Monday, May 26, 2014

Recognizing a Great Grandfather

A third picture of my great grandfather may have been identified!

Howard Lutter (1889-1959) was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey.  He relocated to California around 1950.  A talented pianist and musician, he created player piano rolls, from which I acquired my first picture of Howard.

The second discovered picture was from a digitized trade magazine for the player piano industry:  The Music Trade Review, 1923.

My aunt gave me a batch of family photographs to scan and organize.  My grandfather, Clifford Lutter, was a photographer in Newark.  A lot of photographs are not of our family, but rather people he photographed for various reasons.  Most are not labeled with the name of the subjects.  I created a separate page on this blog for people to view the photos and perhaps recognize someone.

One of the photographs struck me as a familiar face.  It was a man, dressed in a suit and tie, with glasses, sitting among various papers.  With no identification on the picture itself, I posted the picture with the rest on the page for Clifford Lutter's photographs.  I kept looking at the face, feeling that this man was not a random subject.  Then I showed the picture to my aunt and uncle and they agreed that this image could very well be Howard Lutter, maybe in the 1940s, when he was in his fifties.

This man is posed in the same direction as the known picture of Howard Lutter, so we can compare them side by side.

What do you think?  Is this the same man?


  1. It could easily have been an older photo of the talented Mr. Lutter who arranged rolls "from" those recorded performances between 1923-1931.

    Supposedly he was listed somewhere as a "Vitaphone Expert" (I forget the source) but evidently went to California, following the lure of talking pictures - as did others like Robert Armbruster of Aeolian.

    Good luck on this project! Arrangers were often kept in the background since companies were selling pianos playing rolls by "famous artists" (but the released rolls were arrangements, primarily by people like Lutter). Vee Lawnhurst was interviewed by a friend of mine - years ago - and in the published article she said "Howard did everything" (at Licensee) and when asked about the rolls being different from her playing, she remarked "The idea was to make a better sounding roll", so she understood - as a pianist - what roll making was all about. [The article by Peter Mintun appeared in The AMICA Magazine in the '80s, as I recall, co authored by Frederick Hodges.]

  2. Let me know if my posting is approved.

    Of all the commercail arrangers Howard Lutter (under his name and many pseuodnyms) is my all-time favourite.

  3. Thank you for you input, Douglas, and thank you for helping to preserve these memories.

  4. Jody, That close up photo (presumably by Clifford) struck me as being perhaps Howard. There is an advertisement in the background that appears to have the name "Feist" on it. Leo. Feist was a major publisher in Tin Pan Alley, and Howard certainly would have used their publications during his arranging days. There were also a few small dance bands in Clifford's files, which also made me wonder if they included Howard. Since Clifford was a professional (commercial) photographer, it is likely he took photos for every kind of client imaginable. Therefore, the band photos may not have anything to do with Howard. The monogram "M" is on the band stands in one of the bands. You have done an amazing job researching and cataloguing these things and I congratulate you.

  5. Hi Jody , I just purchased the property of 171 Ampere Pkwy Bloomfield NJ where Howard lutter use to reside , I came across this blog while doing some research on the house . Super cool to know that such a talented musician lived here .

    1. Thanks for letting us know, Angela! Hope that this house becomes a warm home for you and your family.