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Donaldson, Walter (15 February 1893–15 July 1947), popular-song composer, lyricist, and publisher, was born in Brooklyn, New York. The names of his parents are not known. Although his mother was a music teacher, Donaldson seems never to have taken music lessons; instead, he learned to play the piano by ear. While still in high school, he began writing songs, and after graduation he found employment on Wall Street, but he soon gave that up in favor of popular music. For a time he worked as a Tin Pan Alley song plugger at $15 a week; however, his addiction to writing his own songs during working hours cost him his job. His first song to make a public impression was “Just Try to Picture Me Down Home in Tennessee” (1915; lyrics by William Jerome), about a state he had never seen. World War I found him in the Entertainment Division of the U.S. Army, where he met ...

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Engel, Carl (21 July 1883–06 May 1944), composer, editor, and librarian, was born in Paris, France, the son of German parents Joseph C. Engel and Gertrude Seeger. Engel studied music, philosophy, and psychology at the Universities of Strasbourg and Munich. His musical training included individual instruction on the violin and piano and composition with Ludwig Thuille. The Engel family immigrated to the United States in 1905, settling in New York City. Engel quickly affiliated with the city’s young composers and musicians interested in new music and, later, their New Music Society of America, a group dedicated to the performance of American works....

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Marek, George Richard (13 July 1902–07 January 1987), music writer and business executive, was born in Vienna, Austria, the son of Martin Marek, a dentist, and Emily Weisberger. Marek studied at the University of Vienna for two years beginning in 1918, then immigrated to the United States in 1920. He became an American citizen in 1925. The following year he married Muriel Hepner; the couple had one son. Marek’s first job in the United States was with a milliner, first as a stock boy, and later in the ostrich-feather department, but he soon became involved in the advertising field. From 1930 until 1950 he was a vice president with the J. D. Tarcher Agency. In 1950, during his unsuccessful attempt to acquire RCA’s advertising account for Tarcher, Marek was offered a position as manager of artists and repertory in RCA’s Records Division; seven years later he became vice president and general manager of Victor Records....

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Redpath, James (24 August 1833–10 February 1891), journalist and entertainment impresario, was born in Berwick-on-Tweed, Scotland, the son of Ninian Davidson Redpath, a teacher, and Maria Main. After being educated in his father’s academy, Redpath emigrated with his family to the United States in 1849 and soon found work as a reporter for ...

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Root, Frederick Woodman (13 June 1846–08 November 1916), music teacher, author, and editor, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, the son of George Frederick Root, a Civil War songwriter and teacher, and Mary Olive Woodman, a gifted singer. Frederick grew up in musical surroundings and became absorbed in his father’s educational and business pursuits. He studied piano with ...