Breuer, Harry

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Harry Breuer


Born: October 24, 1901

Died: June 22, 1989 Brightwater, New York

Country: Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A.

Studies: New York Academy of Music; elected to Percussive Arts Society "Hall of Fame" (1980)


Mention: Inducted into the Percussive Arts Society (1980) PAS Hall of Fame[1]

Harry Breuer, one of the great mallet players and composer of highly original xylophone solos such as "Back Talk," "On the Woodpile" and "Bit O' Rhythm," achieved fame in the 1920s when he was a soloist in the big United States movie houses. He broadcasted from New York's Roxy Theater, played the major radio shows during the 1920s and '30s, recorded for Warner Bros. and Fox Movietone, and finally joined the NBC radio staff where he played for such conductors as Robert Russell Bennett and Skitch Henderson. In the 1940s and 1950s Breuer was featured in several films, and during the 1950s he recorded four feature record albums including Mallet Magic. Leaving broadcasting in the 1960s, he continued as a freelance artist and joined Carroll Sound in New York as a consultant.[2]


Harry Breuer, a percussionist and xylophonist in vaudeville and television who performed with Paul Whiteman and Benny Goodman, died of cancer Thursday at his home in Brightwaters, L.I. He was 87 years old.

Mr. Breuer began his career during World War I as the Boy Wonder of the xylophone. When George Gershwin was composing An American in Paris, he consulted Mr. Breuer, who performed the piece with the Whiteman orchestra at Carnegie Hall. As staff percussionist at NBC studios for more than 30 years, Mr. Breuer played for the Tonight show and other NBC productions. Last year, he recorded the album Mallets in Wonderland.

He is survived by his wife, Marian; his sons, Harry Jr., Robert and Anthony, and his brother, William, of Garden City, L.I.[3]

Works for Percussion

Back Talk - Xylophone; Marimba; Marimba Quartet
Bit O'Rhythm - Xylophone; Piano
Blue Tid Bit - Xylophone; Marimba Trio
Boomerang - Xylophone
Chokin' The Bell - Vibraphone
Fiesta Waltz - Xylophone
Four Stick Joe - Xylophone; Marimba Trio
Harry Breuer's Mallet Solo Collection - Xylophone; Piano
Imitation - Vibraphone
Improvisation No.1 - Marimba
Improvisation No.2 - Marimba
La Cumparsita - Mallets
Minor Movement - Xylophone; Marimba Trio
On the Woodpile - Xylophone; Piano
Powder Puff - Xylophone; Piano
Ragtime Solos - Xylophone; Marimba; Piano
Reminiscing for Vibes - Vibraphone

Additional Resources

You can find the following in the PAS online Archives:"Novelty Xylophone Recollections, An Interview with Harry Breuer" by Randall Eyles: Percussive Notes, Vol. 35, No. 6, Dec. 1997 (210k PDF file)"Interview with Harry Breuer" by Jeffrey E. Bush: Percussive Notes, Vol. 18, No. 3, Spring/Summer 1980 (2.2Mb pdf file)[4]