BALL, ERNEST R. (22 July 1878-3 May 1927), composed many popular songs from 1904-27. Born in Cleveland to Anna (Kocker) and Ernest Adelbert Ball, he studied at the Cleveland Conservatory (now known as the CLEVELAND INSTITUTE OF MUSIC) before moving to New York where he became a vaudeville pianist. Later, Litmark Music Publishing House hired him as a demonstrator and staff composer. Ball's first successful composition was "Will You Love Me in December as You Do in May?" which he wrote with Jas. J. Walker, who later became mayor of New York. He next composed musical scores for Broadway shows, including Barry of Ballymore (1910), The Isle of Dreams (1913), and Heart of Paddy Whack which he wrote for noted Irish tenor Chauncey Olcott in 1914. His other collaborators included Geo. Graff, Darl MacBoyle, J. Kiern Brennan, Arthur Penn, Annelu Burns, and David Reed.

Ball composed "Mother Machree," "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," "A Little Bit of Heaven," "Dear Little Boy of Mine," and "Let the Rest of the World Go By." His ballad "Mother Machree" became associated with Irish tenors such as John McCormack. Ball also had a successful touring career as a singer of his own ballads, with his sentimental music appealing to scholarly musicians as well as the general public. While on tour in Santa Ana, CA., in 1927, he suffered a fatal heart attack. He was married twice, first in 1898 to Jessie Mae Jewett; (they had three children: Roland A., Ruth Mary, and Ernest A.). His second marriage (beginning and ending in 1911 was to Maude Lambert), a vaudeville entertainer. Ball is buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.

Updated by Christopher Roy  12/1/2023


Black, white and red text reading Western Reserve Historical Society

Finding aid for the Ernest R. Ball Papers. WRHS.

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