Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

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THE OLD ARM-CHAIR.                                                         21
Henry Russell, the famous composer, who made the air to which "The Old Arm-Chair" is set, was born in England about 1812. He is said to have been of Jewish descent, but those who were intimate with him say that his features did not indicate it. He began his professional life as a music-teacher, and while he was pursuing that vocation in Bir­mingham, his talents so fascinated Miss Isabella Lloyd, daughter of a rich Quaker banker, who possessed twenty-five thousand dollars a year in her own right, that she ran away from home and married him. Russell wrote music for some of Charles Mackey's spirited lyrics, and got up a series of concerts which were very popular throughout the British Islands. Authorities differ respecting his voice; contemporary journals speak of its mag­nificent quality and compass, while a trustworthy account says that he sang effectively, without anything like a voice. He certainly had power to move audiences, and much of his success came from his selection of simple and picturesque words, which he rendered with feeling and a perfectly distinct utterance. He sang the pathetic and the rollicking with equal success.
Russell visited the United States about 1843, and is still well remembered here. He carried home golden spoils; and after a few successful tours in the old world, gave up the stage entirely and devoted himself to a business more profitable even than that of a favor­ite singer. He became a bill-discounter, what we should call a " note-shaver," in London, and amassed an immense fortune.

E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III