The Piano-Roll Transcriptions of Richard Stibbons

Richard Stibbons of Cromer, Norfolk, England has built a machine to read piano-rolls and convert them to MIDI sequences.  He has been quite successful transcribing the "reproducing" piano rolls which contain the dynamics of the original piano performance.  I am pleased that Richard has agreed to share some of these MIDI sequences with visitors to the Ragtime MIDI Library.  They are beautiful examples of the popular music of the 1920's and 30's.  Many of the songs of that era were not available on anything but piano rolls.  Richard's project is important in that it will preserve this rare music in a form that is playable on contemporary MIDI equipment.
If you are interested in learning more about his project, please contact Richard at

The MIDI sequences available on this page are all © 1998 by Richard Stibbons and may
NOT be used for any commercial use whatsoever without his permission.

The Music:

  • Blue Grass Played by Pauline Alpert
  • Eskimo Shivers Composed and Played by Billy Mayerl
  • Scherzo Waltz Played by McNair Ilgenfritz
  • Snakes Hips by Spencer Williams, played by Clarence M Jones
  • Keep Your Sunny Side Up Played by Pauline Alpert
  • Wildflower Played by J Milton Delcamp
  • Blue Grass - played by Pauline Alpert GET MIDILISTEN
    This is a Duo-Art roll recorded by one of the star pianists of the day. Pauline Alpert was noted for her speed and technical ingenuity. According to Fred Allen she was "The young Lady who sounds like Two Pianos." At one time she was also "The Flying Pianist" This name came about as a result of a Vaudeville show in which she and her piano floated above the dancers on stage, illuminated by UV light. The act was dropped after a rope broke!
    Eskimo Shivers - composed and played by Billy Mayerl GET MIDILISTEN
    This Duo-Art roll was the only one Mayerl ever recorded although he did cut several for the standard non-expression 88 note system. "Lightning Fingers" Mayerl was born in London in 1902 and gave his first concert playing the Grieg Concerto at age 12. He was almost expelled from the Trinity College music school when, aged 13, he was caught by the Principal playing a syncopated jazz number of his own composition. He abandoned serious musical education in 1917, ironically the year Scott Joplin died. Many see him as the harbinger of the new era. His huge output of syncopated novelty music and a very active band-leading career kept him at the top of his profession until his untimely death in 1959.
    Scherzo Waltz - Composed and played by McNair Ilgenfritz GET MIDILISTEN
    An example of a style and musical type which has all but disappeared today (deservedly, many say !). The excessive posturing and affectation leave Liberace in the shade. This is an amusing piece, enjoyable enough in the right setting. Ilgenfritz, who was a student of Moszkowski, recorded extensively for all the major systems.
    Snakes Hips - Composed by Spencer Williams GET MIDILISTEN
    This is a transcription Recordo roll number M-67850 recorded by Clarence M Jones in 1923. The Recordo system was adopted as a `public domain' expression mechanism by several independent piano makers. The expression control does not compare with that of the leading makes of reproducing systems such as Ampico and Duo-Art and very few pianists of repute recorded for it. None-the-less many of the rolls are worth an airing, particularly in the dance and salon music categories.
    Keep your Sunny Side Up - Played by Pauline Alpert GET MIDILISTEN 
    Pauline Alpert recorded some 90 Duo-Art rolls of which this is a good example. It is said that her exuberance was moderated by the company because she was capable of playing so many notes so fast that the paper usage got out of control. Miss Alpert was widely popular throughout the 20's to 50's and still playing the the 1970's. She played so fast that it was not unkown for her fingers to bleed.
    Wildflower - Played by J Milton Delcamp GET MIDILISTEN
    The Ampico reproducing system is widely regarded as the highest achievement of the reproducing piano industry. J Milton Delcamp was a mainstay pianist of the company. An orchestra leader at 15, he became well known for the distinctive charm and elegance of his interpretations. He recorded many piano rolls, largely in the salon and novelty categories.

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    DISCLAIMER: Please note this is a FREE MIDI musical site. All the songs contained in this site are either in the public domain or the composer and/or publisher has given permission for use. The music and information on this website are intended only for the enjoyment of those who care to listen to it. If there is any infringement on anyone's rights, or any material on my site that the author objects to its use here, I will remove same on being notified.

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