That ad was followed the next day by a second, equally astonishing, I think, but for a different reason. This ad repeats some of the hyperbole of the previous day's ad, but features "the masterly musical triumphs" of John Duss in its sales pitch.
Praise of John Duss--one of the last trustees of, and when he died in 1951, the last surviving member of, The Harmony Society--the world's famous bandmaster," topped the ad, applauding the "music of prosperity" he brought to the "Marvelous New City of Economy" by selling off the Society's land. And behind a sketch of the new American Bridge plant, there's a huge one of Duss the conductor.
I suspect few people today remember Duss for his musical talents. I know how surprised I was when I first read about his career as conductor and composer shortly after I started this blog.
I've wondered if Duss, who surely thought very highly of his musical abilities, helped compose the ad.
|Ad for "The Marvel City"|
May 24, 1904
You can read the ad much better in the online digitized edition of the Pittsburg Press by clicking here.
History has not been exactly kind to the reputation of Duss, accused of misappropriating the Society's money to support his lavish lifestyle, including taking "the New York City Metropolitan Opera Orchestra on a coast-to-coast tour as their 'guest conductor'–at the community's expense." His wife's decision to dissolve the Society and keep its assets led to an 11-year legal battle.
I've read some of the reviews written during Duss' musical career, and they range from raves, to pans of his performances and compositions as mere vanity projects. A good summary can be found at the Pittsburgh Music History site, which includes his dismissal by some critics as a "narcissistic buffoon."
Among Duss' contributions to Ambridge's music scene was the composition of a St. Veronica's mass that he conducted in the church in 1916. He conducted the music, much of it composed by him, during the Economy Centennial in 1924. Years after his "last public appearance as a conductor" at St. John's Lutheran Church in 1929, Duss exhibited his musical talents, whatever they may have been, at a 1947 concert at Old Economy.
* Using the spelling "Pittsburg" used by the newspaper at that time.