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Whiting, George E(lbridge)

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Whiting, George E(lbridge)

(b Holliston, MA, 14 Sept 1842; d Cambridge, MA, 14 Oct 1923). American organist and composer. He began his studies with his brother Amos at the age of five. In 1858 he succeeded Dudley Buck as organist of the North Congregational Church at Hartford, where he also organized a Beethoven Society. In 1862 he moved to Boston, where he served briefly as organist of the Mount Vernon Church and the Tremont Temple. He soon left for organ study under George W. Morgan in New York and in 1863 with William T. Best in Liverpool. Returning to the USA, he spent three years at St Joseph’s, Albany, and then five years at King’s Chapel in Boston, where he also served as organist of the Music Hall for one season.

In 1874 he went to Berlin for study under Haupt and Radecke, returning to Boston two years later as organist of the Church of the Immaculate Conception (until 1910) and head of the organ department of the New England Conservatory (until 1898). He remained in Boston for the rest of his life except for three or four years as head of the organ department at the College of Music in Cincinnati, at the invitation of Theodore Thomas. His compositions include an opera, Leonora (1893), a symphony in C minor, a piano concerto in D minor, a suite for cello and orchestra, choral works, service music, numerous organ compositions and partsongs. He also wrote several volumes of studies for beginning organists. His music was popular with his contemporaries and was admired by Elson for its melodic charm and well-mannered dramatic effects.


DAB (J.T. Howard)

L.C. Elson: The History of American Music (New York, enlarged 3/1925/R), 265–7


Whiting, Richard A.

(b Peoria, IL, 12 Nov 1891; d Beverly Hills, CA, 10 Feb 1938). American songwriter. He taught himself the piano and music theory, and induced his father to publish his first songs. In 1912 he became manager of the Detroit office of the music publisher Remick, who also issued some of his songs. Among his earliest successes were It’s tulip time in Holland (1915), Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose (1916), and Till We Meet Again (1918). In 1919 he moved to New York where he wrote songs for the revue Toot Sweet and George White’s first Scandals; his best-known songs date from the 1920s and include Japanese Sandman (1920), Ain’t we got fun? (1921), and Breezin’ Along with the Breeze (1926). Whiting became one of the first important Hollywood composers, beginning as a writer of music for silent films; later works include Innocents of Paris (1929), Monte Carlo (1930), Ready Willing and Able (1937) and Hollywood Hotel (1938). He was one of the most successful Tin Pan Alley songwriters of the 1920s and 1930s. Although he wrote lyrics, these were often naive; his melodies, however, with their recurrent motifs and unusual intervals following sudden harmonic shifts, often have a graceful and effortless style. His daughters, Margaret and Barbara Whiting, were popular singers.


(selective list)

Selective edition: Ain’t We Got Fun: the Great Songs of Richard Whiting (Secaucus, NJ, 1991)


(dates are those of first New York performance)

Toot Sweet (R.B. Egan), 7 May 1919

George White’s Scandals of 1919 (A. Jackson), 2 June 1919

Free for All (O. Hammerstein and L. Schwab), 8 Sept 1931

Take a Chance (B.G. DeSylva and Schwab), collab. V. Youmans, N.H. Brown, 26 Nov 1932 [incl. Eadie was a lady, You’re an old smoothie]; film, 1933


(lyrics by L. Robin unless otherwise stated)

Close Harmony, 1929 [incl. I’m all a-twitter]; The Dance of Life, 1929 [incl. True Blue Lou, King of Jazzamania]; Innocents of Paris, 1929 [incl. Louise]; Sweetie (G. Marion), 1929 [incl. My Sweeter than Sweet, Prep Step]; Let’s go Native (Marion), 1930 [incl. Let’s go native, Don’t I do?]; Monte Carlo, 1930, collab. W.F. Harling [incl. Beyond the Blue Horizon, Always in All Ways]; Playboy of Paris, 1930, collab. N. Chase [incl. It’s a great life, My Ideal]; Safety in Numbers (Marion), 1930 [incl. My future just passed]

One Hour with You, 1932, collab. O. Straus [incl. One Hour with You]; Bright Eyes (S. Clare), 1934 [incl. On the Good Ship Lollipop]; Ready Willing and Able (Mercer), 1937 [incl. Too Marvelous for Words]; Varsity Show (Mercer), 1937 [incl. Have you got any castles, baby?]; Hollywood Hotel (J. Mercer), 1938 [incl. Hooray for Hollywood, I’m like a fish out of water]


(all printed works published in NewYork)

It’s tulip time in Holland (D. Redford) (1915); Where the Black-Eyed Susans Grow (Redford) (1916); Mammy’s Little Coal Black Rose (Egan) (1916); Till We Meet Again (Egan) (1918); I guess I’m more like mother than like father (Egan), in A Lonely Romeo, 1919; Japanese Sandman (Egan) (1920); Ain’t we got fun? (Egan, G. Kahn) (1921); Sleepy Time Gal (J.R. Alden, Egan) (1925); Breezin’ Along with the Breeze (1926); Horses (B. Gay) (1926); When did you leave heaven? (W. Bullock), in Sing, Baby, Sing (film), 1936; I can’t escape from you (L. Robin), in Rhythm on the Range (film), 1937

Principal publishers: Famous, Harms, Remick


D. Ewen: Popular American Composers (New York, 1962; suppl. 1972)

A. Wilder: American Popular Song: the Great Innovators, 1900–1950 (New York, 1972)

R. Hemming: The Melody Lingers On: the Great Songwriters and their Movie Musicals (New York, 1986)

D. Ewen: American Songwriters (New York, 1987)

A. Forte: The American Popular Ballad of the Golden Era, 1924–1950 (Princeton, NJ, 1995)


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