'Ben Hur or the Chariot Race' seemed to come from nowhere. Until that time, Paull's name was not on the national radar. With the huge popularity of the march, however, his name instantly became known. The Chariot Race or Ben Hur March' sold 60,000 copies in the first year. Remember, this was 1894, and that number of sales was stupendous---probably equivalent to a couple of million copies sold these days. In 1898, Paull wrote and published "The Ice Palace March." It was written to commemorate his Mount Vernon, New York home after an Arctic blast froze his water pipes and turned the home into an ice palace.


There has been no Tinsel Town bio-pic for Paull, probably because so little is known about his life, especially before 1894. But, come to think of it, why should that bother Hollywood? None of the already produced bio-pics has been accurate. History is normally altered for 'dramatic purposes' in each case. Nevertheless, 'The Ice Palace March' has it's story. Below are quotes from several contemporary newspapers. From the New York Evening Journal He Went Away Without Turning Off the Water, and the Cold Wave Did the Rest. Mount Vernon, N. Y., Feb. 3.—By an odd mishap the handsome residence of E. T. Paull, a composer of music, at No. 210 South Fifth avenue, has been transformed into an ice palace. It was visited to-day by all the neighbors and friends, who put on their skates in the cellar, ate icycles from the chandeliers and explored the upper chambers to see if the host were not entertaining some Eskimo. Mr. Paull and his family went South for the winter without turning off the water. The cold wave burst the pipes. It will cost him $5,000. A later item: It goes without saying that Mr. Paull was on the next Mount Vernon bound train. As soon as things could be set to rights at his frappéd residence he summoned his wife home from the South and moved in. The other evening, as his nimble fingers strayed over the keys of the piano in his parlor, he evolved some strains which he considered worth preserving, and which very soon grew into a stirring march, one of if not the best Mr. Paull has ever composed. Then he cast about him for a title. The newspapers had all spoken of his frozen residence as an "ice palace," why not an "Ice Palace March," with a view of his Klondike-like villa on the title page. "The very thing!" he cried, and that is how "The Ice Palace March" came to be written. It is now in press. Mr. Paull never lets any grass grow under his shoe leather, you know.

Original 1898 Issue

1924 Re-Issue

In 1914, the march was re-published with a different cover, this one depicting a large castle built with ice blocks. Such 'Ice Palaces' were popular in many colder states and Canada, and they served as a central features for winter festivals. Our northern areas are now experiencing severe weather, but for the rest of us winter weather is finished---though I must say that here in Connecticut we experienced a massive freezing rain and ice storm back in the 1970s one May night and day.

I remember ice coating everything in sight---including destruction of most of the shade tobacco crop in the center of the state. Now, that could have inspired an icy march. Actually ice building is still in use. Each winter, an Ice Hotel is constructed in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, about 200 km north of the Arctic Circle. The ice comes from the pure water of the Torne River, running through Lapland. And the whole shebang is an artistic masterpiece each year, never being the same twice in a row. This coming winter will be the twentieth. I'm not able to travel there, but a room in the ice hotel runs about $175-$250 a night per person.

Ice Hotel Main Hall - Design by Anders Eriksson & Arne Bergh
Lighting design by Julia Engberg, Ola Carlsson Fredén, Kristoffer
Langerbeck, Janne Haglöf & John Pettersson.

Unfortunately, there's no heat nor any doors, and I don't know of any special music composed for the icy edifice. And oh yes, the Kirona Airport is about twelve miles away in case you're hang gliding and want to stop by. There are plenty of pictures and detailed information about the hotel at

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Gold-Twin Random Smoking Mysteries

It appears the made-for-tv-sale coin dealers are back again with their half truths and misleading statements. Case in point is the NCM offer of a 1929 Indian Head Proof for $24.45 delivered. Though the large print says 'Last $5 Indian ever struck by the U.S. Gov't---that is not what you'd be buying. '...Non-legal tender proof is a classic collectible...' Maybe, depending on what you're collecting and how smart a collector you are. These are certainly not real coins nor even completely gold. The original $5 Indian coin is 90% pure gold, [100% gold would be unworkably soft] while this 'replica' is only gold plated.

The term 'proof' is also bandied about. However, much as that would indicate a struck coin proof, this is not the case. Why? Because this is not a U S coin! Furthermore I don't know what the NCM uses for research, but I question the statement that '...With its historic importance, scarce population and unique design, it's no wonder that one of the original 1929 $5 Gold Indians recently sold for $34,100!...' You can get an uncirculated $5 gold Indian [the real McCoy] from the Home Shopping Network for $710, a more realistic price to quote.

Stimulus Bill purchases for benefit of Joe's Corner Store------->

Again, the NCM states that '...There is a strict limit of five Proofs per order. Orders will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis...' I found the same 'gold piece' being offered on at least seven other websites for similar prices. And I don't remember any of them limiting the purchases to five or any other number. I don't believe the NCM limitation will be followed. If you have the money, NCM has the product! No real limitation. Just for you, we'll make an exception.

According to my calculations with the current retail price of gold leaf, I've considered one-eighth of a gram of gold leaf per coin. I sent an email to NCM [1/19/09] asking about the gold content, but I haven't heard back yet [3/09/09.] In any case, the bulk-buying cost of an 1/8th gram of gold leaf [1 sheet] would be about $6. So, your '1929 Indian Head Proof' from NCM has about $6 in gold. Although I saw the piece for sale on Ebay for $60 [I also saw numerous inexpensive books selling for $1,000,000 each! A matter of listing order on the database, I suppose], most resales should be much lower than $24.45.

And you can't accept any claims that the piece is uncirculated, because it's not a coin, and it would never be circulated in the first place. So, as I noted in my last essay on silver pieces, 'buy the ['1929 $5 Indian Head Proof'] if you want, but don't buy it for use or investment.'
Aren't you sick and tired---as I am---of these tv ads for lawyers? It seems they'll pounce on anything to make a buck. You see, according to the legal profession---like the Liberals---no one is guilty of anything. To the contrary, someone else is always guilty---even if the practice or product in question has been accepted for many years or decades without the dubious advantage of today's Liberal hindsight.

Take cigarettes for an example. Even as a school kid in the fifties, I knew their use would lead to cancer or breathing problems. I didn't need a surgeon general or lawyer to tell me. Everyone I knew who used cigarettes, knew they were dangerous. But their pleasure outweighed the danger, so they continued. And, by the way, I liked Joe Camel and he didn't entice me to buy Camels or any other cigarettes. And I've never seen any positive proof that children were adversely influenced by smokey Joe. I like Popeye, but I don't buy his canned spinach. Nor do I buy Mickey Mouse coloring books.

Now we have court cases awarding millions and billions of dollars to 'aggrieved' parties. If you smoke, you have no business suing the cigarette manufacturers. You knew the danger. Just like we know the danger of driving cars on highways; or hunting; or working in the kitchen; or flying; or entering the military; or riding with a Massachusett's senator on a Saturday night near water.

Life is a continuous flow of danger, and we have to make our ways through it with a minimum of damage to live a long life.

Besides, what the lawyers don't tell you is that they'll take at least a third of your award---if any. So if you win $50,000, you can say good-bye to $15,000 plus the lawyer's expenses. If you win $500,000, you can do the math. And the expenses will suddenly escalate to the lawyer's advantage. Some lawyers will take 40% as a matter of course, so keep your wallets closed.

We have a litigious society simply because the lawyers want it so. And their Liberal cohorts in office continue to provide opportunities for the public to sue everyone else for real or perceived injuries. If you haven't got a case, your lawyer will manufacture one from the flimsiest data he or she can find. All for your benefit? Sometimes I wonder. Meanwhile, resulting prices of our commodities and services will increase to cover the spurious awards---not to mention climbing insurance rates.

Remember, the increasing number of lawyers need more and more litigations to pay their bills and give them lifestyles they think they're entitled to. So, stay in bed and be sure you don't get bed sores.
I keep seeing these tv commercials about feeding the poor children of the World, such as 'CCFund'. It usually bothers me when I see these sad stories narrated by overweight people. It seems to me, they should be doing a little sacrificing themselves. Sally Struthers call your office.
*** has an announcer for the Obama commemorative coins who sounds exactly like Obama. That's no coincidence. It's a clever c'mon to make the coins to have more of a Presidential connection and sound more momentous than they really are.
There's a tv advertisement for a to-be-nameless [I don't want the firm suing me!] law firm, you know, one of the millions advertising for mesothelioma cases? One supposed happy client said it all. "They are more than lawyers, they are human beings." So, I guess lawyers are level 1 and humans are level 2?