Monroe H. "Rosey" Rosenfeld (c.1861 – December 13, 1918) was an
American songwriter and journalist. He is credited with coining the
term "Tin Pan Alley", around 1903.
Rosenfeld was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of German
immigrants. By the early 1880s, he was working in
New York City
New York City as a
songwriter, often using pseudonyms such as E. Heiser and F. Belasco.
He started having success around 1884 with such songs as "Climbing Up
the Golden Stairs", and "Her Golden Hair Was Hanging Down Her Back",
written with Scottish-born composer
Felix McGlennon and recorded by
Dan Quinn. His other successes as a songwriter included "Johnny Get
Your Gun" (1886, credited as F. Belasco), and "With All Her Faults I
Love Her Still" (1888). The latter song was based on an earlier tune
by Theodore Metz, but Rosenfeld was notorious for making use of lax
copyright laws to claim publishing rights in his own name, and
sometimes bragged that he stole some of his best tunes. Rosenfeld was
regarded as "a master of the tragic boy-girl tale set to music", and
became a well-known local character, noted for his loves of poker,
women and gambling.
Described as "restless and volatile", Rosenfeld also worked as a press
agent and journalist. In 1899, he started writing a series of articles
on popular music in the New York Herald. Reputedly, he visited the
office of songwriter Harry Von Tilzer, who used a piano with muffled
keys to reduce the likelihood of complaints from his neighbors, and
commented that the sound reminded him of tin cans, to which von Tilzer
replied, "Yes, I guess this is a tin pan alley." The phrase was
contained in the title of one of Rosenfeld's articles and became
widely used as a description of the area of songwriting offices on
West 28th Street in Manhattan.
In 1917, Rosenfeld became the editor of a music magazine, The Tuneful
Yankee, and set up an office to manage music copyrights. He died in
1918, of acute indigestion.
^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Pop Memories 1890-1954: The History of
American Popular Music. Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research,
Inc. p. 360. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
^ a b c Dale Brumfield, "The Song Thief: How a melodic kleptomaniac
from Richmond coined the phrase Tin Pan Alley", Style Weekly, February
25, 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2017
^ a b Gammond, Peter (1991). The Oxford Companion to Popular Music.
Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 504.