Harry Von Tilzer
|Harry Von Tilzer|
July 8, 1872
|Died||January 10, 1946
New York City
|Relatives||Albert Von Tilzer, brother|
Von Tilzer was born in Detroit, Michigan under the name Harry Gumm. His parents, Sarah (Tilzer) and Jacob Gumbinsky, were Polish Jewish immigrants. Harry adopted his mother's maiden name as his own. He sought to make it sound even classier by tacking on a "Von." So impressive seemed the transformation that eventually all his brothers changed their last name to match his. He ran away and joined a traveling circus at age 14, where he took his new name by adding 'Von' to his mother's maiden name 'Tilzer'.
Harry soon proved successful playing piano and calliope and writing new tunes and incidental music for the shows. He continued doing this in Burlesque and Vaudeville shows for some years, writing many tunes which were not published or which he sold to entertainers for 1 or 2 dollars. In 1898 he sold his song "My Old New Hampshire Home" to a publisher for $15, and watched it become a national hit, selling over 2 million copies of the sheet music. This prompted him to become a professional songwriter.
He was made a partner of the Shapiro Bernstein Publishing Company. His 1900 number "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" became one of the biggest hits of the age. Von Tilzer became one of the best known Tin Pan Alley songwriters. In 1902 Von Tilzer formed his own publishing company, where he was soon joined by his younger brother Albert Von Tilzer.
Harry Von Tilzer's hits included "A Bird in a Gilded Cage", "Cubanola Glide", "Wait 'Til The Sun Shines Nellie", "Old King Tut", "All Alone", "Mariutch", "The Ragtime Goblin Man," "I Love My Wife, But Oh You Kid!", "They Always Pick On Me", "I Want A Girl (Just Like The Girl That Married Dear Old Dad)" (with lyrics by William Dillon), "And The Green Grass Grew All Around", "On the Old Fall River Line", and many others.
Work on Broadway
- The Fisher Maiden (1903) - opera - composer
- The Man From Now (1906) - musical - featured composer
- The Dairymaids (1907) - musical - featured songwriter
- Ziegfeld Follies of 1910 (1910) - revue - featured composer for "I'll Get You Yet"
- Doctor Jazz (1975) - musical - featured songwriter for "I Love It"
- Tintypes (1980) - revue - featured songwriter
- "Harry Von Tilzer Found Dead in Room". New York Times. January 11, 1946. "Harry Von Tilzer, the American popular song writer who created such "hit" numbers of earlier music hall and vaudeville days as "Wait Till the Sun Shines, Nellie," and "A Bird in a Gilded Cage," ..."
- Harry Von Tilzer at the Internet Broadway Database
- Sheet music for his song "Under the Anheuser Bush" from the collection of the San Francisco Public Library
- Harry Von Tilzer songs at Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project - Enter Harry Von Tilzer in Keyword Search window.
- Free scores by Harry Von Tilzer at the International Music Score Library Project