Edna Purviance's bio

June 6, 2018 - Re-editing Edna Purviance's family biography 2nd Draft. Photo: Leading Ladies © used by ednapurviance.org

Friday, April 24, 2009

Edna, The Great Dictator & the Hungarian Dance

What do Edna Purviance, The Great Dictator and the Hungarian Dance have in common? The music was used by both Edna Purviance and Charlie Chaplin at different times in their lives. Chaplin for the film The Great Dictator in 1940 and Edna Purviance for a piano recital in October 1911.

If you don't know the music by name, you know it if you heard it. Charlie Chaplin used it for his barbershop scene in The Great Dictator. Remember Charlie keeping time with the music as shaving his customer?

If you remember that, you know you are listening to a popular piece played for many decades. It was written by Johannes Brahms. There was more than one version. Below I have listed two versions of the Hungarian Dance that were published in 1869. One used in The Great Dictator in 1940 and one from 1910, about the time Edna played her piece in Nevada.

First The Great Dictator.
I have one played by full orchestra and one by piano.

In October of 1911, Edna Purviance and others, gave a recital at the Young's Hall in Lovelock, Nevada. Edna learned to play the piano from her mother, Louise, who was an excellent piano player, as was her sister, Bessie Purviance. (Myrtle also played piano very well, but Bessie and Edna were considered the best.)

Edna's chose of music was the Hungarian Dance. Now exactly which version Edna played is not clear from the notes left about this event, but it could have been a popular version on recording at the time or probably the even more popular one as played in The Great Dictator. Either way, Edna did play the music, and you can now hear a full orchestra version from 1907 and 1910.

The Hungarian Dance as recorded in 1907 and 1910.
Both full orchestra. The 1910 recording does sound better.
Hungarian Dance number 2 (rougher sounding recording)

Victor Herbert and his orchestra
FULL ORCHESTRA - More Recent Recording

And for a 'load' of versions of the Hungarian Dance for piano, check out this link.

Fun thought... Did Chaplin remember Edna playing this to him, when he was thinking up the music for his film. We'll never know for sure, but Edna played music often and at many private and public events.

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