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Thomas Vincent Cator

Thomas Vincent Cator was born on 23 March 1888 in Jersey City (USA). His father was Thomas Vincent Cator senior (1851-1920), a lawyer and politician who was alderman in Jersey City and later leader of the Populist Party in California. Thomas Vincent Cator junior had a sister Marie (1883-1968), who became a writer and poet and first married Max Wardall (from 1902 to 1912) and later the famous figure skating couch Gustave Lussi (from 1921 to around 1930).

There is no information on the musical education of Thomas Vincent Cator. But it is known that he was immediately successful with his first compositions. Especially his songs received wide acclaim and enthusiastic reviews. This led to many performances of his works with a highlight in 1918 when his song "The Kiss" was sung by renowned Eleonora de Cisneros on a special "Liberty Bonds Sale" in New York. After the song Ms. Cisneros kissed 43 banker to get one million dollars for each kiss. The headline "43 millions for 43 kisses" was published nationwide.


A newspaper obituary states that Thomas Vincent Cator's most significant achievement was the "discovery and use of what he called the aura-modal scale". Cator published the compositional idea and ten illustrative piano pieces through Birchard in 1929. (see also the photo below, a clipping from a newspaper)


The work catalogue of Thomas Vincent Cator consists mainly on songs for voice and piano, but there are also a violin sonata, piano works like the pieces in "Aura-modal scale and aura modality", operettas like "Inchling" on a text by Rem Remsen and ballets. Several of his songs were published by such renowned houses like Schirmer, Carl Fischer or Schuberth.

Beside his work as a composer Thomas Vincent Cator was music critic for the Carmel Pine Cone since 1926 and also worked as a private teacher.
Thomas Vincent Cator died on a heart attack on 9 April 1931 in Carmel (USA).

In my possession are two autograph manuscripts by Thomas Vincent Cator. The first is a song cycle called "One Day" and the second one is an individual song called "St. Moritz".

For both compositions Marie Cator, the sister of Thomas Vincent Cator, provided the lyrics. And both compositions are undated, but the writing of the name of Marie Cator indicates when the works were approximately composed.

One Day, for voice and piano

The song cycle "One Day" consists of four songs titled 1. At Dawn, 2. Fragrance, 3. Immortelle and 4. At Dusk. The subtitle says "conceived through the reading of 'The Lotos-eaters' by Tennyson and written by Marie Wardall". Marie Cator was married to Max Wardall from 1902 to 1912 and so the songs were composed most likely around 1910.

PDF-Dokument [272.5 KB]


St. Moritz, for voice and piano

The song "St. Moritz" is subtitled "A song of the Swiss Ice Skaters". The work is dedicated to Gustave Lussi and the lyrics were written - according to the manuscript - by Marie Lussi. Again this is the sister of Thomas Vincent Cator, but now married to Gustave Lussi which was the case in the 1920s. So this song was composed most likely around 1925.

PDF-Dokument [174.9 KB]
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© Tobias Broeker