Talented in-house arranger for Bennett and White company, who produced
88-note rolls on the Artempo label, and later on reproducing rolls for
Welte as the head of their popular music department. Following the
piano roll industry's decline, he went to work for Vitaphone in
California, producing sound effects for films.
Howard Harry Lutter was the son of a German immigrant, and studied
piano with Rafael Joseffy, the Hungarian pianist and composer. He is
mentioned in the autobiography of another Joseffy student, Moriz
Rosenthal - one of the titans of 20th century classical playing.
Lutter married twice and had two children from his first
marriage. His great grand-daughter is aware of his music roll-related
activities and owns many of his rolls.
Lutter's first career was as a clerk in the 1908-1910 period, but by
1910 he lists himself as a musician in the census and city
directories. The Artempo line of music rolls was established in
early 1914 and Lutter may have been present from the start. By the
time of the WWI draft in 1917, he stated on his WWI military draft card that he 'objected to all
forms of war and fighting' and applied for exemption on the grounds he
was indispensable to his employers, Bennett & White, as chief
recording artist for Artempo. He also noted he was of medium height
and build, had light brown hair and blue eyes.
Lutter was an integral part of
Artempo for the rest of the 1910s, featuring heavily in every
monthly bulletin, but left in 1920 and briefly joined Aeolian in the arranging department of their Melodee
subdivision. The September 25, 1920 Music Trades Review
states "..well-known as an arranger of music rolls...he has assumed
an important place in the arranging department of that company". He
did not stay for long, however, as by July 1921, Lutter had joined the
staff of the Republic Player Roll Company, and when they switched
their entire focus to producing reproducing rolls for the Welte
Licensee, he became the principle of the recording department,
popular music division, responsible for both working on editing
recordings by other pianists into the finished product as well as
releasing rolls performed by himself.
His rolls from the Welte period reach
new musical heights, being described as 'musically audacious' and
'thrilling' by collectors. They often feature instrumental
interludes quoting other popular tunes of the period before
returning to the original piece.
Following the decline of the music roll industry, he took a job for
Vitaphone, and lists himself as a radio worker throughout much of
the 1930s, changing to 'sound engineer' in 1938.
In the 1940 Census his occupation is given as 'janitor - temporary -
Newark Board of Education'. This is an odd change of job for such a
talented musician - his income is shown as $1445 per year which is
near the US average of $1368, but he also indicates he has income
from other sources - perhaps musical royalties. He also owns his
house which is valued at $5000, so is not in a bad position for a
nation emerging from the Depression. The 1941 Newark Directory
states he is a 'sound engineer and janitor's helper', which further
muddies the waters. Lutter's WW2 draft card (1942) lists the
Newark Board of Education as his employer.
Used many pseudonyms, in particular 'Stuart Gregory'. His rolls are
highly regarded by collectors for their musical value. Artempo
masters were also supplied to Australian roll companies Mastertouch
and Broadway under
license, some remaining in the catalogue until Mastertouch ceased
operations in 2005.