Rights and Access - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
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American Instrumental Music - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
The collection includes many forms of instrumental music, primarily for piano. There is also much music for guitar, music for harp, music for organ, and a smaller amount of music for other instruments, including a mysterious instrument known as the aeolian piano, which is not the same as the twentieth-century player piano. There is also a small body of chamber music in the collection.
Composers from Abroad - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Two European performer-composers of the period had a profound influence on American music. The English baritone Henry Russell (1812-1900), who toured America from 1837 to 1841, influenced American songwriters through both his sentimental songs and his melodramatic scenas. Among the former were songs such as "Woodman! Spare that Tree" and "The Old Arm Chair," which started a rage for furniture songs. Russell's melodramatic songs...
Composers in Europe - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
American publishers also published the music of European composers who did not visit the United States. The publication of orchestral music of any kind, however, was still beyond the economic capability of American publishers. One interesting exception in this collection is the choral parts prepared for the American premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, which took place in New York in 1846. The instrumental parts...
Composers of Popular Song - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Most of the music for solo voice in this collection consists of popular songs, whether for stage or for parlor. The major figures in this field during the 1820-60 time period were Stephen Foster and George Frederick Root, who also published under the name Wurzel ("Wurzel" is the German for root). Another extremely successful songwriter of the period who appears under two names is...
Images of African Americans - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
One of the strongest influences on the coming of age of American popular music was the trend that began in the 1830s and picked up impetus in the 1840s towards portraying African-Americans. Although these depictions often speak in the first person, they were done by white songwriters, and there is a strong argument as to how much, if any, African-American musical style came through...
Love and Loss - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Most songs, however, were in some way about life in general, and about love in particular. This period saw the development of a unique type of popular song, a song about the death of a beautiful woman, usually the singer's beloved. During the 1840s, such songs were most often about African Americans--a tradition culminating in Stephen Foster's 1849 song Nelly was a Lady. During...
Musical Performers from Abroad - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
From 1820 to 1860, America hosted many European musicians whose sojourns affected American music and society. Some musicians, who arrived when they were relatively young and pursued their careers primarily in America, have been treated as American composers (see, for example, Charles Grobe, above). Others, who were temporary visitors, also had an impact on American culture.
National Expansion and Reform - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
California as it is, comic song by Thaddeus W. Meighan. The topic of territorial expansion generated many pieces. There is much material on the California Gold Rush and westward expansion. The former includes "The Dying Californian," a tune that later became a standard for folk hymnals. There is also material on Western migration, such as the Kansas-Nebraska dispute. One song covers "Manifest Destiny."
Operas - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Before 1820, American operas--like their British models were plays with spoken dialogue interspersed with musical numbers. During the period covered by this collection, however, American composers began to try their hands at opera in the Italian tradition, sung throughout without spoken dialogue.
Other Ethnic Material - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Three other ethnic groups are represented by a significant number of pieces: the Scots, the Irish, and Native Americans. Pieces representing Scots are typically pastoral folksongs. Images of the Irish are more complex--besides songs that champion independence for Ireland, there are comic songs and sentimental songs, many of the latter involving the separation of lovers when the man emigrates to America.
Patriotism and War - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
American history is reflected in this collection both in songs and in instrumental pieces such as marches and dances for the piano--hereafter treated interchangeably. Many pieces reflect patriotism. Some of these pieces are old favorites such as Yankee Doodle. Hail Columbia, The Star-Spangled Banner, and Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, There are new songs, of which the most successful was William Vincent Wallace's...
Political Campaigns - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Presidential elections, in later years the source of much campaign music, produced only a few pieces during these years. The only exception is William Henry Harrison's 1840 "Log-Cabin-and-Hard-Cider" campaign. No later campaign generated as many songs as Harrison's. There are no campaign songs for Harrison's opponent, Martin Van Buren, nor is there specific campaign music for presidents of the period 1830-40, although there are...
Sacred Music - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Important developments in American sacred music occurred during this period. Sacred works, which range from William Walker's Southern Harmony and the early editions of the Sacred Harp to Lowell Mason's reforms of New England psalmody and his early Sunday School collections (particularly The Juvenile Psalmist of 1829 and The Juvenile Lyre of 1830-31), were published as collections in small or oblong format. The formats...
Social Reform - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
The emergence of social reform movements was also the subject of musical composition. Temperance, a major issue in the years following the Civil War, inspires here only a moderate amount of music, some of it in jest. There are almost as many drinking songs as there are temperance songs, as well as a very occasional smoking song. Woman suffrage, on the other hand, is...
The Music's Lyricists - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
American composers during this period sometimes turned to important poets, both American and otherwise, for the words to their songs. Thomas Moore is probably the most famous poet widely represented in this collection, although there are also many pieces set to the poetry of Robert Burns, Lord Byron , Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. There also are a few pieces set to...
Vocal Music - Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820-1860
Most vocal music in this collection, whatever its original accompaniment, appears in the familiar voice-and-piano format. There is also much music for voice and guitar. Most music for voice and guitar is specifically described as having been arranged for this combination; among the most prolific of such arrangers is Charles Crozat Converse (1832-1918), remembered for his 1868 hymn-tune "Converse," the standard tune for "What...