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Thread: Who was Bickford....

  1. #1
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    I was reading archival material in this Class/Medie/Rennai section of the Cafe because I needed information on positions. #The recommendations were obvious, use a Bickford Mandolin Method. #Well, with a short search for the author, I was surprised to learn more about their origin.
    If I am correct, Ethel Lucretia Olcott (Bickford Revere) wrote this method book.... Or?? was it Zarh Myron Bickford, her husband?
    bio. link #below....
    Olcott Bickford




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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Zarh Myron Bickford, in 4 volumes. IMHO, along with Pettine, the best of the American methods.

    Jim



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    Thanks. It's on order from Djangobooks.com. Between the two of them, it seems that they were a power house of music.

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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Vadah Olcott-Bickford and Zarh (her husband) were two of the foremost players, composers, and teachers of their day. Vadah was a master guitarist; Zarh a mandolinist.. They appeared together often, with Zarh playing a VERRRRRY cool L&H mandocello.

    They lived in Los Angeles and were contemporaries of several famous LA luthiers. They also shared the bill (at least once) with Lloyd Loar. I wonder what Lloyd thought of Zahr's technique.. And vice versa?

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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Pattroglyph @ Sep. 01 2006, 13:38)
    Thanks. It's on order from Djangobooks.com. Between the two of them, it seems that they were a power house of music.
    Bickford volumes 1 & 2 are available in ebook on djangobooks.com

    Jim
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    Registered User Bob DeVellis's Avatar
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    He was named Myron at birth but he and his new wife, Vahdah, (originally named Ethel Lucretia Olcott) developed an interest in astrology/numerology and both changed their names to ones they believed were more numerologically auspicious. Thus, the strange names. Myron was a very successful multi-instrumentalist who began his career on the east coast and then headed to California to join Vahdah.

    Here's a picture of Bickford from Cadenza that Paul Ruppa was generous enough to share with me. You'll notice that Bickford's mandolin in this shot is a Howe-Orme.



    .



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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (bobd @ Sep. 01 2006, 14:44)
    You'll notice that Bickford's mandolin in this shot is a Howe-Orme.
    Ah, Bob, a man with taste, eh?

    Jim



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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    I think we should all adopt new names in mando-solidarity.

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    The Bickfords were groovy. Sorry I missed all this chat. My new astropluck name shall be Xenu.

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    PS: Vahdah, Mrs. Bickford, started life in Ohio near Lake Erie, my stompin' grounds. #Before Segovia's campaign wiped out the memory of non-Torres-style classical guitars, Martin made a line of very fine quality, but almost entirely undecorated, classical guitars, largely for Vahdah's students, the "Bickford" signature series.

    I like the presentation of lessons and exercises in both Bickford methods (Zarh Myron's for mandolin and Vahdah Olcott's for guitar: like Jim says, Zarh Myron's is one of the best and most thorough American mandolin methods), but the musical material contained in both is of a decidedly corny sound.




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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by (delsbrother @ Sep. 01 2006, 13:42)
    Vadah Olcott-Bickford and Zarh (her husband) were two of the foremost players, composers, and teachers of their day.
    Players and teachers, yes, but I would question composers. However, Bickford was probably the first mandolinist to start his own record label. They made several recordings on the Zarvah Art label in the 1920's. These are extremely rare, and though I know of a few in various collections, I don't have any of my own, yet.




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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Ahh, you're right - I was slavishly repeating the motto of the Guild to which they belonged. DOH.

    Can anyone share a picture of Zahr with one of his mandocelli? I know some very nice photos exist that show him with both Gibson and L&H varieties..




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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    This is the only picture of Zahr I have - a microfiched pic from the the LA Times documenting a 1924 radio performance with the Bickford Mandolin Orchestra. I think that may be Vadah in the background, holding Zahr's L&H..



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    Registered User Neil Gladd's Avatar
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    Here is another bad photo. It's a scan of a photocopy, so this is as good as it gets. It's from the cover of The Story of the Strings, a suite for mandocello (or mandolin) and guitar that the Bickfords co-wrote in 1920. It was reproduced in a past issue of Mandolin Quarterly. It's sort of interesting that they wrote it, but the music is pretty corny.
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    ISO TEKNO delsbrother's Avatar
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    Yeah, that's one I was thinking about! I saw that at the Bickford Archive in a BMG Convention program that was from the early 20s. I think there are others in color too, with different instruments.

    Is that the Bickford-special Martin guitar? If so, didn't that predate the Martin/Ditson dreadnaught?

    Also, do any of you Bickfordians have a list of her LA Guitar Society, American Guitar Society, or Bickford Mandolin Orchestra members? None of these were available for viewing at the Archive.




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    Mando-Accumulator Jim Garber's Avatar
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    Vahdah wrote a column called the Guitarist's Roundtable for the Crescendo magazines in the 19-teens. Myron (not Zarh at the time) wrote a column in the competing Cadenza magazines around 1915. He was also listed as heading a music school in New York at that time.

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