Al Piantadosi (born John Alberto Joseph Piantadosi) 18 August 1882 New York, New York[a] – 8 April 1955 Encino, California) was an American composer of popular music during the heyday of Tin Pan Alley. He started out as a saloon and vaudeville pianist and rapidly flourished as a songwriter. For about ten years — from 1918 to 1928, he was an independent music publisher.
Piantadosi was born August 18, 1882, in the Italian Quarter of Manhattan, New York. Early in his career (circa 1906), Piantadosi gained recognition as "Ragtime Al," playing piano at Callahan's Dance Hall on Manhattan's at Chatham Square and Doyers Street in Chinatown, where he wrote the briefly popular "My Mariucci Take a Steamboat" with lyricist George Ronklyn (1878–1943), the bouncer at Callahan's known as "Big Jerry."
Piantadosi's compositions include "I'm Awfully Glad I'm Irish" (1910) and "That's How I Need You" (1912). "The Curse of an Aching Heart" (1913) became his most famous tearjerker. He also composed "Mississippi Days" (1916) and "If You Had All the World and Its Gold."
War protest and subsequent controversy
His composition, "I Didn't Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier" (1915) became a controversial protest song. It sold 650,000 copies in the first three months, which helped establish American World War I pacifism as a quantifiable political reality. The song continued to sell well until the United States entered the World War I in 1917. Then it was pretty much discarded. However, a few pro-war writers modified the lyrics in new melodies, including "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Coward," by Charles Clinton Case (1843–1918) (composer) and Franklin G. McCauley (lyricist) and "I Didn't Raise My Boy To Be A Slacker," a march by Theodore Baker (1917, G. Schirmer).
Harry Haas brought a plagiarism suit against Leo Feist, Incorporated, claiming that the melody was from a song he composed in 1914, "You'll Never Know How Much I Really Cared" — Bill Cahalin (né William R. Cahalin; born around 1883), lyricist. The plaintiffs won. And, although credit was never changed, Cahalin won a large settlement. Adolph Deutsch (born 1868), a raincoat maker, was a one-third partner on the song with Haas and Cahalin.
Five of his compositions exceeded sales of one million copies.
In 1914, Piantadosi became a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP).
In 1918, Al Piantadosi and his brother, George, founded Al. Piantadosi & Company, Inc. Personnel that year included:
- Himself, Al Piantadosi, as President
- Herbert Inman Avery (1887–1955), General Manager
- Jack Glogau, Professional Manager
- George Piantadosi, Western Manager at 113 North Dearborn Street, Chicago; in February 1920, he left the firm to work for McCarthy & Fisher, Inc.
By 1920, the firm suffered financial duress, owing $40,708.87 with only $7,521.26 in the till. After reaching an agreement to pay creditors 10% in lieu of filing for protection under bankruptcy, Frank Goodman, an employee, paid it and took over the company.
From early 1923 to mid 1924, Piantadosi tried his hand at selling real estate lots in Hollywood.
Later life and death
In 1931, with debt of $17,717 and assets of $500, Piantadosi filed for bankruptcy in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.
- "My Mariuccia" ("Take a Steamboat") "She's Gone Away"
- "I'm A Yiddish Cowboy" ("Tough Guy Levi")
- "Good-Bye Mister Caruso"
- "Just Like The Rose"
- "Good Luck Mary"
- "Think It Over, Mary"
- "The Vampire Love Song"
- "That Dreamy Italian Waltz"
- "In All My Dreams, I Dream of You"
- "I'm Awfully Glad I'm Irish"
- "That Italian Serenade"
- "Somehow I Can't Forget You"
- "I Just Met The Fellow That Married The Girl That I Was Going To Get"
- "Honey Man"
- "When Broadway Was A Pasture"
- "That's How I Need You"
- "The Curse of an Aching Heart"
- "Any Boy Could Love a Girl Like You"
- "Melinda's Wedding Day"
- "Then I'll Stop Loving You"
- "At The Yiddish Wedding Jubilee"
- "I've Only One Idea About The Girls And That's To Love 'Em"
- "On The Shores of Italy"
- "I've Loved You Since You Were a Baby" ("And Now I Can't Live Without You")
- "What a Wonderful Mother You'd Be"
- "My Own Venetian Rose"
- "When You're In Love With Someone"
- "How Could Washington Be A Married Man?" ("And Never, Never Tell A Lie?")
- "Mississippi Days"
- "On The Same Old Road"
- "If You Had All The World And Its Gold"
- "Baby Shoes"
- "Send Me Away with a Smile"
- "Someone Is Waiting For You"
- "For France and Liberty"
- "Wild, Wild Women Are Making a Wild Man of Me"
- From the 1918 musical farce Who Stole The Hat
- Conceived and staged by Jack Mason
- "They're The Stars In Our Service Flag"
- "My Salvation Army Girl"
- Al Piantadosi (music)
- Jack Mason (words)
- New York: Al. Piantadosi & Co. (1918)
- OCLC 55722298, 726923786 (pdf copy at the LOC)
- "Belgium Dry Your Tears"
- "I'm Making a Study of Beautiful Girls" ("And I'm Still In My A B C's")
- "What An Army Of Men We'd Have If They Ever Drafted The Girls"
- "The Woman Thou Gavest Me"
- "Rose of the Evening"
- "Pal of My Cradle Days"
- "Behind These Gray Walls"
- "I've Got The Stock Market Blues"
- Al Piantadosi, Jack Glogau (né Jacob A. Glogau; 1886–1953) (words & music)
- Ralph Colicchio (1896–1966)
- © 10 April 1929
- "My Stormy Weather Pal"
- Al Piantadosi (words & music)
- Al Piantadosi (1929)
- "A Whistle Girl At A Whistle Stop"
- Jean Schwartz, Dick Coburn, Al Piantadosi (words & music)
Pseudonyms of Piantadosi
- Ed. Lovey — "Ed." was likely an abbreviation for the given name of his wife, Edna Hannah Robinson (maiden; 1889–1962); "Lovey" was the maiden name of his wife's mother, Bertha (née Lovey; 1858–1936)
- Piantadosi's date of birth is, in some instances, listed as July 1883 and July 1884; however, August is the birth-month cited by Piantadosi's 1918 and 1942 military draft records, as well as his California death record. The 1900 US Census (the last name is mangled as Pafafisola but all other demographics are a match) clearly shows that Albert was born in August 1882; so this would be likely be the year of birth, given the birth months and years of his younger siblings
- Ted S. Barron and W. A. Thompson were principals at Barron & Thompson Company of New York; the catalog of Barron & Thompson was acquired in December 1908 by the Shapiro Company
- Harry Cooper Music Publishing Company was incorporated in New York in 1908; the founding directors were Charles Kennedy, Moses Lazarus, and Harry Cooper, all of New York city
- R.S. (stem rose emblem) — Rosenbaum Studios, Morris Rosenbaum (1886–1957), who formed the studio in the 1910s
- "New York, New York City Marriage Records, 1829–1940," database FamilySearch (John Albert Joseph Piantadosi," (retrieved February 20, 2016); Marriage: John Albert Joseph Piantadosi & Edna Hannah Robinson, April 10, 1916, Manhattan, New York
- Jasen, David A. (1988). Tin Pan Alley: the Composers, the Songs, the Performers and Their Times. Donald I. Fine, Inc. p. 141. ISBN 1556110995.
- "No. 22: Al Piantadosi," Billboard, June 11, 1949, pg. 38
- The Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music; Composers and Their Music (Piantadosi is in Vol. 2 of 2), by William H. Rehrig & Paul E. Bierley (eds.), Westerville, Ohio: Integrity Press
(1991); OCLC 24606813
(1996); OCLC 24606813
- ASCAP Biographical Dictionary
3rd ed. (1966); OCLC 10721505
4th ed. (1980); Jaques Cattell Press, R.R. Bowker; OCLC 7065938
- Biographical Dictionary of American Music, by Charles Eugene Claghorn (1911–2005), Parker Publishing Company, Inc. (1973); OCLC 609781
- Biography Index, Vol. 3, September 1952 – August 1955, New York: H.W. Wilson Co. (1956); ISSN 0006-3053
- American Popular Songs; From the Revolutionary War to the Present, David Ewen (ed.), New York: Random House (1966); OCLC 598027
- The New Grove Dictionary of American Music (Piantadosi is in Vol. 3 of 4), H. Wiley Hitchcock & Stanley Sadie (eds.), London: Macmillan Press (1986); OCLC 13184437
- Obituaries on File, (Piantadosi is in Vol. 1 of 2), compiled by Felice D. Levy, New York: Facts on File (1979); OCLC 4933813
- The Complete Encyclopedia of Popular Music and Jazz, 1900–1950 (Piantadosi is in Vol. 3 of 4), by Roger D. Kinkle (1916–2000), New Rochelle: Arlington House Publishers (1974); OCLC 897890
- "Albert Piantadosi" (bio), by Perfessor Bill Edwards (aka William G. Motley III; born 1959), (www
.ragpiano .com) (retrieved February 22, 1016)
- "Piantadosi, Al" (obituary), Billboard, April 23, 1955, pg. 60
- Bergreen, Laurence (1990). As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin. Hodder and Stoughton. p. 26. ISBN 0-340-53486-9.
- Jasen, David A. (1915). For Me and My Gal and Other Favorite Song Hits, 1915–1917. Courier Dover Publications. p. viii. ISBN 978-0-486-28127-8.
- Studwell, William Emmett; Schueneman, Bruce R. (1998). State Songs of the United States: An Annotated Anthology. Routledge. p. 47. ISBN 978-0-7890-0397-3.
- Decisions of the United States Courts Involving Copyright, 1914–1917 (Second Series, 1914–16), Library of Congress pg. 128; ISSN 0070-3176, OCLC 123259586
- "Harry Haas, vs. Leo Feist, Incorporated" Federal Reporter, Vol. 234, September — October, 1916, West Publishing, pg. 106; ISSN 0311-3094
- "Poetics Of The Frugal Housewife: A Modernist Narrative Of The Great War and America," Mark Van Wienen, American Literary History, Vol. 7, No. 1, Spring, 1995, pps. 55–91; (retrieved February 22, 2016, via JSTOR (www
.jstor .org /stable /489798)
- "Goodman Offer Accepted," New York Clipper, June 9, 1920, pg. 34
- "10% For Piantadosi Creditors," New York Clipper, May 26, 1920, pg. 17
- "Alfred Piantadosi" (biography), Website host: Alfred Music (www
.alfred .com) (retrieved May 12, 2014)
- "Business Records — Bankruptcy Proceedings," New York Times, October 3, 1931, col. 2
- "Al Piantadosi," Find a Grave (retrieved October 9, 2013)