Digest>Archives> June 2009

Lighthouse Inspired Music

By Timothy Harrison


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One of the lesser known lighthouse collectibles is old sheet music with a lighthouse cover or a song about a lighthouse. Most of the old sheet music that we’ve come across over the years that has a lighthouse scene on the cover, generally was a song or music related to the sea or the coast and very few of the songs were actually written about lighthouses and if they were, we generally have no knowledge of the history behind the song or music.

However, this musical score, in the Lighthouse Digest archive collection, included a story by the composer as to why he composed the music. It was published in 1921 by the Melody Music Company of New York and was composed by a young immigrant named Emerick Janoska who, in recalling his voyage to the United States, wrote the following:


When, as a boy of 17 years old, I was traveling from Europe to the United States to find a new home there, I felt every way except good. Although as I was traveling with friends, nevertheless some sort of apprehension and uncertainty seemed to entail me. The further I got away from home, the stronger my longing for home and my dear ones grew, because do what you will you can not help but love the land where you spent your childhood.

Embarking at Antwerp, on a ship, which late that night steamed in close to the shores of England, where for some reason unaccountable to me it stopped. It was a still moonlit night. Sitting on deck I noticed how a lighthouse close to the shore cast its warning light from time to time on our ship, as if it wanted to tell us it was on guard, and then I heard faintly the chime of the bells, which came from somewhere on the shore. This reminded me of the little church in the village where I was born and to which my mother used to lead me by the hand when I was yet a little boy. These memories and the warning light of the lighthouse made such an impression on me that it will never fade out of my memory.

This gave me the inspiration to compose the Reverie entitled "NIGHT IN THE LIGHTHOUSE," in which I endeavor to imitate the sensations felt by me upon the above-mentioned trip. This composition opens with Church Chimes, mixed with music imitating the organ; after this follows a medley soul inspiring and gratifying to the ear including some passage work imitating the ocean waves. The composition ends with the chiming of bells coming from somewhere on the shore.

As to how far I have succeeded imitating I leave, dear reader, to your judgment.

Unfortunately, we have been unable to find any biographical information about Emerick Janoska, who seems to have disappeared into the dusty pages of time, but some of his music will live on forever.

This story appeared in the June 2009 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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