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Blanche Robinson

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Blanche Robinson

Blanche Robinson (Mrs. Martin Hennion Robinson; (née Williams 18 May 1883, near Liberty, Kansas – 19 August 1969, Los Angeles) was an American composer and well-known piano accompanist. During her prolific years as a composer, she lived in New York City. During her more active years as a piano accompanist, she lived in Los Angeles. In her published music, she was known as Mrs. M. Hennion Robinson or Mrs. M. Hennion-Robinson.

Two Blanche Robinsons & two Blanch Williams of the same era

(i) Because Blanche Robinson's maiden name was "Williams" and (ii) because Blanche Robinson wrote and used poetry in art songs that she composed, she might be confused with Blanche Robinson Williams (b 1895), the poet from Virginia — who, separately, might be confused with Blanche Colton Williams, PhD (1879–1944), the author and former head of the English department at Hunter College.[1]

Music career

Before she became a teenager, Robinson began accepting engagements in concert work, and under the management of Mr. Pardee and Miss Weber toured the Middle West in recital as concert pianist. In 1901 her father's business called him to California, and the family moved to Los Angeles.

For nearly three years after arriving in Los Angeles, Robinson did concert work and was soloist on many notable programs. Around 1904, Robinson began specializing exclusively in accompaniment. She accompanied artists that included George Hamlin, Jeannie Jornelli, Marcella Craft, Maggie Teyte, and Pavlowa, Franz Wilcez and Hugo Herrman. For nine years she was the accompanist for the Woman's Lyric Club, and for five years of the Ellis Club.

Robinson became a pupil in composition of Frederick Stephenson in Los Angeles. Her The Woman at Home, a chorus for women's voices, was performed with much success by the Lyric Club. Among her better known compositions are Songs of You, The Mystic Hour, Youth, Fairies, Butterflies, The Dawn of Dawns, and a chorus for men's voices, A Song for Heroes. She performed under the management of Mr. Behymer in concert work. She also performed with Ebell Club, the Friday Morning Club, the Gamut Club, and many leading artists who toured Los Angeles.[2]

Family

Robinson died August 19, 1969, in Los Angeles.[4] Her ashes are stored at Woodlawn Memorial Cemetery, Santa Monica, next to those of her daughter Dorothy B. Robinson (1906 Los Angeles – 2004), also a pianist.

Music club and sorority affiliations

Both Blanche Robinson and her daughter, Dorothy Robinson, were members of The Dominant Club, a Los Angeles charitable club of women musicians founded in 1906 that promotes women in classical music and chamber music. Blanche Robinson was a charter member and past president of The Dominant Club.[5]

In 1928, Blanche Robinson was inducted as an honorary member of Sigma Alpha Iota (ΣΑΙ), Sigma Xi Chapter of the University of California, Los Angeles. ΣΑΙ is an international fraternity for women in music.

Early education

At age nine, Robinson's family moved to Chicago; there, she began eight-years of study with William Charles Ernest Seeboeck (21 August 1859 Vienna, Austria – 1907 Chicago), a gifted pianist and composer who had been a student of Anton Rubinstein (1829-1894).[2][6][7]

Selected compositions

  • "Love Was a Beggar," written for Mary McCormic, music by Robinson
  • "Love's Trilogy," a song for four-part chorus of women's voices, words by E. Sterrett, music by Robinson, G. Schirmer (1925) OCLC 8421454
  • "The Fairies," words & music by Robinson, G. Schirmer (1926) OCLC 8421496 and 497213655
  • "The Woman at Home," a chorus for women's voices
  • "Songs of You"
  • "The Mystic Hour"
  • "Youth," music by Robinson, words by Mrs. Louise Stedman Bostick OCLC 8437280
  • "Butterflies"
  • "The Dawn of Dawns," music by Robinson, words by Ina Donna Coolbrith OCLC 8449871
  • "The Chudder Weaver," for high or medium voice, music by Robinson, words by Frances Hull Topping (b. 1879), G. Schirmer (©July 3, 1937) OCLC 499059208
  • "Two pictures," for voice and piano, G. Schirmer (©1924) LCCN unk84197289 OCLC 498637345
  • "The Lover's Errand"

Ellis Club of Los Angeles Collection of Musical Arrangements and Papers

Processed by the staff of the Dept. of Music Special Collections, UCLA
UCLA Library, Performing Arts Special Collections Online Archive of California
  • "Baffled," in C minor, music by Robinson (TTBB - voice parts only); words by Helen Combes (mimeograph, n.d.) (©May 31, 1932), Harms, Inc. OCLC 809039155
  • "Marmela," music by Robinson (TTBB, voice parts only); words by Mabel W. Phillips (mimeograph, n.d.)
  • "A Song for Heroes," music by Robinson (TTBB), words by Edwin Markham (mimeograph, n.d.)
  • "King Robert of Sicily," music by Robinson (SATB with narration; chorus parts only); words by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (mimeograph, n.d.)
  • "Liebestraum," by Franz Liszt, arrangement (TTBB) and words by Robinson (mimeograph, n.d.)

Discography

  • Songs and Choral Music, (LP) (©1959)
Frederick Davis, conductor; Women's Lyric Club of Los Angeles; M. Hennion Robinson, piano; works by Handel, Schubert, Musorgsky, Britten and Zador[8]
  • 50th Anniversary Concert, Woman's Lyric Club (LP) (1954) OCLC 55857256
The Woman's Lyric Club; Mrs. M. Hennion Robinson, piano; Heimo Haitto, violin; Benjamin Edwards, conductor[9]
  1. "Music Spread thy Voice Around," George Frideric Handel
  2. "Come Unto These Yellow Sands," Henry Purcell
  3. "Do Not Go My Love," Richard Hageman (Enid Jacobsen, contralto)
  4. "Spring Morning in the Hills," Elinor Remick Warren
  5. "The Lover's Errand," Mrs. M. Hennion Robinson
  6. "The Snow," Edward Elgar
  7. "Hymn to the Waters," Gustav Holst
  8. "Le Papillon," Felix Fourdrain (Merlyn Pearce, soprano)
  9. "Where Silence Speaks," Benjamin Edwards
  10. "Le Nil," Xavier Leroux
  11. "Spanish Gypsy Girl," Eduard Lassen

Participation in a judges panel to select a California state song

In 1921, Lynden Ellsworth Behymer (1862-1947), impresario, and Bessie Bartlett Frankel (Mrs. Cecil Frankel) (1884-1959), donated a sum of money to the California Federation of Music Clubs to hold a contest for lyrics to a state song "of real value." The judges were Benjamin Franklin Field (1868-1960), chairman of the federation and chairman of the committee of judges, Grace Atherton Dennen (1874-1927), editor and publisher of The Lyric West, and Blanche Robinson. The judges selected Mary Lennox of San Francisco on January 17, 1922, as the winner for her composition, California, Sweet Homeland of Mine.

References

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