Collection 400 - Gene Quaw Collection, 1921-1951
Creator: Quaw, Gene
Provenance Note: Autographed tribute album, photographs, and printed ephemera pertaining to Gene Quaw were donated to Montana State University by Gene Quaw, Doris Wilson, and Mrs. Richard C. Day, all of Bozeman, Montana in 1966 and 1972.
Historical Note: Eugene Cole "Gene" Quaw was born in Belgrade, Montana on March 6, 1891. His family moved to Bozeman around 1896 and Gene attended local schools before graduating from Montana State College (Montana State University) in 1910. While growing up he worked as a piano player at the Bozeman Opera House under musical director Louis Leo Howard and early displayed a talent for music composition. Gene worked as a band leader and composer after his graduation from college in Bozeman and also studied at the University of Minnesota, the University of California at Los Angeles, the University of Arizona, and Louisiana State University where he worked as the recreation director for twenty years until his retirement in 1961. During the 1920s, he conducted a dance orchestra for several summers at Yellowstone National Park, and he also worked for the Paramount motion picture company as a composer for cartoon features. Gene's published musical scores include: Under Any Old Moon at All (1909), Twilight Time (1920), Old Man Jazz (1920), Nobody Else (1923), The Rose of Sigma Chi (1924), Yellowstone (1937) Song of the Engineers (1942), and Dream Girl of Sigma Chi (1948). Gene Quaw died in Bozeman, Montana on December 17, 1968.
Content Description Note: The Gene Quaw collection consists of a autographed tribute album, some printed items, and 106 black and white photographs taken of Quaw, his band members, and friends in Yellowstone National Park, most of which are circa 1921-1922. The photographs are almost all informal snapshots of Yellowstone scenes and the outdoor performance stage at the Canyon Hotel where Quaw and his band performed with the "Canyon Hotel Follies" during the summer of 1922. Some photographs appear to have been taken much later, showing Quaw holding a copy of his score for Yellowstone which was not published until 1937. The autograph album was presented to Quaw in late 1951 after he had performed a special concert in Bozeman, Montana for many long-time residents, many of whom recalled his work in Yellowstone. Those who attended the concert put together the album which contains many tributes to Quaw as a musician and friend. Among the signers are Bozeman musician Louis Leo Howard and architect Fred F. Willson. The printed materials in the collection consist of a copy of Yellowstone, along with a mimeograph lyric sheet for the song dated March 4,1947, a business card for Quaw as pianist for the "Lone Star Trio" at Old Faithful Inn, and a program for a formal recital at Mammoth Hot Springs, September 11, 1921. The original hand carved wooden cover for the autographed tribute album has been retained with the collection.