Illustrated Songbooks, Part II

This post is part of the Illustrated Songbooks series.

Songbooks Illustrated by Henriette Willebeek le Mair

Little Songs of Long Ago, music by Alfred Moffat

Our Old Nursery Rhymes, music by Alfred Moffat

Old Dutch Nursery Rhymes, music by Julius Rontgen

Henriette Willebeek le Mair was a Dutch illustrator born in 1889. As a teenager, she published her first book. She also received instruction from Maurice Boutet de Monvel, a well-known French illustrator. Comparing the works of these two illustrators shows the strong influence that Boutet de Monvel had on the young Willebeek le Mair. During the time these books were published, she was also a teacher in a school she ran from her home. The students became her models for her illustrations.

Alfred Moffat was a musician, composer and collector of music born in Scotland in 1863. For the books he did with Willebeek le Mair, he arranged existing folk songs and wrote original music to go with nursery rhymes.

Julius Rontgen was born in 1855 in Germany, and was a pianist and composer. He grew up in a family that counted Johannes Brahms as one of their friends. In his later years, he tried his hand at writing atonal music and hosted guests such as Edvard Grieg, Percy Grainger, and Pablo Casals at his home. He also accompanied silent movies with folk tunes he had transcribed and published years earlier.

Songbooks Illustrated by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel

Old Songs and Rounds for Little Children, music by Charles-Marie Widor

Some Nursery Rhymes of Belgium, France & Russia, French songs by Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin, words translated by L. Edna Walter

Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel was born in France in 1850. He began his career as a painter, but took up illustrating books as a way to bring in more money to support his family. The first of these books was published in 1881, and more books followed. The Boston Public Library owns several of the books he illustrated including the two listed here. He is considered to be one of the great children’s book illustrators of his time.

Charles-Marie Widor was a French composer, teacher, and organist born in France in 1844. As a composer, he is best known for his works written for the organ. When he was 24 years old, he was appointed assistant to the composer and organist Camille Saint-Saëns at Église de la Madeleine in Paris. He stayed in that position for only a year. Through the influence of Charles Goudod, Cavaillé-Coll, and Saint-Saëns, he became the organist of Saint-Sulpice in Paris when he was 25 and stayed there for 64 years.

In the second book listed here, “Some Nursery Rhymes of Belgium, France & Russia,” Jean-Baptiste Weckerlin is the arranger of the French songs. He was born in 1821 in France, and besides being a composer he was also a librarian.

L. Edna Walter was a writer and editor of books for children and specialized in nursery rhymes. Some of her books are illustrated with her own photographs.