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Thomas S Allen

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Thomas S. Allen


Thomas S. Allen (16 December 1876, Natick, Mass. - 23 October 1919, Boston, Mass.) was an excellent violinist, an impresario, and a composer of music which reflected his life as a professional musician in the world of entertainment. In addition to writing a number of instrumental pieces, including marches and waltzes, he was the first to produce the popular vocal tunes known as "street hawker songs."

Thomas "Tommy" S. Allen was one of several brothers, all of whom were musicians He became a thorough technician while studying with the noted violinist Charles M. Loeffler and made his playing debut with the Knowlton and Allen Dance Orchestra of Natick, Massachusetts, at the age of 20. The orchestra featured the Allen brothers, including Thomas as a "trick" violinist. In 1898 he moved to Boston to play in the Grand Opera House Orchestra, and during the 1902-1903 season he played with the Old Hub Theatre Orchestra. After touring for a time as music director of the Hastings Burlesque Show, he returned to Boston and resumed his playing career with various orchestras, When he died at the age of 43, he was mourned as an outstanding composer and a warm personal friend by all who knew him.

Allen wrote a considerable amount of music for a variety of dances, acrobatic feats, and short dramatic sketches. In the Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music, he is credited with 59 works, including 25 marches, five galops, and 29 vocal or instrumental works which typified the music of the early 20th century. Although such tunes as Any Rags, By the Watermelon Vine and Big Chief Battle-Axe are almost forgotten, Sandy River Rag, galops like The Majestic, The Plunger, 'Round the Ring, Blue Streak, Saddle Back, and Whip and Spur are still heard at rodeos, circuses, and community band concerts. Gen. Mixup, U.S.A. and Blue Streak Galop are also performed and recorded by Windjammers Unlimited conference bands. The Heritage of the March collection includes the following Allen marches, recorded by Jack White and the Northeast Louisiana University Band: Battle Royal, Caberet Capers, Horse Marines, Majestic, Marconigram, Naval Parade, Saddle Back Galop Whip and Spur Galop, and U.S.S. Rhode Island.

Works for Winds