Joel has kindly sent me a PDF scan of his recent purchase, a nice copy of the 1923 "Van Eps Banjo Solos in C Notation"

You will notice that the cover states that the solos have:

"Carefully arranged and Fingered by the eminent Banjoist"

As Joel commented in his email:

"Playing the pieces exactly as written with all the right and left hand fingerings is odd at first but they really are perfect with no wasted movement."

I have always liked Van Eps' playing for this very reason. I was taught to play making  "economical" use of the RH by careful alternate fingering but Van Eps took this to an other level.

I have been working on a couple of previously un-transcribed Van Eps recordings, if you would like me to produce the notated score for download a few videos showing how to play one of the pieces please let me know.

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After all this talk about Fred Van Eps here is a post to encourage us all. All we have to do is practise 8 hours a day for the rest of our lives and we will still never be as good as Van Eps ;-(

This is a rare recording made in 1959 of Fred Van Eps, still developing his style and practising his speed at the age of 80 years... "but next summer I will be able to play it!"    Fred died in 1960.

Rossini's William Tell Overture  played with 80 year old fingers !!

The Amazing Fred Van Eps playing live in 1959

Dear Joel (and Ian, and all)

Of course, here you go — I’d upload it to a more specific permanent place on the site though I don’t think there’s a spot for archival pdf articles other than for photographs. Perhaps Ian would like to add it to the site, or advise me how to do so, if it’s deemed keepable? Up to you all.

Apologies for the horrible muddied-up halftones and photos — these scans are from terrible xeroxes I made almost 20 years ago at the Chicago Public Library. At least the information is there, though one of the pages has a slight crop in the lower left corner … still readable, though. Much interesting information to be had in this, however.

And what a great recording; thanks for posting it, Ian — and thanks again for maintaining this wonderful site.

Warmest of wishes,

C. Ware.

Attachments:

Ian ; ............ i remember an interview of the flutist James Galway ; was 16 hours a day  at a point of his life.......................

Chris kindly sent a downloadable PDF of the lengthy, serialised, article about Van Eps which appeared in the 1956 editions of the "Hobbies" magazine. 

Thanks to Chris's suggestion .I hope to soon get working on an "Archive" of interesting articles, but it may take a while, so until I have the section ready, here is the January 1956 article:

((Click the picture to makebiggerify)  :-)

Further editions to follow.

I once saw a bank cheque (check) made out to Gershwin, by Van Eps, presumably for services rendered, it was owned by a rather reclusive English banjo collector whom I believe has since sold it.

F. Chris Ware said:

In the fourth part of Jim Walsh’s interview with Fred Van Eps from the April 1956 Hobbies magazine Van Eps indeed lists George Gershwin as an accompanist:

“Which reminds me that this would be a good time to list the accompanists I have had, in the order in which they played for me: William E. Mac Clymont, Frank P. Banta, Charles L. Van Baar, Belle Harty, Charles A. Prince, Felix Arndt, George Gershwin, Frank E. Banta and Robert Van Eps.”

I’m almost sure I’ve read this particular surprise fact somewhere else as well, with Van Eps citing Gershwin as Banta jrs’s or Arndt’s “fill in,” but I can’t for the life of me at the moment remember where. I believe in that same note it’s confirmed that Gershwin did not ever record with Van Eps, however, though who knows.

Joel, in keeping with this topic, does your copy have the piano parts? If not, and you’d like them, I can scan and post a pdf from a copy I’ve got, which could be added to the tutor library. (And just to add to the plaudits, I’ve really enjoyed all your videos and playing as well, especially your Horace Weston renditions.)

By sheer coincidence, and before all this talk about Gershwin accompanying Van Eps, George has been helping me practise one of my current pieces.

I decided to transcribe George Gershwin's composition "Swanee" and have been using The Amazing Slow Downer software to slow down the Van Eps recording and produce a notated transcription. I have not completed it yet, but thought for a bit of fun that I would record a short snatch of the tune, with George Gershwin as MY accompanist! 

Richard, do you know where I send the cheque for him????

GEORGE GERSHWIN PLAYS HIS OWN COMPOSITION

I will post a full video when I have completed the notated banjo and piano accomp. of the score. This time Mrsthereallyniceman will be on piano as she is much better than Gershwin :-)

Unfortunately my recording ends abruptly as George suddenly gives up as he normally plays a different variation to that played by Van Eps, so we were both stumped :-)

Forgive the audio clipping, bum notes and lack of practice... but soon, very soon.......

THEREALLYNICEMAN accompanied by George Gershwin play SWANEE

Delightful playing Ian. You are so fortunate (and clever), having George Gershwin as your accompanist.

Perhaps after this one wraps you will consider tackling Rossini's other great piece, which Van Eps never got around to.  Originally written for minstrel banjo and titled Barbara Seville. ;-)

Avidly reading the interview and attempting the solos. Will check in when I get done memorizing the article.

Hey Shawn,

Thanks for the sympathy vote... a little more practice and then I "WILL BE" VAN EPS!!!!

ps That Barbara Saville you mention.. was she the woman that worked at the "Rossini Diner" that got destroyed in the great storm?



Shawn McSweeny said:

Delightful playing Ian. You are so fortunate (and clever), having George Gershwin as your accompanist.

Perhaps after this one wraps you will consider tackling Rossini's other great piece, which Van Eps never got around to.  Originally written for minstrel banjo and titled Barbara Seville. ;-)

The Reallyniceman wrote :

ps That Barbara Saville you mention.. was she the woman that worked at the "Rossini Diner" that got destroyed in the great storm?

Indeed so.  The place was run by Otello and Armida Rossini. Their Thieving Mag Pie dessert plate was a local favorite. Sadly the diner was crushed by a giant, storm-driven toupee.

Continuing with the "Hobbies" Magazine Fred Van Eps instalments, here is the February 1956 edition:

(Click to enlarge)

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