Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sybla Ramus (1874-1963)

Musician, Playwright, Librettist, Musical Arranger, Teacher, Artist
Born October 3, 1874, probably or possibly in Chicago, Illinois
Died January 1963

Sybla Ramus was born on October 3, 1874, probably or possibly in Chicago, Illinois. Her parents were Charles Emil Ramus (1827-1891?) and Sybla Faulds Ramus (1844-1934), who were married in Chicago in 1871 (on Halloween). Charles E. Ramus was a native of Denmark and a veteran of the U.S Army. His wife, whose name was misspelled "Sybilla" and "Sylvia," was born in London, Ontario, Canada. The younger Sybla Ramus' brother was a prominent physician and surgeon, Dr. Carl Ramus (1872-1963), who served in Honolulu, Hawaii, and at Ellis Island in New York.

The Ramuses were a musical family. Carl played cello and maintained a string quartet while stationed in Hawaii. Sybla Ramus was a pupil of a Madame Rounseville of Chicago and gave a piano recital at the age of twelve. She also studied under Max Bendix (1866-1945) in Chicago; Arno Hilf (1858-1909) at the Royal Conservatorium of Leipzig; Otakar Ševčík (1852-1934) at the Prague Conservatory; and others. She played piano, violin, and viola, and was herself a teacher at the Chicago Musical College (ca. 1899) and the American Violin School, also in Chicago. Sybla Ramus played in St. James' Orchestra at St. James' Parish in Chicago. She also wrote the libretto for an opera, Armand, with a musical score by Gerard (or Gerardo) Carbonara (1886-1959), published in 1921. Her Girl Friend, a comedy drama in three acts, from 1923, was also a product of her pen. Her lone story for Weird Tales was the three-part serial "Coils of Darkness," printed in the issues of February, March, and April 1924. As a musician and a former Chicagoan, she may have been in contact with Farnsworth Wright, who was a music critic in Chicago, though not yet the editor of Weird Tales when her story was published.

In addition to Chicago, Sybla Ramus lived in Lincoln, New Mexico, with her mother and brother (1900), and in New York City with her mother (1915, 1920, 1925). She died in January 1963 at the age of eighty-eight.

Sybla Ramus' Story in Weird Tales
"Coils of Darkness" (three-part serial, Feb., Mar., and Apr. 1924)

Further Reading
  • "Dr. Carl Ramus (1872-1963) Physician and Surgeon," a biographical sketch of Sybla Ramus' brother, at the website of the National Park Service, Ellis Island, here.
  • Biographical highlights for Dr. Ramus at a website here.
Copyright 2017 Terence E. Hanley

No comments:

Post a Comment