Robert Hood Bowers

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Portrait of Robert Hood Bowers

Robert Hood Bowers (24 May 1877 - 29 December 1941) was an American composer, conductor and musical director of operettas and stage musicals, and a conductor and musical director for radio. He composed the musical scores for some of the most popular silent movies, including Aloma of the South Seas and A Daughter of the Gods.


Born and raised in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, Robert Hood Bowers was the eldest son of Ellen Graham Heyser and Oliver C. Bowers (a district attorney of Franklin County, and nominee for the Democratic Party for Pennsylvania's 17th congressional district for the 1904 elections); when Bowers was 14, he went to the Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, graduating in 1896. He started working as head of the Musical Department of Cheltenham Military Academy. At the same time, he continued his musical studies first with Constantin von Sternberg and later with Frederick Grant Gleason at the Conservatory of Chicago,[1] where he won the gold medal in 1902,[2] he married Virginia Belving on September 16, 1905.[3] Their only son was also called Robert Hood Bowers (born in 1906, he became a Professor of English at the University of Florida.[4])

Working as a conductor for Victor Herbert for five years,[5] and as a conductor at the radio stations WMCA, WEAF and WOR, as well as for the Columbia Phonograph Company, Robert Hood Bowers composed songs, school music, operettas and musicals, he also composed dances in an 'oriental' style for modern dance pioneer Ruth St. Denis and music for comic operas of Jesse Louis Lasky.[6] He was employed at the School of Radio Technique at the Rockefeller Center, as the head of the musical department for five years before his death, he died in New York in 1941.[7]


His score for A Daughter of the Gods, which was the most expensive movie made until then, was created especially for the movie, which was then unusual; the score was explicitly mentioned in the advertisements for the movie[8] and was described in 1921 as the most memorable up to that time,[9] and as "a high point of motion picture music".[10]

Film scores[edit]

Musicals, plays and operettas[edit]

Cover of the sheet music of Chinese Lullaby, a song created by Bowers for the musical East is West in 1919


  1. ^ a b c Biographical Annals of Franklin County, Pennsylvania, VOLUME 2. p. 538. ISBN 978-0-7884-3739-7. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "Robert Hood Bowers". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 54 (2): 31. 10 January 1942. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  3. ^ "Notes ofInsurance Interests" (PDF). New York Times. 17 September 1905. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  4. ^ "Robert Hood Bowers". Gainesville Sun. 5 August 1985. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Eleven Noted Stars on Air". St. Petersburg Times. 5 May 1928. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  6. ^ a b c "Notes Written on the Screen" (PDF). New York Times. 4 June 1916. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  7. ^ a b c d e f "Bowers' Father Dies in North". The Evening Independent. 30 December 1941. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  8. ^ "Daughter of the Gods". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 30 April 1917. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  9. ^ Koszarski, Richard (1994). An evening's entertainment: the age of the silent feature picture, 1915-1928. University of California Press. p. 42. ISBN 978-0-520-08535-0. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  10. ^ Altman, Rick (2007). Silent film sound. Columbia University Press. p. 299. ISBN 978-0-231-11663-3. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  11. ^ "Plays and Players" (PDF). New York Times. 23 April 1911. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  12. ^ a b Franceschina, John Charles (2003). Harry B. Smith: dean of American librettists. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-93862-4. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  13. ^ Starr, Kevin (1986). Inventing the Dream: California Through the Progressive Era. Oxford University Press. p. 298. ISBN 978-0-19-504234-4. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  14. ^ Moon, Krystyn R. (2005). Yellowface: creating the Chinese in American popular music and performance. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 978-0-8135-3507-4. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  15. ^ Golden, Eve (2007). Vernon and Irene Castle's ragtime revolution. University Press of Kentucky. p. 262. ISBN 978-0-8131-2459-9. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  16. ^ "At the Vaudeville Theatres" (PDF). New York Times. 28 January 1912. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  17. ^ "Goy Fourth for Lennox" (PDF). New York Times. 30 June 1914. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  18. ^ Hubbard, W. L.; Krehbiel, H.E. (2004). The American History Encyclopedia Of Music: Operas. Kessinger Publishing. p. 374. ISBN 978-1-4179-3492-8. Retrieved 11 December 2009.
  19. ^ "Article 10 -- No Title" (PDF). New York Times. 31 October 1909. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  20. ^ "Savage Produces "The Wife Tamers"" (PDF). New York Times. 9 August 1910. Retrieved 14 December 2009.
  21. ^ Bush Jones, John (2003). Our musicals, ourselves: a social history of the American musical theater. UPNE. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-87451-904-4. Retrieved 11 December 2009.

External links[edit]