Today is the birthday of pianist and composer Erno Rapee (1891-1945). Born and trained in Hungary, he began his career as a conductor there and in Germany. He toured America first as a conductor, then in 1914 played vaudeville with a selection of classical and patriotic songs. He secured a position as assistant to Hugo Reisenfeld at the Rialto Theatre, one of New York’s great movie palace/ presentation houses, where he began conducting and scoring silent films. This led to several positions working for Roxy Rothafel at several theatres in succession (The Capitol, The Roxy, and Radio City Music Hall) where he composed and conducted full silent movie scores for full orchestras; the music was also broadcast over radio. Rapee was still working at Radio City Music Hall at the time of his death in 1945.
To find out about the history of vaudeville, and performers like Erno Rapee, consult No Applause, Just Throw Money: The Book That Made Vaudeville Famous, available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and wherever nutty books are sold.