Ruth Bingamon Smith's visit to San Francisco during opera season, Nov. 1982. Lunch at the Clift Hotel. Jerry] Neher, Ruth, Bill Knorp, Jarod Clark.
A Tribute to AMICA International
by Ruth Bingaman Smith
Little did I dream, in the early years of the first half of my life, when I made recordings for the Welte-Mignon corporation in New York City that I would be so richly rewarded in the latter days of the second half, by honorary membership in such a prestigious organization as AMICA International, composed of congenial soul brothers and sisters in the realm of music.
This suggests to me that there is a sort of mystic thread that weaves the pattern of our lives. For thisreason, we must never allow a talent, or ability to rust or to be neglected. Had I done this when I was found, how sad it would have been for me, if I were not still playing! I am thankful that, never in the sunshine or the shadows of my life's experiences, have I ever allowed myself or even wanted to neglect my music. It has always helped me to rejoice or to be comforted, as the case would be. Even after retirement from public playing, I have had incentives to share my music, always adding to my repertoire.
Music is the greatest potential on earth for the advancement of fellowship. In every walk of life men form opinions. Some think this, some think that. There have been, throughout history, a constant fluctuation of problems-situations-arguments leading to revolution, wars, hatreds, turmoil-people disagreeing. But behold an audience in any country, when hundreds, even thousands, are listening to a recital, a symphony concert, or an opera. If it be an inspired performance ~as many are in these days of our unfolding perfection) at the conclusion, with one mind, we leap to our feet in a standing ovation - eyes moist with tears, smiling at one another as we applaud, lost to the problems of thee world. We have had, for a few hours, a taste of eternity, of immortality, and our hearts are uplifted. Now we are neither American, Japanese, European, Islamic, or Jew for the nonce. Such divisions are lost in the mutual ecstacy. Great sermons cannot do as much for us.
So, I wish to say "All Hail! AMICA!" You are a part of this spiritual service. Preserving the great works of the piano giants of yesterday, and the wealth of the composers of the past, while you fill our homes with their beautiful music.
And, as for me, my many dear friends, you have certainly added a new dimension to my life - in the incentive to go forward with enthusiasm, for which I thank you, sincerely.
RUTH BINGAMAN-SMITH GIVES
Emmett M. Ford
On July 10, 1987, AMICA Honorary Member, Ruth BingamanSmith was a guest in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Antonioli in Novato, California.
Ruth gave a recital for the Antoniolis, and guests, playing piano compositions on the 9-foot Steinway grand and on the 9-foot Knabe Ampico grand. Compositions Ruth played were "Mailied" from Godard's "Carnival Suite," "Variations" from the opera, "La Molinaral" (PaisielloBeethoven), "Dancer on the Patio" (William Repper) and a Beethoven sonata and some other compositions.
Ampico rolls were played for the enjoyment of Ruth and guests Bill Knorp, Jarod Clark, Bob Williams, Mark Robertson and Ruth's cousin, Nelly Egry. Also heard was a tape of Ruth's playing the Chopin B-minor pianoforte sonata. One Ampico roll (64751) was of interest because it was played by one of Ruth's teachers, John M. Steinfeldt playing his composition, "Chanson D'Amour." Ruth recorded some of Mr. Steinfeldt's compositions for Welte. Two of her other teachers were Alberto Jonas and Ernest Hutchinson, both pianists recorded on piano rolls.
The photograph shows Ruth playing the 9-foot Knabe Ampico grand piano, taken by Bill Knorp.
TRIBUTES TO AMICA HONORARY RUTH BINGAMAN SMITH
from the AMICA March/April 1991
The November/December 1990 edition of theAMICA News Bulletin carried an article decribing the festivities around Ruth's ninety-fourth birthday - we've received a copy of the tribute signed by Dr. Clayton Shorkey, President of the Board of Directors of the Texas Music Museum in Austin, Texas. In the text he states, "We salute you as a Texas Treasure. Since your
debut as a solo pianist with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra in 1906, you have continued to perform and inspire generations of new artists."
The certificate reproduced at the right signed by Texas Governor Ann W. Richards further recognizes the contributions of Ruth Bingaman Smith throughout her continuing musical career.
As ahighlight of the Texas Classics exhibition which runs through May 31, 1991 (see this issue "In Brief,") Ruth was featured in a program on February 23, 1991 in which she performed compositions of John Steinfeldt and her own "Ballet Orientale."
The evening's program also included the presentation of some Welte rolls
recorded during the 1920s by Mrs. Smith and reproduced for the event on a
restored Welte grand piano.
From the AMICA, Jan/Feb 1988 - By Emmett M. Ford
Honorary Member of AMICA, Ruth Bingaman-Smith was born in Columbus, Ohio. Her parents were musical and the family moved to San Antonio, Texas when Ruth was six years of age. Her father was employed in the piano business and played the piano. Her mother sang in the church choir, where later Ruth also sang with her mother.
Ruth's musical ability made itself known at an early age and at age four made her first public appearance when she sang and danced on a program at the Old Soldier's Home in Dayton, Ohio. Piano instruction began at the age of six. Progress was rapid and at the age of ten Ruth played the Beethoven C Major Concerto with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra. She was heralded as a prodigy. During school years concerts were given, and a formal debut as guest soloist with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra, was held.
Ruth then went to New York for advanced studies with Ernest Hutcheson, Dean of Julliard and later with Albert Jona's for four years. Jona's had come to America due to W.W.I. She later enrolled in Yale University for courses in theory, composition, music history, and piano study with Bruce Simonds, Dean of Yale University Music School.
After a New York recital, two engagements were arranged as accompanist, and assistant soloist, with two Metropolitian Opera Stars, along with a tour of the Keith-Orpheum circuit in the East and New York City.
A contract was awarded to Ruth to make Welte-Mignon piano rolls in their New York recording studio. A tour began (1920/1921) with comparison recitals of her playing and the take-over by the grand piano with the Welte-Mingon roll. The comparison recitals were held in piano stores in Brooklyn, New York City, Boston, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Virginia and Philadelphia.
Ruth began a series of programs playing classics on a daily schedule in the music room on the mezzanine of the Brooklyn Paramount Theatre in New York. Over one-hundred individuals had applied for this position, but Ruth's large repertoire won the job for her.
Summer engagements begin with appearances at The Inn at Buck Hill Falls in the Poconos, the Chamberlin-Vanderbilt in Virginia, and Hotel Del Monte in California playing programs for the guests. She began a radio program, "Music and Meditation", which was broadcast weekly from stations in San Antonio, Texas and Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Guest appearances were arranged with the San Antonio Symphony Orchestra conducted by the late Dr. Max Reiter, and with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra of Charleston, WV., with conductor Antonio Modarelli playing the Saint-Saens' Concerto in G minor. One composition, Tchaikovski's "Fantaisie" was seldom heard, but became known to the public from Ruth's performance of the composition.
A tour with Robert Weede, Met Opera baritone, was made and a joint recital in New York at the Waldorf Hotel with the violinist, Helen DeWitt.
Accepting Honorary Membership in AMICA at the 1970 San Francisco Convention, she has attended fifteen conventions, meeting members, and other Honoraries of AMICA, and playing a recital at each convention. She has never repeated a composition due to her extensive repertoire.
At the time she was making Welte-Mignon piano rolls (various recording sessions) she was listed in the catalog as Ruth Bingaman. She married a graduate of West Point, who was an army officer, later killed in the Battle of the Bulge in 1944. Four years later, she married again, but divorced in 1958, moving to San Antonio to make her home.
Ruth has been recognized as a "Texas Composer of Music" and won a State of Texas Composer Prize for a cello-piano composition, "Poem Heroique." The composition was dedicated to the late 'cellist, Frederick Preston Search.
Ruth enjoys life, keeping her piano technique by daily playing, writing poems (2 volumes in print) and painting. Good health, happiness, friends, and the pleasure of attending AMICA Conventions to visit members, and playing recitals, are important items in her life.
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