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Inventory of the Herman Perlet papers, 1881-1914
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Herman Perlet's Delightful Studio
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Herman Perlet Papers
    Date (inclusive): 1881-1914
    Collection number: ARCHIVES PERLET 1
    Creator: Perlet, Herman, 1862-1916
    Extent: Number of containers: 10 boxes (151 items)
    Repository: The Music Library
    Berkeley, California 94720-6000
    Shelf location: For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Mrs. Mildred B. Perlet Carey, daughter of Herman and Belle Perlet, and Mrs. Carey's son, Professor Grant S. Carey, both of Sacramento, California. Presented to the Music Library August 21, 1978.


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Music Library.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Herman Perlet papers, ARCHIVES PERLET 1, The Music Library, University of California, Berkeley.


    Jan 24, 1862 Perlet born, probably in Erie, PA
    1881 "Come Unto Me and I Will Refresh You" (song) published
    1891 "I Love Him" (song) published
    1892-1893 Music director/conductor for various opera companies
    1893 "The Beggar Maid" (song) published
    1893 "My Little Star" (Song) published
    1894 Two orchestral suites performed in Leipzig, produced by Hartmann
    1894 "I Doubt It" (song) published
    1894 "I Wonder" (song) published
    1894 "Thou Hast a Heart, I Know!" (song) published
    1894-1895 The Dragoon's Daughter produced
    Oct 8,1894 Fiorella, a tragic opera in four acts, compiled in New York
    1895 A Stag Party, or A Hero in Spite of Himself produced
    1895 "Darling, I Love You!" (song) published
    1895 "I Sat at my Latticed Window" (song) published
    1895 "Love, Sweet Love" (song) published
    1895 Vocal Gems from The Dragoon's Daughter (piano-vocal selections) published
    1896 Perlet marries Belle Thorne (b. 1871)
    1896? Miss Philadelphia produced
    1896 "The Old Dream" (song) published
    1896 "When Baby Boy's Ship Comes In" (song) published
    1897 First Mass, Opus 5 published
    Mar 1897 The Isle of Gold, or The Star Spangled Dollar produced
    1897 "If Only in Thy Heart I Dwell" (song) published
    1897 "It Needs But That" (song) published
    1897 "Susie Smith from Troy" (song from The Isle of Gold) published
    1900 Mam'selle 'Awkins produced
    1900 "The Brave Days of Old" (song) published
    1900 "You'll Never Know" (song) published
    1900 Ma Petite, Opus 6 No.1 for piano published

    Abendlied, Opus6 No. 2 for piano published

    Valse Fantaisie, Opus 6 No. 3 for piano published
    1901 In Crakow for piano published
    1901 Moonlight in Venice for piano published
    Mar 1902 Specialty Dances A Dream of the Dance Produced
    Apr 1902 When Reuben Comes to Town produced
    Mar 1905 The Little Devil's Half completed in New York
    Sep 1906 Those Primrose Girls produced (copyright date 1903)
    1906 The Maiden's Lament for contralto solo and chorus published
    Oct-Nov 1906 Painting the Town produced
    1907 The Festive Evening, a chorus for male voices published
    (early) 1908 Perlet moves to Oakland, California
    1908 "If King Were Clown and Clown Were King" (song) published (copyright 1897)
    1909 Mine is a Song and Two Kisses (arrangements by Perlet) published
    1909 The Three Graces: Suite for Piano published. Includes Dorothy, Julia and Mildred
    Oct 1909 The Singing Bandits produced
    Dec 1909 Christmas Jinks for the Bohemian Club, San Francisco written
    1910 "Sing a Song of Gladness" (chorus for women's voices) published
    1910 "Sing a Song of Gladness" (song) published
    1910 "Ave Maria" (song) published
    1910 "I Ask Not" (song) published
    Apr 15, 1910 Serenade for String Orchestra, Opus 9 completed
    Jun 20, 1910 Mt. Tamalpais, Symphonic Tone Picture for Grand Orchestra, completed in San Francisco
    Nov 1910 Perlet conducts the Seattle Symphony
    1911 "Whispers" for piano published
    1911 Valse-Fantasie, Opus 15 No. 1 for piano published

    Ballade, Opus 15 No. 2 for piano published

    Dance Grace, Opus 15 No. 3 for piano published

    Staccato Etude, Opus 15 No. 4 for piano published
    Apr 18, 1911 Quintette, Opus 13 completed in San Francisco
    Jul 1911 Music Teachers' Association of California State Convention--Perlet speaks on chamber music and his Quintette premiered
    Sep 20, 1911 Trio in F, Opus 16a completed in San Francisco
    Nov 19, 1911 The Maiden's Lament (contralto solo) completed in San Francisco
    May 1912 Perlet conducts concert to benefit the widows and children of the bandsmen on theTitanic
    Aug 1912 Allein, Reverie for Orchestra completed in San Francisco
    Nov 1912 Preliminary concert of the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Recreation League,conducted and organized by Perlet
    1913 "A Question: Is Love a Dream?" (song) published
    Apr 1913 First Official concert of the People's Philharmonic Orchestra (originally the recreationLeague Orchestra), conducted by Perlet
    Aug 1913 The Fall of Ug, Eleventh Grove Play of the Bohemian Club, presented
    Oct 18, 1913 "Autumn" (song) completed in San Francisco
    Dec 24, 1913 Quartette, Opus 20, completed in San Francisco
    May 1914 People's Philharmonic Orchestra beings its second season of concerts
    Sep 1914 Perlet discusses his new "Third" Sympony
    Jan7, 1916 Perlet dies of heart failure in Oakland, California at age 54


    Herman Perlet was born on January 24, 1862, in Erie, Pennysylvania. His parents were James P. Perlet, who worked for the Treasury Department for forty years, and Lydia A. Baker Perlet. He had two brothers, Frank L. Perley, a theather manager and producer, and Morrison W. Perley.
    A newspaper article contained in one of the scrapbooks describes the evolution of the name "Perlet," probably because of prominence of Herman and Frank, and because each of the two brothers spelled the name differently. Evidently the family, of French-Huguenot descent, originally wrote the name Per Let. One member of the family used Per Lee. When the family came to the United States, they spelled it Perley to make it American. But when Herman decide to go into the theater, as a courtesy to his parents who were scandalized, he dissassociated himself from them through the form Perlet. When Frank took up the theater as a career, the parents must have adjusted to the horror of the idea, for he kept the name Perley.
    Herman's start in music was evidently at an early age, though sources conflict as to his teachers and his progress. He is variously listed as studying with Conrad Kremb, a pupil and intimate friend of Moscheles, or with an unnamed friend and fellow student of Mendelssohn, or with Ambroise Thomas.
    It is agreed that Perlet's profesional start was as a concert pianist. One newspaper clipping from a scrapbook states Under the tutelage of Thomas, young Perlet became a concert pianist at the age of 16 years, appearing at the Capitals of Europe and the principal cities of the United States.
    Up to this time, the primary area of Perlet's theatrical activity was the northeastern seaboard. In early 1908, however, his doctor suggested that for health reasons he move to the West Coast, and Perlet and his wife Belle Thorne (1871-1937), a famous prima donna whom he had married in 1896, settled in Oakland. One daughter, Mildred, had been born to them. In California, Perlet's musical activity did not slacken. The Singing Bandits, a romanitic operatic comedy, was produced in October 1909, but then Perlet's attention turned to other genres. He continued to publish songs, but also showed more interest in orchestral and chamber music.
    An area of personal enthusiasm for Perlet was the Bohemian Club of San Francisco. In 1909 he wrote the Christmas Jinks for that club, and in 1913, he wrote the music for their annual summer Grove Play. The allegorical Grove Play was the highlight of the summer High Jinks, and was held in a desolate redwood grove in Sonoma visited by the club only once a year. The main idea of the High Jinks of the Bohemian Club is that year by year the grim specter of care shall be driven away by this holiday gathering of men of the world... Perlet's contribution to the Eleventh Grove Play, 1913, was the music to T he Fall of Ug, a highly acclaimed success.
    In addition to his comopositional talents, Perlet contributed to the cutltural development of the Bay area as a conductor. He directed the Oratorio Society of San Rafael, the San Rafael Choral Society, and the Columbia Boys' Park Band. In November 1912 he founded the Philharmonic Orchestra of the Recreation League, with the purpose of providing low-cost concerts for the general public. This orchestra turned into the People's Philharmonic Orchestra, which played a full season in 1913 and in 1914. A People's Philharmonic Choral Society was also formed by Perlet. Several sources say that it was Sir Arthur Sullivan who persuaded Perlet to give up the piano for a conducting career.
    Perlet succeeded Alfred Cellier as the conductor in America of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Company, and at varoius times conducted most of the major opera companies in the United States: the Strakosch English Opera Company, the Duff Comic Opera, McCaul, Agnes Huntington, Whitney, Lillian Russell, Robin Hood and others.
    Even in the early stages of his career, Perlet compsed songs, several of which attained great popularity. Two orchestral suites of his were produced by Hartmann in Leipzig in 1894, and about the same time he began composing in earnest for the stage.
    While the extent of his collaborative effort in earlier productions has yet ot be ascertained, his first independent work to be produced probably was The Dragoon's Daughter, a comic opera in three acts presented in 1894-95. Other stage works by Perlet produced during the ensuing years included A Sta g Party (1895), Miss Philadelphia (1896?), The Isle of Gold (1897), Mam'selle 'Awkins (1900), When Reuben Comes to Town (1902), Those Primrose Girls (1906) and Painting the Town (1906). There are other theatrical works in the collection for which no composition or performance dates are known.
    Perlet died very unexpectedly on January 7, 1916 at the age of fifty-three from heart failure, at the home of his sister-in-law on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. A concert in his memory was held in March 1916 to benefit his widow and daughter. His "immense library of music" soon afterwards was placed on the market by his widow.
    The Perlet Collection was a gift to the Music Library from the composer's daughter, Mrs. Mildred B. Perlet Carey of Sacramento, and her son, Grant S. Carey. The presentation was made in three stages. In mid-August 1978, Mrs. Carey made a gift of the manuscripts and published works of her father. Three scrapbooks were also loaned to the Library for microfilimning, and were returned to Mrs. Carey in January 1979. That microfilm is availbale, however, the scrapbooks themselves were donated to the Library in August of 1979. Finally, in February 1981 further additions were made to the Perlet Collection, consisting primarily of such other documentary items as photographs, another scrapbook, mounted clippings, programs, and some librettos and scores.
    Later, on Wedensday, May 19, 1982, Mildred and Grant Carey presented the Music Library with a collection of photographs of Belle Thorne.

    Herman Perlet's Delightful Studio

    Some time ago Herman Perlet, the distinguished teacher of singing and orchestral director, moved his studio from Franklin Dtreet to within two doors on the other side of Sutter Street from its former location, also on Franklin Street. The present Perlet studio is located at 1350 Sutter Street, in the same building in which the well known Bendix Conservatory of Music was situated previous to the earthquake. Mr Perlet occupies the spacious music room which the will be gratefully remebered by those who had the good fortune to attend some of the pupil recitals given in this historic hall. It is one of the largest and prettiest studios in this city and its well polisched, hardwood floor, together with the artistically frescoed ceiling, give it quite a distinguished appearance. Mr. Perlet has left nothing undone to give this spendid studio an homelike appearance, and on the walls may be seen an array of portaits of someof the world's most distinguished artists and composers, all of whom are or were Mr. Perlet's personal friends, as may be easily gathered from the affectionate autographs which each of these pictures bear. It is one of the largest and most interesting collections of autographed portraits of celebrities we have ever seen. Those in Mr. Perlet's studio are only a few of the collection and among them are: Edward German, Frederick Stock, the director of the Thomas orchestra, Reignald de Koven, Davis Bispham, Harry Rowe-Shelly, the famous organist and composer, Gustav Becker, the well known New York pianist, Henry Hadley, leader of the Seattle Symphony Orchestra, L. Mancinelli, E. Bevignani, Julian Edwards, Nahan Franko, John asnd Zoe Cheshire, the distinguished harpists, Alice Nielson, Marguerite Sylva, Henry W. Savage, Madison Corey, general business manger for Mr. Savage, and Victor Herbert. Among the real pictorial treasures in Mr. Perlet's studio is a full length colored portrait of Verdi, of which only a very few are in the United States. Mr. Perlet is to be congratualted upon his tasteful arrangement of the studio.
    article from the Pacific Coast Musical Review
    (Saturday, May 6, 1911, p. 8)

    Scope and Content

    Collection includes manuscript and published scores of Perlet's songs, light operas and theatrical works, and orchestral and chamber music, as well as librettos, 4 scrapbooks, news articles, programs, brochures, and photographs. Also included is a small collection of photographs of Belle Thorne Perlet.