The Piano.The information on the card next to the piano reads as follows.
"Piano Played by Bix Beiderbecke.
This piano was owned by Pat Ciricillo when he lived in room 606 at the 44th Street Hotel in New York City from 1929 to 1931. Bix Beiderbecke was in room 605 and rented this piano in July 1931. It was on this piano that he wrote "Candlelights" and "Flashes".
Bix joined in jam sessions Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Red Nichols, Adrian Rollini, Bud Freeman, Mildred Bailey, Eddie Condon, Hoagy Carmichael, Pee Wee Russell and others, often as late as 3 a.m. They stuffed paper around the hammers to keep the noise down.
Bix died on August 6, 1931.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Frank V. Smith"
At the end of April 1930, Bix took
residence in room 605 of the 44th Street Hotel. His neighbor in room 606
was trumpet player and Columbia University music student Pasquale "Pat"
Ciricillo. Pat had purchased a Wurlitzer upright piano some months earlier.
He secured a job in a summer resort for three months, beginning in June
1930 and allowed Bix to borrow the piano for that period. Pat returned
to Manhattan in the Fall of 1930, in time for his classes in Columbia University,
and the piano went back to room 606, but Bix would drop in Pat's room to
use the piano during September of 1930 and again beginning in February
1931, when he retuned from Davenport. According to Pat Ciricillo, Bix composed
"Flashes" and "In the Dark" on Pat's piano. Pat was going to spend the
month of July 1931 in Italy and rented his piano to Bix. However, it does
not appear that Bix used Pat's piano during that month. Bix had moved to
Queens late in June and spent a few days with Rex Gavitte (Smith Ballew's
bassist) before taking up residence in a new apartment at 43-30 46th Street.
Bix wrote to Esten Spurrier saying that he had bought a piano for his new
residence (according to Joe Giordano the piano was bought for Bix by his
new girl friend, Helen Weiss; this makes sense because Bix was broke).
When Pat Ciricillo returned from Italy early in August, he found his piano
in storage in the basement of the 44th Street Hotel.
Early in the 1970's Pat Ciricillo offered to sell his piano to Joe Giordano for $50. Joe was interested, but had no room for the piano in his appartment in New York City. In 1978 Pat and his wife Pat decided to move to Florida. They sold their house in Scarsdale (the closing on the house and Pat's funeral took place on the same day, Pat having died at that time from a massive heart attack) and had a garage sale. Frank and Connie Smith purchased the piano on May 13, 1978. They paid $40 for the piano and $75 for a lawn mower!In the 1980's, Frank and Connie Smith tried to donate the piano to the Smithsonian, but the authorities in charge refused to accept the gift. In 1987, they donated the piano to the Louisiana State Museum where it is in display presently.
I am grateful to Joe Giordano for generoulsy providing me with information about Pat Ciricillo's piano.
The Cuff Links.These were donated to the museum by Hoagy Carmichael. They are on the bottom of the glass case which houses the cornet. The following letter from Hoagy is affixed to the back of the glass case.
November 9, 1963
Mr. H. Clay Watson
New Orleans Jazz Museum
1017 Dumaine Street
New Orleans, Louisiana
Dear Mr. Watson:
I have been considering your request of August 6 and I have decided to send you a couple of articles that belonged to Bix beiderbecke. Enclosed you will find the handkerchief and pair of cufflinks (sic) that he was wearing just before his last illness. The occasion may well have been the engagement at Princeton University that he attempted to make when he contracted pneumonia. This was verified to me by Miss Weiss, who lived in the same apartment building in Sunnyside, Long Island, at the time of his illness. They had been dating for some weeks. In fact they visited me in my apartment just a week before his illness. She sent these articles to me a few days after his death.
Knowing Bix, he may have had another handkerchief or two but it is quite possible that this is the only pair of cufflinks (sic) he had at the time. However, I cannot vouch for this.
I hope these little articles will be of some help in the establishment of the New Orleans Jazz Museum but I want to make clear that they are strictly museum articles and may not be sold or exchanged by any individual or corporation for personal or corporate benefits. I am sure you agree this is the proper procedure and I am, therefore, enclosing a copy of this letter for you to sign where indicated and return it to me.
I am sure you are doing a fine job in your capacity and I hope the Museum flourishes as it should.
Accepted: ______________ Date: __________
P. S. You may launder the handkerchief, if you wish, but perhaps it is better to display it in its present state of age.
The handkerchief is not on display.According
to Steve Teeter, the curator of the Jazz Collection (e-mail of 11/3/99);
"the Bix handkerchief is in my office and I will be adding it to the case.
For display purposes, each of the two Bix cuff links has been inserted
into a white shirt cuff that was cut off of someanonymous shirt. The cuffs
are just to give a realistic presentation and have no connection with Bix.
By the way, did you notice the cuff links don't match?"
I am grateful to Enrico Borsetti for sending me scans of the photos of the cufflinks.
The Photographs on the Wall Behind the Piano. Of
the six photographs on the wall, four refer to Bix.
1. Sheet Music of "In A Mist". Gift of Lester Arquette.
2. Photograph of Bix from 1926 when he was a member of the Jean Goldkette Orchestra. The caption on the left of the photo reads: "Beiderbecke was born in Davenport, Iowa in 1903. He began to play piano at age 3 and took up the cornet in 1917. He played primarily around Chicago and the Midwest and ended his career in New York. Although only 28 years old when he died, Beiderbecke is still held in high regard by jazz enthusiasts around the world." Gift of Lester Arquette. On the right-hand side of he photograph Bix inscribed a dedication: "To Les personnally (only one 'n' is written above the word) and musically I think you're the nuts and that's no east of Buffalo stuff. Sincerely Bix Hi Les"
3. Photograph of the Wolverine Orchestra. The caption on the left reads: "Bix Beiderbecke and the Wolverines ca 1926 (correction: this is a photograph of the Wolverines in the Cinderella Ballroom in 1924). This was Beiderbecke's most famous group. Bix is seated at right. This band toured through the Midwest and made a number of notable recordings." Gift of Bob Gillette.
4. Photograph of the Paul Whiteman Orchestra 1928. The caption on the right of the photo reads: "Whiteman was called the "King of Jazz" but did not really play it. He did employ important jazz men in his orchestra and helped them through the rough depression years."
The Cornet. The information on the card below the glass case reads as follows. "Cornet played by Leon Bix Beiderbecke "The Triumph". No manufacturing information. Beiderbecke was from Davenport, Iowa. He played all over the Midewest and New York. He wrote music and recorded extensively. He has become a legend since his death at age 28 in 1931. Gift of Ben Pollack and Stephen Loyacano."
Two articles describe the transfer of Bix's cornet to the New Orleans Jazz Museum. The articles were published in the Herald Examiner (Los Angeles, CA) on July 19, 1963 and in Downbeat on September 26, 1963. The following account is a summary of the information given in these articles. In 1955, Steve Loyacano, vice president of the New Orleans Jazz Club went to Hollywood, CA to visit his son, Steve Lord, a television scriptwriter. At that time, Steve Loyacano saw a cornet hanging on one of the walls of the Pick-a Rib restaurant owned by Ben Pollack, but did not realize that it was Bix's. In December of 1962, Steve Loyacano visited his son again. Loyacano was telling Ben Pollack about the New Orleans Jazz Museum when Pollack told Loyacano that the cornet on the wall had been given to him by Bix in about 1928. Loyacano and Lord then convinced Ben Pollack to donate the cornet to the Museum. In July of 1963, Pollack, Loyacano and Lord met in Lord's office where Pollack donated Bix's cornet to the New Orleans Jazz Museum.
I am indebted to Steve Teeter, the curator of the Louisiana
State Museum Jazz Collection for giving me copies of the articles
mentioned above, for the courtesy he extended to me during my visit to
the museum, and for his patience in answering my questions.
PUTNAM MUSEUM AWARDED GRANT FOR
BIX BEIDERBECKE EXHIBITION PROJECT
The Putnam Museum announces the award of a consultation grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to continue work on the Bix Beiderbecke Exhibition Project.
The grant from the NEH Division of Public Programs, in the amount of $9,300, will be used to assemble a group of humanities scholars and programming specialists to assist in developing the exhibition. The grant activity will help to develop humanities themes for the exhibit that were evident through Bix Beiderbecke's life and career including the development of jazz, social and cultural history of 1920s America and race relations. The project team will explore interpretive issues and public programming ideas, which will result in an exhibit that is exciting, innovative and relevant for a broad audience.
Grant awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities are the result of a rigorous, highly selective review process designed to choose those projects that are worthy of scarce federal funding. The Putnam Museum is one of only 32 museums and historical organizations across the nation that received NEH consultation grants from the current competitive round. According to Nancy Rogers, Director of the NEH Division of Public Programs, "The Endowment finds the proposed consultation project successfully weaves colorful highlights of Bix's life and jazz history with broader social and cultural themes in United States history. We are pleased that community members are involved in the shaping of the project and that team efforts will be guided by well-chosen consultants from a variety of humanities disciplines."
The Putnam Museum initiated the development of the Bix Beiderbecke Exhibition Project in 1997, with a grant award from the Riverboat Development Authority. An Advisory Committee of local and national individuals with an interest in the project have worked closely with Museum staff under the leadership of Curator of History, Eunice Schlichting. A preliminary conceptual design, produced by Chicago designer Roy Alexander, will provide a foundation to continue the exhibit research and development.
"Future plans for the expansion of the Putnam will facilitate the installation of the Bix Beiderbecke exhibit within the next few years," according to Museum Director/CEO Chris Reich. "The NEH grant provides a wonderful opportunity to benefit from the participation of noted humanities scholars and program specialists to assist us in developing an exhibition that will connect the Quad Cities with the growing international interest in Bix and his music."
I am grateful to Kathy Gould for sending me the
press release about the grant.
The center, larger plaque behind the bust reads
LEON "BIX" BEIDERBECKE
THIS, AND THE LIVING MEMORIALS OF THE JAZZ
FESTIVAL AND MUSICAL SCHOLARSHIPS HAVE
BEEN MADE POSSIBLE BY THE DEDICATED
EFFORTS OF HUNDREDS OF VOLUNTEERS
AND MUSICIANS TO PERPETUATE
THE LEGEND OF "BIX".
THE BIX BEIDERBECKE MEMORIAL SOCIETY
A photograph of the plaque on the left is shown below
A photograph of the plaque on the right is shown below
The memory of Bix is kept alive in a simple
and modest manner, just as he would have wanted it.
Through His Music, Bix Is
BRIEF TABLE OF CONTENTS
|A Brief Biography||Articles in Magazines||The Bix Beiderbecke Memorial Society|
|Bix's Musical Genius||Video Tapes||Items of Special Interest|
|Biographies||Audio Tapes||Information of Related Interest|
|Chapters in Books||Museums||A Stamp for Bix in 2003|
|Scholarly Dissertations||Miscellaneous||Links to Related Sites|
|Obituaries||Readers' Queries and Remarks||Celebration of Bix's Musical Legacy|
The Original 78's
Analysis of Some Recordings: Is It Bix or Not ?
Complete Compilations of Bix's Recordings
Tributes to Bix
Miscellaneous Recordings Related to Bix
In A Mist