Jan 1, 2012

Paul de Ville, Continued

Happy New Year!

The web has yielded up some more arcane Paul de Ville data! Google Books has not yet gotten around to scanning in any of his publications from c.1900, but has posted copies of two old Carl Fischer publications with references to de Ville’s products. (Sax players, of course, know de Ville as the author of the still-popular "Universal Method for Saxophone" - see my Dec.19 post.)

The first is “The Band Teacher’s Assistant, or Complete and Progressive Band Instructor,” copyright 1888, by Arthur A. Clappé (a well-respected bandmaster and author, in his time). Google copied it from the Stanford Music Library. It’s full of information that every band director needs. For example, did you know that “clarionets” should be oiled lightly with salad oil once a month, and the joints greased periodically with a little deer tallow? (What was “salad oil,” exactly, in 1888?)

My old clarinet teacher, Paul Pone, who started playing in Italy in the 1910s or 1920s, once told me that his mom used to make cork grease by straining lamb chop fat through a piece of cloth. He added that if you ever run out of cork grease, “you’ve always got a little right here,” rubbing a finger on the side of his nose.

Anyway, the Clappé book includes an appendix listing “Best Methods and Studies for Wind Instruments.” There we find the “Eclipse Self-Instructors” by Paul de Ville - for flute, piccolo, clarinet, cornet, Eb alto (horn, that is, not saxophone), Bb tenor (horn), baritone, tuba, and drums. These are priced at 60 cents each. There is also “Carl Fischer’s New and Revised Tutor” for Eb cornet, by de Ville, listed at $1.25.

The Clappé appendix also lists “Universal Methods” by de Ville, for flute, saxophone, trombone, baritone/euphonium, and xylophone. These are priced at between $2.00 and $4.00; I assume that the price varied with the size of the book.

The second book is “The Practical Band Arranger: A Systematic Guide for Thorough Self-Instruction,” by L. P. Laurendeau, copyright 1911. It seems to have come from the New York Public Library. This would have been a pretty decent introduction to theory and arranging, for someone wanting to arrange music for their town band in 1911.

As far as Paul de Ville goes, the interesting part of this book is the section at the end that advertises Carl Fischer products. Here we find listings for “Universal Methods” for flute, saxophone, trombone, harp, baritone/euphonium, drums, and xylophone. All are by de Ville except the harp method. There is also a list of “Eclipse Self-Instructors” for violin, cello, string bass, piccolo, flute, clarinet, cornet, alto horn, tenor horn in treble or bass clef, slide trombone (treble or bass), valve trombone (treble or bass), baritone horn (treble or bass), tuba, Bb Bass (treble or bass), Melo horn, drums, fife, mandolin, guitar, and banjo. No specific author is listed for these, so we can’t be sure how many were written by de Ville.

The Eclipse books were priced at 50 cents each in 1911, down from 60 cents in the 1888 book. Was there deflation between 1888 and 1911? According to Wikipedia, perhaps: "Between 1875 and 1896...prices fell in the United States by 1.7% a year." But then again, the appendix of "Best Methods" in Clappé's 1888 book also lists the 1908 "Universal Method for Saxophone" - so the appendix must have been revised (or added) in a later printing, maybe some years after 1911.

As you can see, I’m into saxophone trivia. If anyone has any biographical info on Paul de Ville, please send a comment (below).