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by Newsweek Magazine
Septimus Winner was a Philadelphian who lived from 1826 to 1902. Under his own name he wrote on musical subjects for Graham's Magazine, authored a standard book on banjo instruction, and arranged or composed more than 2,000 numbers for violin and piano. And he wrote, "Oh, where, oh, where has my little dog gone?"
But it is as Alice Hawthorne that Winner will probably be remembered. That was the name he put on compositions such as "Listen to the Mocking Bird," which eventually made $3,000,000 for its publishers. Another product of Alice Hawthorne's pen—and the last big hit Winner produced— was "Whispering Hope," written in 1868.
Hymnlike in style, "Whispering Hope" was a great Sunday-night favorite around the parlor piano. Revived by Alma Gluck and Louise Homer on an early Victor record, the song took on a new life with a new medium. But that was still not the end of "Whispering Hope." Paul Weston, musical director for Capitol records, had heard the Gluck-Homer disk as a youngster. Looking for new material for Jo Stafford (whom he has already guided from pops to hill­billy to folk songs), Weston thought of "Whispering Hope." Combining Miss Stafford with Gordon MacRae was the next step, and the record was issued last July.
The disk jockeys and the juke-box trade heard it with little interest. But the first month's sales of the melancholy tune went above 100,000 copies. Thereupon Decca waxed it with the Andrews Sisters, and disk jockeys began to play it—mostly on Sundays and in the evenings. And as of last week Capitol knew it had a "standard" on its hands, with a solid sale of 500,000 virtually assured. Sep Winner alias Alice Hawthorne would have been amazed.
"Reprinted by permission from Newsweek, Vol. 34, No. 14, Oc­tober 3, 1949."