In the new book 200 Historical Jugglers Every Juggler Should Know, written by me and my brother Scott Cain, we took on the difficult challenge of choosing thirty jugglers to be part of a chapter called The Masters. Like all of the jugglers in our book, a juggler had to have started their juggling career by 1994, so many of today’s best performers and practitioners weren’t eligible for inclusion. When deciding who made The Masters list, we tried to consider their level of skill, refinement, influence, and success to set them apart from the rest, even if only by a small margin in some cases. You’ll see that these jugglers span over a century of careers, and come from all around the world. It was a difficult task, and many of the jugglers who just missed out on that list, such as Eva Vida, Gregory Popovich, Ursula Hill, and Jay Gilligan, deserve that title as well. However, you have to stop somewhere.
Scott recently made a timetable of when those thirty Masters were performing, and when they were retired, but living still. It was very interesting to note certain time periods when you could have seen a significant number of these jugglers perform, in conjunction with interviewing those that were retired. So, we decided to get into our pretend time machine and share with you what years we would travel to and who that would afford us the opportunity to see and/or meet.
1913 (same for 1912 – 1914)
In 1913, you could see the 8 earliest jugglers on our Masters list, all still performing. Imagine a year of travel around the world where you would see Cinquevalli, Kara, William Everhart, Salerno, Selma Braatz, Frank Le Dent, Howard Nichols, and a 17-year old Enrico Rastelli performing with his parents, just a few years prior to going out on his own as a solo performer. Read those names again. What a lineup!
1925 (same for 1923 – 1927)
By 1925, Cinquevalli had passed away, but the other 7 from 1913 were still performing. In addition, Massimiliano Truzzi, Felix Adanos, Bobby May, and Jenny Jaeger had now started their juggling careers. The loss of seeing Cinquevalli would be hard compared to 1913, but adding these 4 in addition to the other 7 would be quite the opportunity for a time traveler, or for an actual juggler or juggling enthusiast of 1925.
By 1948, Cinquevalli, Kara, Salerno, and Rastelli had all passed away. Two performers were now retired, but available to meet and interview – Selma Braatz and Frank Le Dent. The performers still available from 1925 were Everhart, Nichols, Truzzi, Adanos, May, and Jaeger. New ones now performing are Bela Kremo, Trixie, Alexander Kiss, Francis Brunn, Lottie Brunn, Rudy Cardenas, Bob Bramson, Rudy Horn, and Dieter Tasso. That’s 15, or half of the list of The Masters. This is only one of two years when 15 of The Masters were actively performing.
In 1960, Frank Le Dent and William Everhart were now deceased, but Selma Braatz was still alive (but retired), and Howard Nichols was now retired as well. This would be the last year for Truzzi and Jenny Jaeger to perform. And, you would now be able to see Ernest Montego and Alberto Sforzi perform.
With the loss of Everhart and Nichols from performing as compared to 1948, but adding Montego and Sforzi, we again have 15 of The Masters which one could see in a show during the year.
By 1981, Bela Kremo, Braatz, Nichols, and Truzzi were deceased. Retired, but still available to meet and talk with were May, Adanos, Jaeger, Trixie, Kiss, and Horn. All of the remaining Masters had started their careers by 1981. The new ones since 1960 are Evgeni Biljauer, Sergei Ignatov, Dick Franco, Kris Kremo, Michael Moschen, Albert Lucas, and Anthony Gatto. At the IJA Convention in 1981, Bobby May met and saw Anthony Gatto perform. May would pass away a few months later, but the passing of the torch had truly taken place. In 1981, you had fourteen performing Masters, plus six retired ones. That is the highest total of any year for combined performing and retired Masters.
Real Life Witnesses
We’ve been trying to determine who might have seen or met the highest number of these 30 Masters. Collector/historian Max Koch saw Cinquevalli and Rastelli perform, and likely most of the other early jugglers on the list, and passed away in 1961. It’s possible he saw the first twenty-three jugglers on the list, though probably not all of them.
Historians Karl-Heinz Ziethen and Hermann Sagemüller were born in the early 1940s, and both surely have around twenty or more from the list. Neither have a strong online presence, but we have asked those that see them to provide an exact count, which we will update here when obtained. The most verified from a current living juggler is Tommy Curtin, who has seen or met twenty of The Masters (with an opportunity to add another possibly, as he missed out on seeing Evgeni Biljauer at the 2002 IJA Reading festival).
However, the likely champion for meeting the most Masters was one of the Masters himself – Bobby May. May definitely met Kara, Salerno, and Rastelli, and was a contemporary of all of the other early jugglers. He sought out jugglers to see during his lifetime, and we know that he saw some of the more recent jugglers on the list such as Lucas, Franco, and Gatto. It’s difficult to imagine that May didn’t see or meet at least 25 of the jugglers on the list, and maybe more.
More Details Available
If you want to learn more about these 30 Masters, along with many other wonderful jugglers from the past, you can check out our book, 200 Historical Jugglers Every Juggler Should Know. Each of The Masters have several pages of information and photos to support their inclusion. Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.