Date: Thu, 2 Jul 1998 07:53:01 -0400
From: "Steven L. Schaffner" <>
Subject: Re: Edna White

No, Edna White is not teaching anywhere 'cept maybe behind the pearly gates. She died a few years ago after reaching the ripe old age of 99. Sure wish she had made that century mark. I was very privileged to know her when she was in her early 80s, and helped her finish a work she had on the drawing board for a number of years. My task was largely to orchestrate it.
Her eyesight was bad, so sometimes the notes on the paper were a bit hard to decipher, but together, we mangaged to finish it, and it was premiered (by yours truly) by the Pioneer Valley Symphony with Nathan Gottschalk conducting.

Edna was truly a pioneer. She was a woman playing a "man's" instrument--the trumpet--not the cornet. She recorded for Edison Records (she was one of his favorite performers), she was on the B.F. Keith vaudeville circuit with her (her words) girls quartette (her spelling) which consisted of 4 young women, 2 tpts and 2 trbs. She later performed in vaudeville with her husband (for a while) Torcum Bezazian (which name her son said sounded like a sneeze) until he took off to return to his native land (whatever it was).

She became very ill, and had to give up her career for a while, but in the days before insurance and such, got back into playing as quickly as possible with a trumpet lent to her by a friend with a music store.

She wrote a book about her experiences, and I am proud to have an autographed copy of it. It is called "The Night the Camel Screamed".

She was also a proflific poet, and was published into her 90s.

And, the most important thing to me personally was the way she single-handedly change my attitude about my career from a negative one to a can-do one. She gave me a great deal of encouragement, insisting that I was a genius undiscovered. (I did my best to keep the truth about that from her.) She was a real fireball even in her 80s, and would not stop till she accomplished her latest goal. I could go on for days, I suppose. If you spot any of her old Edison recordings (especially The Debutante), have a listen. She plays like a guy. (Flames will bounce off of my asbestos monitor.)

Steven L. Schaffner