amateur history Uncategorized

E. Pique revealed

My credits for the 1892 song Slightly on the Mash left the creators a mystery:

It was written by A. G. Send, arranged for guitar by the enigmatic E. Pique, and published by J. Oettl. I didn’t find any biographical info or other work by these people.

As it turns out, gurdonark managed to dig up more info:

I found this on Edward Pique:

And looking up that source, which is from 1892:

EDWARD PIQUE, one of the oldest professional musicians on the coast, was born in the city of Prague, Austria, July 15, 1815. He early developed marked talent for music, and later studied guitar music with efficiency. He achieved such marked success that he received the great compliment of being summoned to play before the Empress of Russia and Austria, also the King of Prussia and Saxony and other crowned heads. He came to the United States in 1848, and the following year was united in marriage with Miss Frances Weller, of England, and three years later, in 1852, they came to California. On the evening of the day of his arrival Mr. Pique played for the benefit of Catharine Sinclair, the wife of Edwin Forrest, the great tragedian. Mr. Pique was under engagement to Harry Meiggs, and many years later his wife opened Assembly Hall as a dancing school, which was then located on the corner of Post and Kearny streets, where the White House now stands. This was for many years one of the most prominent terpischorean halls in the city, and was conducted by Mrs. Pique with ability and financial success. When Mr. Pique first came to San Francisco he sang in the opera, also in many of the churches and in concerts, and was always ready to contribute his efforts and voice in behalf of worthy charities. He has done much in composition, and received the prize composition at the second annual prize competition of Fairbanks & Cole, of Boston. Mr. Pique has been engaged in teaching for over forty years, and is one of the oldest teachers on the coast. He has numerous testimonial letters from members of the profession and friends, all testifying of his worth.

So now we know a lot more about about how this song happened. The guy who converted the original score to a guitar part was a 70-year-old gentleman from Austria. He was an educated musician, a European who had moved to the United States 37 years before at the mature age of 33, and had been in California for 33 years. He was an established player, was probably in semi-retirement, and would have been a natural candidate for this job.

According to C.F. Martin & His Guitars, 1796-1873, Pique knew the founder of Martin Guitars, Martin himself. Pique was a music teacher in Philadelphia in 1850 and also arranged popular songs for guitar.

The Gold Rush started in 1848 and he moved to California in 1852, so his motivation might have been to get rich quick on gold. Given that he was still doing pickup musical work like guitar arranging in his old age, I imagine the career change didn’t work out.

He lived in San Francisco, which was near the location of the dedicatee “Pianissimo”, who lived around present-day Silicon Valley.

1 reply on “E. Pique revealed”

As antiquated and “old obituary” as the phrase now sounds, I come to recognize as times goes by that there is a great value in: “He has numerous testimonial letters from members of the profession and friends, all testifying of his worth”.

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