Dennée, Charles


A talented and successful American composer; a concert pianist and teacher, who was born in Oswego, N. Y., and whose skill is due almost entirely to American training: He early showed exceptional talent at playing and composing, and studied chiefly in Boston, his teachers being Stephen A. Emery, who taught him harmony, and Alfred D. Turner, with whom he studied piano. It was the latter's guidance and friendship that made Dennee a musician. He was only sixteen when he went to Boston to study under Turner at the New England Conservatory, and his only instruction, up to that time, had been received from Frank Schilling, in his native town. Dennee also studied for a time under Mme. Schiller and enjoyed special advantages in the study of Beethoven's works, during the last visit of Hans von Bulow to America. He trained himself for a concert pianist and in this capacity made a number of highly successful appearances, playing over one thousand times in various cities in the United States, but an affection of the wrist caused him to give up concert work and he began to compose salon pieces for the piano. In 1885 he wrote a violin sonata which created a marked impression on the musical world. Since 1887 he has dropped his concert tours and has devoted himself exclusively to composing and teaching, giving only occasional recitals and chamber concerts in Boston. At the death of Turner, Mr. Dennee, who was his favorite pupil, succeeded him in the New England Conservatory of Music, and has ever since carried out Turner's ideas and kept to his system. He is a most prolific composer and all of his works show great skill and musicianly feeling.

He has composed several light operas, among them The Merry GoRound, with a libretto by R. A. Barnett, and produced at the Tremont Theatre, Boston, in 1896; The Royal Barber; Captain Nixie; The Fountain of Youth; and The Hindoo. He has composed a large number of songs and piano works of all grades; a suite moderne of much beauty, and works of lighter order. Among Mr. Dennee's most popular songs is the familiar lullaby, Sleep Little Baby of Mine, over one million copies of which have been sold in the last four years. Others that are frequently heard are In Dreamland; Memories; Ritournelle, and So Fair and Pure. His other important works include a March Mignonne; Danse Napolitaine; mazurka; minuet; valses and a descriptive piece, entitled Mountain Scenes. In manuscript is a violin and piano sonata which has been played all over the country. Beside his compositions Mr. Dennee has written a Progressive Technique and Octave Studies.