Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trebor Tichenor 1940 - 2014

Trebor Tichenor, the St. Louis native who became internationally known as a ragtime pianist and historian, has died. He was 74. An obituary in Tuesday's Post-Dispatch says he died Saturday at Laclede Groves in Webster Groves after having suffered a stroke in December.

As pianist for the St. Louis Ragtimers, Tichenor (pictured) was a regular performer on St. Louis stages and at ragtime and traditional jazz festivals across the country for five decades. He accumulated what was said to be one of the world's largest collections of ragtime, totaling more than 10,000 piano rolls and pieces of sheet music.

Tichenor also wrote a noted book, Rags and Ragtime, on the history of ragtime; composed a series of original rags that were published in three folios; and for many years hosted radio programs and taught college classes about the music he loved. To paraphrase the title of an article former Post-Dispatch music critic James Wierzbicki wrote about Tichenor for Ragtimer magazine in 1978, he "lived, breathed and collected ragtime music."

The Post-Dispatch obit, linked above, has a good overview of Tichenor's life and career, and there are more details at Tichenor's Wikipedia page. Tichenor discussed his youth, early influences, and St. Louis' ragtime history in a November 2010 article for St. Louis magazine. Also, St. Louis Ragtimers fan Bob Whiteside has compiled some vintage photos and audio of the group at a tribute website.

Survivors include a daughter, Virginia Tichenor, also a ragtime pianist, of Oakland, CA; a son, Andy Tichenor, a trumpeter living in Edwardsville; a brother, Bruce Tichenor of Concord, CA; and two granddaughters. His wife Ethel Taft Tichenor died in 1986.

Visitation will be from 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. Thursday at Kutis Affton Chapel, 10151 Gravois Road. The funeral will be at 11:00 a.m. Friday at same location, with burial at Sunset Cemetery.

In the first embedded video window below, you can see and hear Trebor Tichenor playing "Maple Leaf Rag," one of the most famous compositions by one of his favorite musicians, Scott Joplin. The second clip shows the St. Louis Ragtimers performing "Red Rose Rag" for the Saint Louis Jazz Club in July, 2011. In addition to Tichenor, the band includes Al Stricker (banjo & vocal), Don Franz (tuba), Bill Mason (cornet), Eric Sager (clarinet), and Joe Thompson (trombone).

The third video window features a recording of Tichenor playing "Boomtown Echoes" from his LP of the same name, accompanied by a slide show of photos of the pianist, his family, friends and fellow musicians, which according to the accompanying notes were taken by George C. Willick at Tichenor's home between 1979 and 1981.

Update, 9:00 a.m., 3/14/14: KWMU's "CityScape" program last week aired an hour-long tribute to Tichenor, which can be heard online here.

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