Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

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bcschipper
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Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Tue Jan 14, 2020 1:53 pm

Joseph Serafin Alschausky (1879 - 1948) is often mentioned as one of the greatest trombone soloists in the line of Friedrich August Belcke (1795 - 1874), Karl Traugott Queisser (1800 - 1846), and Paul Weschke (1867 - 1940). He was extremely entrepreneurial: He played principal trombone in various orchestras, most notably in the Gewandhausorchester Leipzig (1918 - 1924). He composed various works for trombone including two concertos, Walz arias, songs, arrangements etc. He was an active soloist often playing the David Concertino and his own works. He was a teacher and author of a method book. Last but not least he was an innovator in trombone technology (e.g. patent of a double slide trombone), and dealer of trombones. His private life and professional life in Europe has been described in some detail by Handrow (2007, 2010, 2014), Jones (2012), Skrodzki (1979), and Weber (1998).

After moving to the US in 1924, we know much less about his life. Here is what we do know from the literature and what I found out through some archival work:

He played in the Wanamaker Auditorium, New York City, on September 27, 1923, broadcasted in the radio (The Record, Hackensack, N.J., September 27, 1923).

He became principal trombone of the Cincinnati Symphony in 1923 and performed with them David Concertino under Fritz Reiner on November 18, 1923 (Cincinnati Enquirer November 11, 17, 18, 19, 1923). By September 24, 1924, he had left the symphony and played every evening with Alvin Roehr's Music Makers at Bill Hill's Lookout House (Cincinnati Enquirer September 24, 1924).

But by October 3, 1924, he announced the foundation of a orchestral school in Woody, Kern County, near Bakersfield, California (Bakersfield Morning Echo, October 3, 1924).

Later in 1924 he joined Mystic Clayton on a coast-to-coast tour, appearing as a soloist in December 1924 at the Casino Theater, San Francisco (San Francisco Examiner, December 13, December 15). In San Francisco, he also appeared as soloist in the San Francisco Examiner's Christmas Cabaret (San Francisco Examiner, December 14, December 17, December 19).

By 1926, he was in Los Angeles. On August 8, he appeared as a soloist with the Cathay Circle Theater Concert Orchestra on radio KNX (Los Angeles Evening Express, August 7, 1926).

On May 30, 1937, he played as a soloist at a celebration of the German-American Colony at La Crescenta, Los Angeles (Los Angeles Times May 23, 1937).

I note that all references to Alschausky in US newspapers refer to him as "Serafin Alschausky" (although sometimes his name is spelled with typos).


Who knows more?
  1. Why did he leave the Cincinnati Symphony?
  2. Did he became a member of other orchestras after the Cincinnati Symphony? (According to the archives of the San Francisco Symphony he did not appear with them or became a member of the orchestra although he likely knew Alfred Hertz, its music director, from some previous time in Berlin.)
  3. Did he audition for orchestras in the US especially in San Francisco and Los Angeles? (The archives of the San Francisco Symphony do not keep audition records.)
  4. Where else did he appear as soloist in the US? It is unlikely that he stopped his solo career given how active it has been in Europe and in 1923-24 although I am less sure how much demand was there for his music.
  5. How did he respond to jazz and popular music in the US? He was not afraid to appeal to popular demands back in Germany and seemed at ease with playing at variety shows, garden concerts, restaurants etc. but was he able to cater to the different style of popular music in the US? 
  6. Are there recordings of him or with him (perhaps in film)?
  7. Why did he move to Los Angeles? Was he attracted by the film industry? Especially his time from 1925 (when apparently he moved to LA) to his death in 1948 remains a mystery. 
  8. Which students did he teach especially in Los Angeles? Skrodzki (1979) and later authors report that he founded music school in Los Angeles. What was the exact nature of this enterprise?
  9. Did he cooperate with local brass instrument makers (as he did back in Europe with Bohland &Fuchs, Heber, Reisser etc)? Did he act as a seller of music instruments in the US?
  10. Weber (1998) and Jones (2012) quote research by Normann Schweikert, former 2nd horn of the Chicago Symphony according to which Alschausky diedJanuary 15, 1948, in L.A. survived by his wife Ruth who died November 16, 1963, also in LA. Where is his grave? Are there surviving relatives in the US? Did he leave someone an estate with manuscripts, correspondence etc.?
  11. His last address seemed to have been 2211 Brier Avenue, Los Angeles, which Jones (2012) claims to be an empty lot but which according to zillow.com is occupied by a house built in 1932. Are there long-time local senior residents living near by who would remember Alschausky or his wife or eventually other family members?

References:

Handrow, R. (2014). Berühmte Posaunen-Virtuosen. Crescendo-Brass. 

Handrow, R. (2010). Posaunenvirtuosen des Gewandhausorchesters zu Leipzig, in: Verein für Mitteldeutsche Posaunengeschichte e.V. (eds.), Die Deutsche Posaune - Ein Leipziger Welterfolg, Katalog zur Sonderausstellung im Grassi Museum für Musikinstrumente der Universität Leipzig, pp. 76-105. 

Handrow, R. (2007). Josef Franz Serafin Alschausky (1819 - 1948), Musikverlag Bruno Uetz. 

Jones, K.D. (2012). Alschausky Joseph Serafin, ITA Journal, July.

Skrodzki, H. (1979). Joseph Serafin Alschausky. Zu seinem 100. Geburtstag am 12. Maerz 1979, unpublished manuscript.

Weber, K. (1998). Joseph Serafin Alschausky, Das Schallstueck 9 (25, 1st quarter).
harrisonreed
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by harrisonreed » Tue Jan 14, 2020 3:50 pm

Sounds like you need to take a road trip, gumshoe! Grab your magnifying glass and your deerstalker, and get those answers!

I have never heard of this musician, and it would be interesting to hear more!
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:34 pm

Yeah, I am happy to take a road trip down to LA. But unless there are more leads, it won't yield much I am afraid.

Alschausky is probably nowadays most known for his compositions for trombone - although "most known" is an overstatement. For instance, I couldn't find any recording of his trombone Concerto No. 1 on Youtube even though it must have been quite popular in the first half of the 19th century. Here is a recording of his "Walz Aria" No. 2 "My Ideal" by Armin Rosin https://youtu.be/3htmgFeDkEk. By the way, Rosin's father, Otto Silvester Rosin, was also a trombonist and a student of Alschausky back in Germany (as reported by Skrodzki, 1979).

Armin Rosin is supposedly to posses a record with old original solo playing by Alschausky himself (Skrodzki, 1979). It would be nice he puts it on Youtube for everyone to listen to.
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by harrisonreed » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:17 pm

You mean the first half of the 20th century, right? I doubt it, somehow. Arthur Pryor was a sort of household name in the early 20th century, but I don't think people were scrambling to go see him.

Were artists popular globally or even throughout a country then like they are today? Singers and violinists and keyboardists only, right?
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by Doug Elliott » Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:50 pm

I found a little bit more specific information that may help in a search.

full name: Franz Joseph Serafinè Alshausky, or maybe spelled Josef
Born 12 March 1879 Faulquemont, Lorraine, France
Died 15 January 1948 Los Angeles, CA, USA

Anybody here a member of Ancestry.com?
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:14 pm

harrisonreed wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:17 pm
You mean the first half of the 20th century, right? I doubt it, somehow. Arthur Pryor was a sort of household name in the early 20th century, but I don't think people were scrambling to go see him.

Were artists popular globally or even throughout a country then like they are today? Singers and violinists and keyboardists only, right?
Sorry, yes, I mean the first half of the 20th century. With "quite popular" I mean that newspapers from the 1930/40 makes me believe that his concerto and "Walz-Arias" were performed frequently by various trombonists. In contrast, Youtube does not even know his concerto today anymore.
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by harrisonreed » Wed Jan 15, 2020 11:27 pm

Nor IMSLP
bcschipper
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Thu Jan 16, 2020 12:02 am

Doug Elliott wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 5:50 pm
I found a little bit more specific information that may help in a search.

full name: Franz Joseph Serafinè Alshausky, or maybe spelled Josef
Born 12 March 1879 Faulquemont, Lorraine, France
Died 15 January 1948 Los Angeles, CA, USA

Anybody here a member of Ancestry.com?
Finding family members would be very useful.

Slight correction: "Alschausky" (with an "c").

Skrodzki (1979) found his birth certificate. Sometimes the German translation of his birthplace is used, "Falkenberg". (This area was sometimes occupied by Germany.)

The information about his death comes from Normann Schweikert, former 2nd horn of the Chicago Symphony (reported in Weber, 1998). He apparently got it from the American Federation of Musicians Local 47. Jones (2012) refers the journal published by the AFM Local 47, named "Overture" Vol. 27, #11, February 1948, in which apparently his passing was announced.

I plan to ask AFM Local 47 for more information once I have more leads on his life in L.A.. They entertain archival requests but its not cheap. So the more I know (like membership in orchestras, concerts etc.), the more pointed I can ask them.

Josef Alschausky appears in the 1940 US Census as follows:

Age 61
Birthplace Germany
Gender Male
Race White
Home in 1940
2211 1/2 Briar Avenue
Los Angeles, California
Owned home
Value of home $2000
Musician, Orchestra
Income 1939: $1000
Income from other sources than wages: Yes
0 weeks worked
52 weeks unemployed
Unable to work
Not seeking work
Filed paper for obtaining citizenship

A wife is mentioned as well in the 1940 census with age 59, born in Germany, naturalized citizen. This does not match with Jones (2012) who reports that his wife "Ruth" died in LA on November 16, 1963, at the age of 73.

Curiously the census does not mention children. Sources on Alschausky mention a son born in Germany. Alschausky himself mentions children in a letter (reported in Weber, 1998). May be his son left home already or even returned to Germany or never moved to the US. There is an Edward Alschausky in Seattle, age 24, mentioned in the 1940 US Census. This could be his son.
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by HowardW » Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:39 am

bcschipper wrote:
Wed Jan 15, 2020 12:34 pm
Armin Rosin is supposedly to posses a record with old original solo playing by Alschausky himself (Skrodzki, 1979). It would be nice he puts it on Youtube for everyone to listen to.
The book by Rolf Handrow (Berühmte Posaunen-Virtuosen), which you cite above, includes a CD containing two short pieces that Alschausky recorded ca. 1912 with the Blüthner Orchestra: "Italianischer Walzer" and "Gute Nacht, du mein herziges Kind." These are probably from the same record that Armin Rosin has.

Howard
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:11 am

HowardW wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 4:39 am
The book by Rolf Handrow (Berühmte Posaunen-Virtuosen), which you cite above, includes a CD containing two short pieces that Alschausky recorded ca. 1912 with the Blüthner Orchestra: "Italianischer Walzer" and "Gute Nacht, du mein herziges Kind." These are probably from the same record that Armin Rosin has.

Howard
Many thanks for letting me know. I just got a second-hand copy of Handrow without CD. I should get a new one.

Also, my photocopy of Skrodzki (1979) misses the appendix. I wonder whether there is a complete copy somewhere.
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Re: Joseph Serafin Alschausky in the US

Post by bcschipper » Fri Jan 17, 2020 12:34 am

I found a website
with information on Alschausky in the US. Some of the information seem consistent with what is known so far. For other information, the source is unclear and cannot be corroborated yet.

" ... 5.sep.1923 emigrated to the USA New York and the next day 6.sep.1923 applied for American naturalization, 6.dec.1923-1924 he was trombonist in an orchestra in Cincinnati Ohio and residing at 117 Mason Street"

Consistent. Street address new but source unknown.

"1925 as musician residing at 728 Castro Street and 1926 at 80 Beaver Street in San Francisco"

Consistent. Street addresses new but source unknown.

"1930 working for a motion picture studio in Los Angeles"

Source unknown. Would be interesting to know more.

"1930-1942 residing at 2211 Brier Avenue Los Angeles"

Consistent with 1940 US Census.

"27.apr.1935 naturalized American"

Inconsistent with 1940 US Census.

"1940 trombonist in a Los Angeles orchestra"

1940 US Census shows unemployed, unable to work, and not seeking work. Would be interesting to know more.

"7.nov.1911 in Berlin Schoneberg he married Olga Gertrude Meta Kucklick (Strassburg 14.mar.1892-), divorced 1.jul.1918 ; 19.feb.1913 in Leipzig Gautsch he married Ruth Gromm (Germany, Bartenstein 11.apr.1891-) ; son engineer Joseph Edward Alschausky (Germany, Dortmund 7.mar.1916-)"

Age of second wife consistent with 1940 US Census. Information on son consistent with person of same name and age found in 1940 US Census in Seattle. Source unknown.
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