Just as this issue goes to press, word reaches me from Ruth Robin, of Brooklyn, of the passing of Burton Gedney. He died on March 1st in his ninety-fourth year.
Well known to "B.M.G." readers in this country and famous in his native America, Burton Gedney, the doyen of finger-style banjoists, was actively playing until shortly before his death, despite being almost blind. His unique experience as a player encompassed the whole range of banjo development. As a brilliant finger-stylist, he partnered Alex Magee (with Alex's first wife as pianist) in the Magee, Gedney, and Magee Trio which featured banjo music at its best.
Born on January 28th, 1873, Mr. Gedney was a pupil of Frank B. Converse who, it is claimed, was the first American banjoist to play the instrument in a truly musical manner. At the age of 22, Burton Gedney teamed up with Harry S. Six and, with the billing of "Six and Gedney", they appeared on the vaudeville stage in various American cities. Together, they also conducted a studio at New Rochelle, N.Y., teaching the banjo, mandolin and guitar. (Mr. Six was instrumental coach at the New York University.)
After the death of Harry Six in 1924, Burton Gedney became active in radio and broadcast from WEAF, WOR, WNYC, WEBJ and WFAS and he later made several appearances on TV's "Life Begins at Eighty" programme.
As well as being a composer (his "Banjoesque" appeared in the October 1951 issue of "B.M.G."), Burton was a prolific arranger —particularly of sacred music—and wrote many impressive hymns. A fine musician, he was also beloved for his kindly disposition. May his gentle soul rest in peace.