The Cylinder Recordings from the Gerhardt Marimba Xylophone Collection

The Gerhardt Marimba Xylophone Collection was acquired over many years by Edwin L. Gerhardt. This unique and comprehensive collection was donated to the Percussive Arts Society Museum in 1995. The Gerhardt archive includes reference books, music instrument catalogs, scores, methods books, pictures, correspondence, miscellaneous information, personal reminiscences, a music-related stamp collection, phonograph machines, and cylinder, disc, and tape recordings.

We are pleased to make the cylinder recordings from this collection available to the public, as Mr. Gerhardt would have wished. This project received generous funding from The Lawton Community Foundation and support from Prof. James Strain, PAS Historian, Prof. Kurt Gartner, PAS Music Technology Committee Chair, and Chris Miller, Music Technology student at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, VA.

May 30, 1907 - July 7, 1995

Edwin L. Gerhardt fell in love with the marimba, its sound, and everything about it, in 1921, at the age of 14 after attending a concert by the U.S. Marine Band at the Lyric Theatre in Baltimore, Maryland. A young Marine marimba soloist performed that evening, and it changed Ed’s outlook on music for the rest of his life. Following the concert, he immediately started building crude imitations of the marimba and began saving money in order to buy himself a real instrument.

By 1926, Ed Gerhardt was performing as a marimbist throughout the Baltimore area - performing for churches, lodges, minstrel shows, and vaudeville shows. He performed on radio station WCAO in 1928, and performed with the Rosewood Marimba Band in the late 1930’s to early 1940’s.

Ed’s interest in the marimba gradually shifted from the perspective of performing on the instrument to its historical significance while working for the Johns Hopkins press and bookstore. It was then that he began collecting books on music. His collection of books, recordings (including Edison cylinder recordings dating back to 1902), and other lore about the marimba (and by now the xylophone), grew and grew over the years. In 1963 the Library of Congress expressed an interest in obtaining the collection, but Ed hesitated, feeling he would lose personal contact with it.

When Dale Rauschenberg came to Baltimore in 1966 to become the percussion instructor at Towson University, he and Ed Gerhardt met in early 1967 and became close friends. By 1970 Ed Gerhardt had decided to donate his collection to Towson University and served as its curator, continuing to add more and more information, recordings, and memorabilia to the collection until it became one of the largest in the world.

In 1995, through the urging of Dale Rauschenberg and other officials from the international organization, the Percussive Arts Society, Mr. Gerhardt was persuaded to donate his collection to the Percussive Arts Society’s museum at the national headquarters in Lawton, Oklahoma where percussionists from throughout the world would have access to its information. The Edwin L. Gerhardt Marimba/Xylophone Collection was transferred to the Percussive Arts Society’s national museum in Oklahoma on June 21, 1995. Ed Gerhardt passed away just 16 days later.

The biography of Edwin L. Gerhardt was submitted by Prof. Dale Rauschenberg, Department of Music, Towson University.
Photos taken from the Gerhardt Collection.

Related links:
Library of Cylinder Recordings
Gerhardt Collection Museum Page, Percussive Notes, V. 38, N. 6, December 2000
Cylinder Artists: Bios, Photos

Contact Us:

Percussive Arts Society
110 W. Washington Street Suite A
Indianapolis, IN 46204
T: 317.974.4488
F: 317.974.4499
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