HoL Classic: Complaint to the Editors of Harper’s Weekly, 1915

You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy

Dear Sirs:

Why must we continue to be subject to the so-called musical stylings of this collection of vagabonds and layabouts known as “Tin Pan Alley.” Call me old-fashioned, but when did we stop listening to music of value? Why, what would old Mr. Bach think of this piano-hammering, trumpet-blaring boneheadedness?

I remember a time when music was good. We listened to opera! Wagner! Beethoven! Mozart! Nowadays, the kids go gaga over some three-penny farce by some big-city fancy-dan like Irving Berlin. I don’t allow my children to play that rubbish in my house, but I can’t protect them everywhere. They’re going to hear this rubbish at soda fountains and ballparks and they’ll never learn to appreciate real music. It’s disgraceful.

Now, I’m no racialist, but it’s dangerous to supplant good, honest music by good, honest Europeans with this Tin-Pan Folly. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but a lot of these so-called composers don’t represent our values. So why are we letting our children be exposed to all this frankly Jewish claptrap? Before you know it, they’ll all be dancing the hora and eating matzo. It’s up to us as good and decent Americans (with taste) to protect society from this garbage. Otherwise, we’ll raise a generation of idiots, tapping their feet to any noise so long as it’s played by an ethnic.

Yours most sincerely,

Dr. Rodney Pigsmorton-Figgis


Rodney Pigsmorton-Figgis considered himself a man of letters in that he wrote letters to all of the leading publications of the early 20th century to complain. Many of these letters have been brought together in a six-volume collection titled The Collected Letters of Pigsmorton-Figgis: What Is This Some Kind Of Jew Music? Other things Pigsmorton-Figgis complained about were the death of the impractically long skirt, the end of the victrola and the rise of the “hot dog,” which he suggested was a plot of the Kaiser or the kaiser roll industry.

After an oppressive childhood, Pigsmorton-Figgis’s children Benedict Pigsmorton-Figgis and Delilah Pigsmorton-Figgis-Ramirez rebelled against their restrictive father, becoming leaders in the Taking In The Night Air movement of the 1920s and 30s.

A time traveler going from 1985 to 1731 discovered that Mr. Bach quite enjoyed this “boneheadedness” and in fact it was the inspiration for his most original, greatest pieces, now lost to history, “German Sweetheart” and “I Ain’t Baroque (Don’t Fix Me).”


1 Comment

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One response to “HoL Classic: Complaint to the Editors of Harper’s Weekly, 1915

  1. Grazie per il vostro articolo, mi sembra molto utile, proverò senz’altro a sperimentare quanto avete indicato… c’è solo una cosa di cui vorrei parlare più approfonditamente, ho scritto una mail al vostro indirizzo al riguardo.

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