Egbert Van Alstyne

Egbert Anson Van Alstyne (March 4, 1878 July 9, 1951) was an American songwriter and pianist. Van Alstyne was the composer of a number of popular and ragtime tunes of the early 20th century.[1]


Van Alstyne was born in Marengo, Illinois. After some time touring in Vaudeville he moved to New York City, initially working as a Tin Pan Alley song-plugger until he was able to make his living as a songwriter. He teamed with lyricist Harry H. Williams. Their first success was "Navajo" which was introduced in the Broadway musical Nancy Brown in 1903 and became one of the first records by Billy Murray early in 1904.[2] Their best remembered song is In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree from 1905.

Other Van Alstyne hits included "Won't You Come Over to My House?", "I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark", and "Memories".

Van Alstyne shares credit with Tony Jackson on the hit "Pretty Baby". It was common for Tin Pan Alley publishers to add the name of one of their famous hit makers to tunes, and many have speculated this as being the main reason for Van Alstyne's name appearing on the piece, but Van Alstyne may have had a hand in writing or modifying the verse to Jackson's famous chorus.[2]

He recorded a number of piano rolls.

Van Alstyne lived for many years in Chicago and was buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Evanston, Illinois.

Works by Egbert Van Alstyne, 1900–1920

  • "Rag-time Chimes: Characteristic Two Step" (1900)
  • "Echoes from Egypt" (1901)
  • "Navajo" (1903)
  • "Back, Back, Back to Baltimore" (1904)
  • "Seminole" (1904)
  • "There's a Chicken Dinner Waitin' Home for Me" (1904)
  • "The Cob Web Man" (1905)
  • "Down in Lovers Lane" (1905)
  • "Good-A-Bye John" (1905)
  • "I Want Someone To Love Me" (1905)
  • "In Sunny Little Italy" (1905)
  • "The Janitor" (1905)
  • "A Man May Go to College and Still Be a Fool" (1905)
  • "My Nightingale" (1905)
  • "Nicodemus" (1905)
  • "Senora Papeta" (1905)
  • "There's a Little Fighting Blood In Me" (1905)
  • "Why Don't You Try" (1905)
  • "I'm Wise" (1906)
  • "I'm Going Right Back to Chicago" (1906)
  • "Shoulder Straps" (1906)
  • "My Irish Girl" (1906)
  • "Owatonna (Indian Song)" (1906)
  • "Camp Meeting Time" (1906)
  • "Sally" (1906)
  • "Won't You Come Over to My House" (1906)
  • "Down in the Everglade" (1906)
  • "My Irish Girl" (1906)
  • "Those Are Things That Happen Every Day" (1906)
  • "The Union of the Blue and the Grey" (1906)
  • "Larry" (1906)
  • "I'm Afraid to Come Home in the Dark" (1907)
  • "Neeth the Old Cherry Tree Sweet Marie" (1907)
  • "In the Land of the Buffalo" (1907)
  • "Ain't You Glad You've Found Me" (1907)
  • "That's the Sign of a Honeymoon" (1908)
  • "Ivanhoe - Not Scott's Ivanhoe, but a Scotch Ivanhoe" (1908)
  • "I Was a Hero Too" (1908)
  • "Song of the Waiters" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)
  • "A Little China Doll" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)
  • "That's the Sign of a Honeymoon" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)
  • "Alabama" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)
  • "Love Makes the World Go Round" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)
  • "Marie" from "A Broken Idol" (1909)[3]
  • "Golden Arrow" (1909)
  • "Heinze" (1909)
  • "Go Back: Song" (1909)
  • "Bonnie Annie Laurie" (1909)
  • "Heinze is Pickled Again" (1909)
  • "Cavalier Rustican' Rag" (1910)
  • "Baby Talk" from "Girlies" (1910)
  • "That's Good" from "Girlies" (1910)
  • "The Raggity Man" from "Over the River" (1911)
  • "Injun Love" from "Over the River" (1911)
  • "Oh That Navajo Rag" (1911)
  • "Little Girls Beware (of the Sirens)" from "The Siren" (1911)[4]
  • "I'm Goin' Back to Oklahoma" (1912)
  • "Blarney" (1914)
  • "On The Road to Mexico" (1914)
  • "I Want a Little Love From You." (1915)
  • "When I Was a Dreamer (And You Were My Dream)" (1915)
  • "My Tom Tom Man" (1915)
  • "On the Road to Home Sweet Home" (1916)[5]
  • "Where the Shamrock Grows" (1916)
  • "My Dreamy China Lady" (1916)
  • "Alabama Moon" (1917)
  • "Rock-A-Bye Land" (1917)
  • "I've Been Fiddle-ing Song" (1917)
  • "Because You're Irish Song" (1917)
  • "So Long, Mother" (1917)
  • "Swingin' Along with Lindy" from "Just Around the Corner" (1918)
  • "What Are You Going to Do to Help the Boys?" (1918)
  • "For Your Boy and My Boy" (1918)
  • "Some Quiet Afternoon" from "Good Morning, Judge" (1919)
  • "Sweetie O' Mine" (1920)

Awards and honors

He was inducted into Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970.[6]


  1. The Papers of Will Rogers: Wild West and Vaudeville, April ... - Will Rogers, Arthur Frank Wertheim, Barbara Blair - 2000 - p 482 "Henry's first marriage was to Joe King, and her second to the songwriter Egbert Van Alstyne (1882–1951). A successful composer, Van Alstyne wrote such popular songs as "Navajo," "Back, Back, Back to Baltimore," "In the Shade of the Old ..."
  2. Arwulf Arwulf. "Egbert Van Alstyne", All Music
  3. "A Broken Idol (08/16/1909 - 09/18/1909)". The Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  4. "The Siren (08/28/1911 - 12/16/1911)". The Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on 5 September 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  5. "On the road to home sweet home". Duke Digital Collections.
  6. Egbert Van Alstyne in IMDb

Further reading

  • Charosh, Paul, and Robert A. Fremont. Song Hits from the Turn of the Century: Complete Original Sheet Music for 25 Songs. New York : Dover Publications, 1983. ISBN 0-486-23158-5 OCLC 319031030
  • Evans, P., and P. Lavender. Music for the Millennium: The Twenties A Century of Popular Song. London: Wise Publications, 1997. ISBN 0-7119-4431-8 OCLC 664575069
  • Ewen, David. Popular American Composers from Revolutionary Times to the Present; A Biographical and Critical Guide. New York: H. W. Wilson Co, 1962. OCLC 335386
  • Jasen, David A. Ragtime Gems: Original Sheet Music for 25 Ragtime Classics. New York: Dover, 1986. ISBN 0-486-25248-5 OCLC 317648743
  • Songs with Music by Egbert Van Alstyne: Pretty Baby, in the Shade of the Old Apple Tree. [S.l.]: General Books, 2010. ISBN 1-158-48236-1 OCLC 669743015
  • Studwell, William E. They Also Wrote: Evaluative Essays on Lesser-Known Popular American Songwriters Prior to the Rock Era. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2000. ISBN 0-8108-3789-7 OCLC 43526755
  • Van Alstyne, Egbert, A. J. Mills, Harry Castling, Walter Emerson, and Fred Hallam. In the Shade of the Old Apple Tree: Parody. London: Francis, Day & Hunter, 1906. OCLC 49581075
  • Van Alstyne, Egbert, and Gene Arnold. My Prayer for Today. [S.l.]: M. Witmark & Sons, 1949. OCLC 367497428
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