Get Adobe Flash player

Notable Silent Era Composers



M. L. Lake 

Mayhew Lester Lake (born at Southville in Worcester County, October 25, 1879 – died at Palisades Park, March 16, 1955) was an American composer, music teacher, conductor, arranger and violinist. He was also very well known under his pseudonym: Lester Brockton. As did many composers of his time, he used different pseudonyms: Alfred Byers, Paul DuLac, Charles Edwards, Robert Hall and William Lester.

Lake studied piano, violin, harmony and counterpoint at the New England Conservatory in Boston with among others Julius Steinbrück (violin). Later he was a violinist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra. He also traveled as a conductor of various theater orchestras throughout the United States. From 1896 to 1910 he was chief conductor of the Orchestra of the Teatro Payret in Havana, Cuba.

Lake was also a prolific composer and wrote a large number of works for orchestra, but especially for wind bands. He had a preference for Ragtime and wrote two works, The Rag Baby (1916) and Toreador Humoresque: A Ragtime Travesty on “Carmen” (1918). In 1924 he became a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).

From 1910 Lake began writing arrangements and compositions for wind bands and theaters. He was associated with many luminaries of his day amongst performers and composers such as Sophie Tucker, Al Jolson, Mae West, Victor Herbert, George. M. Cohan, Percy Aldridge Grainger, Edwin Franko Goldman, John Philip Sousa, Henry Hadley and Paul Whiteman.

From 1913 to 1948 he was the editor-in-chief for publisher Carl Fischer in New York for band and orchestral music. There he published his 1920 book “The American Band Arranger”.

Otto Langey

Otto Langey was born in Germany, October 20, 1851.

He studied harmony, counterpoint, and composition, with Wilhelm Fritze.

After several years of activity in England as a musical director and conductor, he came to the Untied States in 1889, and was appointed solo ‘cellist with Bochert’s Boston Symphony Club.

Subsequently he settled in New York City. As a teacher of violoncello, and as an orchestral arranger he has attained wide distinction.

S.M. Berg

Christopher O’Hare

George L. Cobb

R.E. Hildreth

Richard E. Hildreth (1867-1943)

Fred Luscomb

 Joseph Carl Breil

Joseph Carl Breil (June 29th, 1870 – January 23rd, 1926) had a career in the performing arts which spanned from operatic tenor, stage director to conductor and composer. Breil was among the first Americans to compose for the new medium of cinema and is most significantly remembered for composing, arranging and compiling scores for two of D. W. Griffith’s epics: “Birth of a Nation” (1915) and “Intolerance” (1916).  His love theme “The Perfect Song” from the score of “Birth of a Nation” would take on a popularity of it’s own and later become the theme for the radio show “Amos and Andy”.

Breil was born in Pittsburg in 1870, of German descent. His family sent him to Leipzig, Germany to study law, however he chose instead to study composition and voice at the Leipzig Conservatory.

Victor Herbert

J. Bodewalt Lampe

Gaston Borch

Maurice Baron

Maurice Baron (January 1st, 1889 – September 5th, 1964) (Pseudonyms: Francis Delille, Morris Aborn, Alice Tremblay, Henri Baron), was a composer, arranger and conductor who served for many years as staff conductor and composer for the Radio City Music Hall.

Baron had 350 composi­tions published during his long career on Broadway. In this period, he contributed musical scores for many motion pictures and won a film industry prize in 1924 for a thematic compo­sition on “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” His many photoplay compositions include such titles as: Kiss a Miss, Agitato Misterioso, Joyful Hurry No.1, Mirth and Merriment, Lover’s Quarrel, Air Mail, Valse Pathetique, Dashing Cowboy, Seduction, Souvenir D’antan and Comic Conversation.

Other motion pictures for which he wrote musical scores included “Four Sons,” “The Big Parade,” “Sunrise,” “The River,” and “The Better ‘Ole.” He also wrote a number of tone poems, including “Indian Wedding Festival,” based on Longfellow’s “Hiawatha.”

Baron was born in Lille, France. His family later moved to Canada, and Mr. Barron left his father’s small homestead at 17 to join a circus as a clarinet player. After a period as as­sistant conductor of the Boston Opera Company, violin player in the Seattle Symphony Or­chestra, viola player in the San Francisco Symphony, Mr. Baron took over as conductor of the Roxy Symphony Orchestra.

In 1919, he joined the Music Hall and remained with that or­ganization until 1932 when he retired. In 1937 he became edi­tor of his own music publish­ing company.

One of his greatest successes on the great stage of the Music Hall was his fairy tale operet­ta, “The Enchanted Forest.” It was based on the legend of Hansel and Gretel.

Irénée Bergé

Irénée Bergé born February 1, 1867 in Toulouse, France, was a conductor, teacher and composer. While at the Conservatoire de Paris he studied under Jules Massenet.  Bergé came to New York in 1902 and taught at the National Conservatory of Music of America. He wrote many chamber pieces, mostly for solo piano and piano and voice, and also two operas, “Corsica” and “Nicolette”. Most notable however, was his vast output of photoplay compositions – especially for orchestra.

Walter C. Simon

J. S. Zamecnik

John Stepan Zamecnik (1872 – 1953) was an American composer and conductor. He is best known for the photoplay music he composed for use by silent film theater orchestras. Zamecnik used many pseudonyms, including Dorothy Lee, Lionel Baxter, R.L. (Robert) Creighton, Arturo de Castro, “Josh and Ted”, J. (Jane) Hathaway, Kathryn Hawthorne, Roberta Hudson, Ioane Kawelo, J. Edgar Lowell, Jules Reynard, F. (Frederick) Van Norman, Hal Vinton and Grant Wellesley.

Leo A. Kempinski

Jessie L. Deppen

Herman Finck

Sol P. Levy

Sol Paul Levy was born in Chicago, Illinois on July 22, 1881, attended All Hallows College, and studied music with his father and Anton Petersen.  He was first clarinetist in both the John Philip Sousa and Arthur Pryor bands, and was in charge of Victor Records’ foreign orchestrating department.  A few of the silent movies Levy worked on were The Barrier, The Right To Happiness, Say It With Songs, Sealed Orders, Song Of The North, and World In Flames. In 1914 he composed and compiled publisher H.S. Gordon’s Motion Picture Collection, a compilation of photoplay cues  for piano. Levy also contributed greatly as composer and arranger on numerous orchestral pieces for motion pictures.

His songs included “Because You Say Goodbye,” “Hunka-Tin,” and “Roses That Die Bloom Again.”  He was one of the founders of Belwin Music, which published his piece “A Cannibal Carnival” in 1920.  The composer died in New York, NY on February 14 of that same year, right after achieving fame for his song “That Naughty Waltz.”

Leo Sowerby

Albert W. Ketelby

Ernö Rapée

David Mendoza

L.G. Del Castillo

William Axt