Heidelberg Quintet

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The Heidelberg Quintet (or "Quintette," on Victor) was a short-lived but nonetheless outstanding barbershop-styled vocal group that recorded for Victor and Edison from 1912 to 1914. The group was basically…
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The Heidelberg Quintet (or "Quintette," on Victor) was a short-lived but nonetheless outstanding barbershop-styled vocal group that recorded for Victor and Edison from 1912 to 1914. The group was basically the same as the American Quartet, except that countertenor Will Oakland was added to take some especially high parts that helped give the Heidelberg its distinctive sound. The Heidelberg Quintet's arrangements were made by composer George L. Botsford, who was responsible for writing such ragtime standards as "The Grizzly Bear" and "Black and White Rag." With these and other elements in place, the Heidelberg Quintet records remain positive, upbeat, syncopated, and contemporary-sounding for their day, as opposed to the more maudlin, sentimental fare common on pop vocal records of the era.

Besides Oakland, the singers in the Heidelberg Quintet included tenors Billy Murray and John H. Bieling, baritone Steve Porter, and bass William F. Hooley. In September 1913, John H. Bieling retired from singing and was replaced by tenor Robert D. Armour, who also assumed Bieling's place in the American Quartet. Armour was replaced again in the American Quartet in mid-1915 by tenor John Young, but by that time the Heidelberg Quintet had already ceased recording for good.