Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946

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Harry Von Tilzer (b. July 8, 1872 in Goshen, Indiana; d. January 10, 1946 in New York) was a songwriter, music publisher and performer. The family name was Gumm, but Harry added "Von" to his mother's maiden name to use as a professional pseudonym. His other brothers, with the exception of H. Harold, followed suit. At an early age, he worked in a circus and medicine show as a singer and tumbler. He performed his own songs on the vaudeville circuit and published his first song in 1892. In 1902, he founded the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. (HVTMPC) which became one of the most successful American popular music publishing companies in the early 20th century. He may have been responsible for the invention of the term "Tin Pan Alley" when a journalist coined the phrase after noticing Von Tilzer's habit of placing a strip of paper between the strings of the upright piano in his office to produce a more percussive sound. Von Tilzer was one of the few publishers in the late 1920s to remain independent of the radio and cinema companies that began buying up music firms and their songwriting staffs.

H. Harold Gumm (b. 1881 or 1882; d. July 13, 1973 in New Jersey), Harry Von Tilzer's brother, worked as a theatrical agent, producer, and attorney and handled the legal affairs of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. He and partner William V. Goldie started the firm Goldie & Gumm and represented some of the best known black performers of the 1930s and 1940s on both East and West coasts. Gumm became president of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. after his brother's death in 1946 and served as executor of Harry Von Tilzer's estate.

Other Von Tilzer brothers were involved in music publishing in various ways. Jules Von Tilzer was a manager of Remick's and later president of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. Will Von Tilzer was a lyricist and president of the Broadway Music Corporation. Jack Von Tilzer was a co-founder and director of the York Music Co. together with Albert Von Tilzer, who was also a successful songwriter.

From the description of Von Tilzer / Gumm collection, 1878-1959 (bulk 1900-1949). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 71129931

Biographical Note

Harry Von Tilzer was born Harold Gumm on July 8, 1872 to Jacob and Sarah Tilzer Gumm in Goshen, Indiana. At the age of fourteen he ran away to join the circus, and at seventeen joined the Chamberlain Stock Company in Chicago, changing his name from Gumm to a variant of his mother's maiden name, Von Tilzer. He moved to New York in 1892, and was a performer on the vaudeville circuit for many years, frequently partnered with George Sidney and managed by Tony Pastor. In conjunction with his vaudeville performing, he had been writing songs, and in New York began to peddle them in Tin Pan Alley -- a slang term for the music-publishing district that has been credited to Von Tilzer himself. He joined the publishing firm of Shapiro, Bernstein in 1899, but soon left to form his own firm, the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. (HVTMPC), in 1902.

In his unpublished biography (many drafts of which are found in this collection), Von Tilzer claims to have written over 8000 songs during his career, of which 2000 were published, some of the best known being "A Bird in a Gilded Cage" (1900), "In the Sweet Bye and Bye" (1902), "The Cubanola Glide" (1909), and "That Old Irish Mother of Mine" (1920). In addition, he wrote the music for and financed the production of a number of musicals, including The Fisher Maiden (1903), Heigh Ho (1905), and The Kissing Girl (1909). In addition to writing and publishing songs, Von Tilzer was active in establishing organizations such as the Song Writers' Protective Association, and, as an early and active member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), joined with composers such as Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, Victor Herbert and John Philip Sousa in attempting to effect changes in the music copyright laws.

Harry Von Tilzer had several brothers, most of whom also took the name Von Tilzer: Will Von Tilzer, a music publisher in his own right who was president of the Broadway Music Corporation; Albert Von Tilzer, a songwriter who settled in California and is best known for songs such as "Take Me Out to the Ball Game;" Jules Von Tilzer, who worked with his brother Harry at the HVTMPC; and Jack Von Tilzer, who also worked for a time in the family business. Only H. Harold Gumm retained the family name, and started the firm of Goldie & Gumm with partner William V. Goldie. Trained as a lawyer, Gumm was active on both the East and West Coasts as a theatrical agent and attorney who had as clients some of the best known black performers of the 1930s and 1940s.

The firm of Goldie & Gumm also handled the legal affairs of the Harry Von Tilzer Music Publishing Co. up to and following Harry's death in January of 1946. At that point, Harold Gumm, executor of Von Tilzer's estate, took over as the president of the publishing company. Partner William Goldie continued to handle the firm's legal matters from that point, but Gumm's activities as a theatrical agent were largely curtailed. Extensive litigation over the HVTMPC catalog dragged through the 1940s and 1950s, and the catalog was put up for sale in 1957.

From the guide to the Von Tilzer / Gumm Collection, 1878-1959, (bulk 1900-1949), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Moss, George H. George Moss collection, 1885-1935 (bulk 1900-1925). Library of Congress
referencedIn London, Herbert Ira,. Herbert I. London collection, 1900-1980. Indiana Historical Society Library
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946. Bird in a gilded cage. University of North Texas Library, UNT
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry. The jolly baron, or the miller's daughter [microform] : a modern comic opera in two acts / book by Addison Burkhardt and Aaron A. Hoffman ; lyrics by Arthur J. Lamb ; music by Harry von Tilzer. University of Missouri -- Columbia, MU Libraries; University of Missouri; MU; Ellis Library; University of Missouri Columbia
creatorOf Von Tilzer / Gumm Collection, 1878-1959, (bulk 1900-1949) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Guide to the Mick Moloney Irish-American Music and Popular Culture Irish Americana Collection, 1817-1995 Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946. Wait till the sun shines, Nellie : 1905 / Harry von Tilzer ; arr. Walter Ross. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946. Von Tilzer / Gumm collection, 1878-1959 (bulk 1900-1949). Library of Congress
referencedIn Edison Sheet Music Collection, 1830-1958, (bulk 1890-1940) Library of Congress. Music Division
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946. "The fisher maiden" [microform] : an entirely original comic opera in two acts / libretto by Arthur J. Lamb ; score by Harry Von Tilzer. University of Missouri -- Columbia, MU Libraries; University of Missouri; MU; Ellis Library; University of Missouri Columbia
creatorOf Von Tilzer, Harry, 1872-1946. Rufus Rastus Johnson Brown. University of North Texas Library, UNT
creatorOf Hoschna, Karl L., 1877-1911. Madame Sherry [collection] : a three act French vaudeville / book and lyrics by Otto Hauerbach ; music by Karl L. Hoschna. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
referencedIn Popular Music Archives, ca. 1890-ca. 1970 C.W. Post University
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith A. B. Sterling person
associatedWith Addison Burkhardt person
associatedWith Ad. Singer person
associatedWith Al Piantadosi person
associatedWith Andrew Sterling person
associatedWith Arthur James person
associatedWith Arthur Lamb person
associatedWith Ballard McDonald person
associatedWith Bert Reed person
associatedWith Bill Murray person
associatedWith Billy Curtis person
associatedWith Billy Jerome person
correspondedWith Billy K. Wells person
associatedWith Brian Donlevy person
associatedWith Bryan, Vincent person
associatedWith Bud Cooper person
associatedWith Burkhardt, Addison. person
associatedWith Charlie Burns person
associatedWith Chris Lane person
associatedWith Connie Ediss person
associatedWith Curtis, Billy person
associatedWith C.W. Post College. B. Davis Schwartz Memorial Library. Special collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Dave Dreyer person
associatedWith Dave Lewis person
associatedWith Davidson, Walter person
correspondedWith Dolph Singer person
associatedWith Douglas Grant person
associatedWith Duke, Vernon, 1903-1969. person
associatedWith Eddie Clark person
associatedWith Eddie P. Moran person
associatedWith Edgar Allen Woolff person
associatedWith Ed Moran person
associatedWith Ed Smalls person
associatedWith Edward Clark person
associatedWith Edward Moran person
associatedWith Edward P. Moran person
correspondedWith Everett Lynton person
correspondedWith George A. Kershaw person
associatedWith George Kershaw person
associatedWith George T. Higgins person
associatedWith George Totten Smith person
associatedWith Goldie & Gumm. corporateBody
associatedWith Gum family. family
associatedWith Gum family. family
associatedWith Gumm, H. Harold. person
associatedWith Hairston, Jester, 1901-2000. person
associatedWith Hale, Teddy. person
associatedWith Harry D. Kerr person
associatedWith Harry Fox person
associatedWith Harry S. Burnhardt person
correspondedWith Harry Tilsley person
correspondedWith Harry Von Tilzer person
associatedWith Harry Von Tilzer Music Pub. Co. corporateBody
associatedWith Harvey, Georgette. person
associatedWith H. C. Greene person
associatedWith Herman Ruby person
associatedWith Hoffman, Aaron A. person
associatedWith Hoschna, Karl L., 1877-1911. person
associatedWith Hugh Stanislaus Stange person
associatedWith Ingram, Rex, 1895-1969. person
associatedWith Jack Singer, arranger person
associatedWith James Stanley Royce person
correspondedWith Jas. W. Tate person
associatedWith Jerome, William person
correspondedWith J. Fred Coote person
associatedWith Joe Laurie, Jr. person
correspondedWith John P. Harrington person
associatedWith Joseph H. McKean person
associatedWith Junie McCree person
associatedWith Junie McCree with person
correspondedWith J. Vincent Healy person
associatedWith Kathryn Bartlett person
associatedWith Lamb, Arthur J., 1870-1928. person
associatedWith Leo Donnelly person
associatedWith Leonard Nelson person
associatedWith Lillian Morton person
associatedWith McCree, Junie person
associatedWith McCree, Junie, 1865-1918. person
associatedWith Melville person
associatedWith Moloney, Mick (Michael) person
associatedWith Moss, George H. person
associatedWith Nat Vincent person
associatedWith Nordstrom, Frances. person
associatedWith Ray Goetz person
associatedWith Raymond Walker person
associatedWith Ross, Walter, 1936- person
associatedWith Singer, Dolph person
associatedWith Singer, Dolph, 1900-1942. person
associatedWith Stanley Murphy person
associatedWith Sterling, Andrew person
correspondedWith Sterling, Andrew B., b. 1874 person
associatedWith Taylor Granville person
associatedWith Theodore Lesser person
associatedWith Thomas A. Edison, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Tom Barry person
associatedWith Vincent Bryan person
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associatedWith Vincent P. Bryan person
associatedWith Von Tilzer, Albert. person
associatedWith Von Tilzer, Jules. person
associatedWith Will Heagney person
correspondedWith William Jerome person
associatedWith Wimperis, Arthur person
associatedWith W. Vaughan Dunham person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
African American entertainers
Dance orchestra music
Musical theater
Musical theater
Musical theater
Musical theater
Popular music
Popular music
Popular music
Music publishers
Music publishers
Music publishing
Music publishing
Popular instrumental music
Salon orchestra music
Songs (Medium voice) with orchestra, Arranged
Theatrical agents
Theatrical agents


Birth 1872-07-08

Death 1946-01-10




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