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date: 13 November 2019


  • Robert B. Winans


Family of banjo performers, teachers, and makers. The five Dobson brothers, Henry C. (1832–1908), Frank (Franklin) P. (1838–?), Charles E. (or C. Edgar) (1839–1910), George C. (1842–1890?), and Edward C. (1858–1919), were based in New York, except for George, who moved to Boston in 1869. They were stage performers, renowned teachers, authors of banjo instruction books, holders of banjo patents, and banjo makers. They made significant contributions to the physical development of the banjo and to its popularization as an instrument for all classes. As performers, the brothers, especially Charles, drew accolades. Henry and Charles became well-known as teachers by the late 1850s, and they and their brothers focused on teaching celebrities and socialites, especially women, helping raise the banjo to a “fashionable notoriety,” according to one commentator in 1866. Henry, Edward, and, especially, George all published banjo instruction books; George had published at least seven banjo methods by ...

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