Item #8725 This Ticket and 15 Cents Will admit any Pupil of School Child to the Blind Boone Concert.

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This Ticket and 15 Cents Will admit any Pupil of School Child to the Blind Boone Concert.

N.p., ca. 1880s. Illustrated ticket, 4.75” x 2.5”. CONDITION: Very good, light soiling to recto, faint adhesive residue to corners on verso.

A striking, illustrated ticket for an early performance by John William “Blind” Boone, a musical prodigy and prolific performer whose compositions were influential predecessors to ragtime.

John William Boone (1864–1927) was born in a federal militia camp near Miami, Missouri to a contraband slave named Rachel (who may have been owned by descendents of Daniel Boone), and the bugler of the first company of the 7th Missouri State Militia. At six months, Boone fell ill with “brain fever” (cerebral meningitis), and, to relieve pressure on his brain, surgeons removed his eyes. Boone’s mother was determined he should have an education, but after being expelled from the Missouri School of the Blind for running away to listen to piano music at local barrooms, Boone returned home. There, he was eventually “discovered” by John B. Lange, Jr., “a prominent middle-class African-American” who would become “Boone’s first and most effective manager” (Swindell, p. 115). Lange sent Boone to Iowa, where he underwent two months of intensive piano instruction, and only after this did the Blind Boone Concert Company—comprising Boone and a vocalist—begin to take off. Boone married Lange’s daughter, Eugenia, in 1889, and by 1900 his was one of the most popular acts in the country, playing some 300 concerts annually. In 1912 he became the first Black artist recorded by the QRS piano roll company, though his most famous piece, “The Marshfield Tornado,” was so complex that it was never recorded or transcribed. According to one scholar, “Between January 18, 1880, the date of his first concert, and 1913…Boone had given 7,200 concerts, traveled 144,000 miles…had slept in approximately 7,000 beds, paid almost $180,000 to charities, churches, halls, opera houses, and had repeated, after one hearing, the performances of 33,600 pianists who had come on stage to challenge him” (p. 113). Due to inadequate management following Lange’s death in 1916, however, Boone’s fortune waned, and he died in poverty and obscurity in his hometown of Warrensburg, Missouri.

This ticket, bearing a portrait in profile of the young Boone, admitted “any Pupil or School Child” to his concert, and advises: “Parents who are giving their children musical instructions, or intend to, should not fail to send them to hear this remarkable Pianist, as it will encourage and stimulate them to become fine performers.”

REFERENCES: Swindell, Warren C. “John William ‘Blind’ Boone’s Chicago Itinerary,” Black Music Research Journal, Vol. 12, No. 1 (1992).

Item #8725

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