Myrtle "Myrtie" Wallace

"Lord Strathcona" March by Myrtie C. Wallace

Time Period

1860-1910

Subject Categories

Arts

Notable Facts

Myrtie Wallace was known for her work on marches in the early to mid 1900s. She was dubbed "queen of marches" by John Phillip Sousa, and some of her more famous marches are entitled "O Power Divine", "Jesus My Refuge" and "The Yankee Division"

Personal Information

Date of Birth

06/30/1870

Date of Death

07/16/1948

Primary Residence

Cambridge

Historical Significance

Myrtie Wallace Watson Frenyear was born Myrtle Wallace on June 30, 1870 in Cambridge Vermont, the daughter of Mary and Charles Wallace. Wallace was an incredibly gifted musician who composed and performed music throughout her life. She is most well known for the marches that she composed and the notice that famous people such as John Phillip Sousa and John D. Rockefeller, Jr. gave her for her work. Aside from her fame outside of the state of Vermont she was constantly giving back to her community through using her musical talent.

She was musically inclined from a very young age. When she was a baby, it was said that she could hum tunes that her mother sang. She became a very gifted piano player by the age of 12. She composed her first march while still a young school girl and continued to compose through out her life. Despite her musical ability, she was never able to read or write music. Once she heard something she never forgot it and this allowed for her to compose the music in her head and not have it written down. In order to get her music published she would go to Montreal to have someone transcribe what she was playing.

She composed "Waltz Charles", which she wrote for her father, and "The Y.D. 26th Division March", which was played for those coming back from World War I. In addition, she wrote "Lord Strathcoma", "Senator Carol S. Page", "Queen of My Heart", "Unconditional Surrender" and "The Express of Ireland." The exact number of pieces that she wrote in her lifetime is unclear but her obituary credits 50 musical works to her name.

She preformed in a variety of arenas from her local community to New York City. She loved entertaining people. In her own hometown of Cambridge she was the organist of the local Cambridge Church. On January 9, 1922, Myrtie married James Watson who was a station agent at the Cambridge train station. He died six years later. Her second marriage in October 1947 was to a New York City man, Harry Frenyear; she remained married to him until her death in 1948. She died while she was driving back from visiting friends in Essex. It was ruled a heart attack but, many in Cambridge believe that she was poisoned by her husband as it was so soon after the wedding and he promptly left town.

Occupations

  • Composer
  • Musical performer

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • "Empress of Ireland" waltz Link

Additional Images

"Empress of Ireland" Waltz by Myrtie C. Wallace