Harding, Walter N(ewton) H(enry)
- Jean Geil
(b London, England, ?1883; d Chicago, IL, 12 or Dec 13, 1973). American pianist and music collector of English birth. Having immigrated to the United States with his parents when he was about four years of age, he spent the remainder of his life in Chicago as a ragtime and vaudeville pianist and an organist in churches and theaters. Around the turn of the century he began to amass one of the largest private music collections in the United States, laying particular emphasis on opera and on English and American song imprints. Few scholars were granted access to the collection during Harding’s lifetime, and on his death the entire collection was transferred to the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. Harding’s American music holdings consisted largely of 60,000 to 70,000 items of sheet music, with particular strengths in the areas of ragtime, comic opera, minstrel-show music, war songs, and Chicago imprints....