John Stromberg

John (Alexander) Stromberg (b Stramberg). Composer, pianist, conductor, b Milton, P.E.I., 9 Nov 1858, d Freeport, Long Island, New York, 5 Jul 1902. John Stramberg was raised in Milton and River John, P.E.I. His father, Nathaniel Philip Stramberg (b River John, N.S.

John Stromberg

John (Alexander) Stromberg (b Stramberg). Composer, pianist, conductor, b Milton, P.E.I., 9 Nov 1858, d Freeport, Long Island, New York, 5 Jul 1902. John Stramberg was raised in Milton and River John, P.E.I. His father, Nathaniel Philip Stramberg (b River John, N.S., 20 Jun 1835, d December 1912), arranged band and orchestral music and was associated with Galbraith's Band. The younger Stramberg studied music with his father and a Professor Earle in Charlottetown. He directed the River John Brass Band, then in 1878 moved to Nova Scotia, where he directed the Pictou Choral Society and the Pictou Concert Band.

John Stramberg joined a troupe of travelling musicians as pianist and moved to New York, where he began to spell his name "Stromberg." There he became an arranger for the music publisher Witmark, and in 1895 wrote the hit song "My Best Girl's a Corker." The following year Stromberg was hired by the comedy team Weber and Fields (Joe Weber and Lew Fields) to compose and conduct their burlesques (satires) and variety shows at their new Weber and Fields Music Hall. In this position Stromberg achieved success and celebrity status, and toured with the company in the U.S. Their productions (lyrics often by Edgar Smith) had such titles as The Art of Maryland (1896-7); Hurly-Burly (1898); Helter-Skelter (1899); Whirl-i-gig (1899-1900); Fiddle-Dee-Dee (1900-1); and Hoity-Toity (1901-2). With his employers, he formed Weber, Fields and Stromberg Music Publishers. A painful chronic medical condition led him to commit suicide. At the time of his death, Stromberg had completed "Come Down, Ma Evenin' Star" for Lillian Russell, and was composing the music for Twirly-Whirly.

Stromberg's shows contained several songs that became popular. "Kiss Me Honey, Do" went No. 1 in 1899 as recorded by Arthur Collins. Albert Campbell and S.H. Dudley both had hits with "Ma Blushin' Rosie" in 1901, but the song is most identified with Al Jolson. Henry Burr and Mina Hickman each had a hit in 1903 with "Come Down, Ma Evenin' Star." Several Stromberg songs were released in Canada on the Berliner label. He was named to the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.

See also: Musical Theatre; Songwriters and Songwriting (English Canada) Before 1921


Further Reading

  • Bordman, Gerald. American Musical Theatre: A Chronicle (New York 1978)

    The Evening Call, Woonsocket, Rhode Island, 9 Jul 1902

    New York Times, 9 Jul 1902, 7 Sep 1902