Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hudson's Little Known Composer

Last week, Paul Kisselbrack shared two images of sheet music with Gossips: Woodland Memories, an intermezzo for piano, and The Discoverer, a march two step presumably for piano, although it is noted that it is also published for orchestra. Both were composed and published, in Hudson, N. Y., by Gustave (or Gustav) Anton Rapp, in 1909, the year of the Hudson-Fulton Celebration.

The obvious question is: Who was Gustave (or Gustav) Anton Rapp? Here's what little Gossips has uncovered about him so far. 

In the 1912 Hudson city directory, Gustav (sic) A. Rapp is listed as a "banjo, mandolin, and guitar teacher" residing at 414 State Street. In the 1920 U.S. Census, Gustav (sic) Rapp, then 47, is listed as the head of a household that includes himself and his mother, Dora, and his occupation is given as "bookbinder." His address is still 414 State Street. In the 1940 U.S. Census, Gustave (sic) Rapp, then 68, is still listed as residing at 414 State Street and his occupation is still "bookbinder," but now he is the head of a household that includes a wife, Marion, age 47, and a son, Richard, age 9.

414 State Street today
Woodland Memories and The Discoverer seem to have been the only works Rapp ever published, or the only ones that have survived. The title The Discoverer is, of course, reference to Henry Hudson, and the march was no doubt composed for the tricentennial celebration of Hudson's discovery of the river that bears his name. There is reason to believe that The Discoverer may have been performed during the tercentenary festivities in Hudson.

The cover art for The Discoverer is a bit of a curiosity. The image of Henry Hudson is flanked by a hybrid flag of the Netherlands and the American flag.

The Dutch flag is not the flag of the Dutch East India Company, which one might expect it to be since this was the flag that would have flown on the Half Moon, but it does appear to be the same as the one shown in this engraving, flying from the replica Clermont in 1909. 

Was there a special Dutch flag created to commemorate the Tricentennial?

The American flag is also a puzzlement. It has 38 stars. The 38-star flag was used from 1877 to 1890. In 1909, when The Discoverer was published, the American flag had 46 stars.

1 comment:

  1. 414 State Street today looks like a dump but with a knowing eye its historic beauty of elegant simplicity could be easily revealed / restored.