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date: 13 December 2019

Hunter, Charleslocked

  • Trebor Jay Tichenor

Extract

(b Columbia, TN, May 16, 1876; d St Louis, Jan 23, 1906). American ragtime composer. He was born almost totally blind, and learnt piano tuning at a school for the blind. He later worked as a tuner for the Jesse French Piano Co., and taught himself to play and compose ragtime. In 1902 the company transferred him to St Louis, where he played in various bordellos in Chestnut Valley and contracted the dissipated habits which, despite belated attempts to reform, hastened his early death from tuberculosis.

Hunter was a pioneer among white ragtime composers. His rags are syncopated country marches with a distinctive folk flair that seem to celebrate rural life, though tempered with the same touch of melancholy that characterizes country band breakdowns and fiddle tunes. Within the traditional march form he delightfully combined the more complex syncopations of sophisticated piano rags with the simpler rhythms of the cakewalk. Like most folk ragtime composers and performers who begin playing by ear, he had a predilection for the flat keys, especially A♭. His most popular rag, ...

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The New Grove Dictionary of American Music