Theodore Moses Tobani (May 2, 1855 − December 12, 1933) was a German-American composer and arranger of popular music. Tobani was born Theodore Moses on May 2, 1855, in Hamburg, Germany, the son of Josef Moses, a cigar manufacturer, and Marianne Wède Moses. He began violin studies at the age of three and by five was playing violin on horseback in a circus. Around that time, the family moved to the United States, where he attended the Rivington School in New York City, NY, but they returned to Europe in order to provide him a thorough musical education when it became evident that Theodore was a musical prodigy. He was a concert violinist by the time he was ten, playing solo violin with a company that toured Europe, even performing before the Pope.
A year later Tobani’s father permitted him to accept an engagement in the Hamburg Stadttheater orchestra, and he began studying other instruments. For the next four years he studied piano and harmony with Julius von Bernuth, conductor of the Hamburg Philharmonic, and the art of phrasing with August Schäffer in Berlin. Tobani completed his studies in 1870 under Ferdinand David of Leipzig, then considered the finishing school of the most talented violinists in Europe. The family returned to the U.S. in 1871, and Theodore took positions as a violinist in several groups.. In June Tobani joined the Music Mutual Protective Union and accepted an engagement as first violin at Simpson’s Theater on North Ninth and Arch streets, in Philadelphia, PA. One evening the regular conductor was taken ill, and the sixteen-year-old Tobani, quite to his surprise, was asked to substitute. He acquitted himself so well that he was asked to take full charge of the orchestra until the end of the season. From 1872 to 1874 he was first violinist in the orchestra of Wallack’s Theatre in New York City.
As a composer, Tobani wrote “Our Little Nestling”, in 1883 for Mrs. Lester Wallack, for which he was paid $35. His best known composition was “Hearts and Flowers,” which he composed in half an hour in 1893 using a tune by Hungarian composer Alphons Czibulka, and which continued to sell more than 100,000 copies annually until the end of his life. He was so prolific that his publisher, Carl Fischer, insisted that he use multiple pseudonyms such as Andrew Herman; Fischer was concerned that nobody would believe how much Tobani was composing. He also composed “Around the Christmas Tree,” subtitled “A Yule-Tide Potpourri,” which was later arranged for band by Louis-Philippe Laurendeau. Tobani was also a real estate dealer and owned property in Queens, NY. He died there on December 12, 1933. Seven children survived him, but his wife, Helen, had died some time earlier.
. The following works by Theodore Moses Tobani are contained in my collection:
Columbus, Grand Descriptive Fantasia (1898).
A Trip to Coney Island, Serio-Comic Fantasia (1889).