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Collection Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1820 to 1860

Music Copyrighted in Federal District Courts, ca. 1820-1860

This installment of Music for the Nation contains music published in America, ca. 1820 to 1860, with the bulk of the material coming from the years 1834-57. (It does not contain all music published in America during these years: see this for a more precise description of the limits of this collection) The years 1820-60 represent a coming of age for American music, especially American popular song. The earliest extremely successful song in this collection, John Hill Hewitt's 1825 "The Minstrel Return'd from the War," appears here in the form of a set of variations by George Geib. This song is still indebted to the English models which had served for earlier American songs. By 1857, American song, exemplified by such songwriters as Stephen Foster, and George Frederick Root, had its own independent sound.

The mocking bird cotillons by Sep. Winner.

The years covered by this collection contain the songs and the instrumental pieces, both American and foreign, that Americans sang, played, and danced to. Many of the songs that originated during this period are still well known today. Besides the many Stephen Foster songs, other songs in this collection include There's Music in the Air, Jingle Bells, Listen to the Mocking Bird, Nelly Gray, Juanita, Kathleen Mavourneen, The Old Oaken Bucket (with its original words, Thomas Moore's "Araby's Daughter"), The Blue-Tail Fly, Long, Long Ago, Old Dan Tucker, The Arkansas Traveler, Sweet Betsy from Pike (in its original form as "Villikens and His Dinah"), Wait for the Wagon, and Pop! Goes the Weasel. In addition to providing materials for musicians to perform, this collection also gives music historians the opportunity to trace what music seemed important (or saleable), and social historians the opportunity to study how America's opinions and tastes were reflected in its music.