Above: A collage of cover images from the recently donated Marshall - Morrow Collection.
The Marshall - Morrow Collection
American Music, 1839 - 1870
an Exciting New Addition to the Parlor Songs Archives
We recently received a generous and most important donation of sheet music from the Marshall and Morrow famiies of Alexandria, Virginia. This unique donation included sheet music from the period 1839 to 1870 and includes some of the most incredible lithograph covers we've seen from that period. Over the next few issues we will be featuring music from the various decades and showcasing the music so generously donated to us by the Marshalls and Morrows. This donation has significantly expanded our collection into a period where we had few examples. In addition, much of the music is from important American composers whose works have rarely seen the light of day for over a century and a half.
The condition of the music is unbelievably good. Printed on heavy weight high rag content paper, many of the song sheets are undamaged and aside from some very little foxing with age, most are in near perfect condition. Several of the covers in the collection are full color lithographs of beautiful quality. Even those covers with "plain" titling are done in an ornate and beautiful manner so we think you are in for a special treat visually as well as musically. Many of these songs are unavailable in other collections and many are very rare so we are absolutely delighted and excited to present these important historical documents to you and are honored to have the privilege of preserving them for our collective future. Because the covers are so important, we also are adding the original cover art to our Scorch presentations so you can enjoy them in more detail than our thumbnail images allow. As a result, the Scorch files are much larger than usual so expect some delay in downloading. In some cases, the download file size exceeds 2mb so some will take quite some time depending on your type connection. The wait will be worth it!
The music has been in the Marshall family since it was first acquired by Mrs. Emira Wood of New York City. In the words of the Marshall family, here is the history of this important collection:
"Shirley Morrow Marshall, a young 88, received a collection of her grandmother’s music books many years ago. These bound volumes were referred to as the “German Music Books” because of the many German tunes and airs in them. But closer examination revealed a much richer collection of music pieces that had belonged to both grandmother Elmira Wood [Morrow] and to Elmira’s mother as well. Some pieces date to the early 1840’s. (actually late 1830's, ed.) Much later, probably in the 1870’s, Elmira had all her music collected together into six volumes and her name printed on the leather-bound covers.
Elmira Wood was part of a wealthy industrial-arts family in New York City. Her father and then her five brothers – she was the only girl – owned a silversmith company. Wood and Hughes was known for exquisite pieces of fancy silver, including serving spoons, small dishes and tableware. The more elaborate items had small birds or busts of women attached.
The music books were bound before Elmira was married and are indicative of the upper-middle class world in which she lived. Music was an important part of her home and social life, with fine instruments and music tutors for the dedicated.
Elmira married John Morrow, owner of a successful roofing and sheet metal business in New York City. His company roofed the well-known Flat Iron building, among others, and created fanciful metal snow guards in the shapes of animals. They even made a viking head!
In those days, the Wood and Morrow families summered at the beach in New Jersey and enjoyed riding in Central Park in the winter. Unfortunately, this life-style largely ended with financial losses in the 1920’s and ‘30’s. The family was left with some lovely silver pieces and great stories.
After Elmira passed away, her books went to her daughter-in-law [a wonderful piano player] and then to her granddaughter. But few of her descendants play the piano and still fewer are interested in these “old fashioned” pieces. Now, the Marshall and Morrow families have decided to donate five of the these books of 19th Century song sheets, so that people outside the family can find enjoyment in the musical history captured in their pages."
To preserve these pieces, Parlor Songs has laboriously and very carefully removed the individual sheets from the bindings, cataloged them and placed them in plastic sleeves in a temperature and humidity controlled environment. The books contained a total of 175 titles most of which we hope to eventually make available for viewing and listening on our site. It is our hope that these sheets will stand preserved for yet another century or more for the enjoyment of future generations. We are extremely honored to have been entrusted with this collection.
This feature will introduce the breadth of the collection to you (in October we published an article about music from the American Civil War featuring examples from this collection) by providing examples that span the years represented in the collection. Following this article, we plan on articles featuring songs from the decades of the 1840's, 50's and 60's.
If you are new to us, to enjoy the full musical experience, we
recommend that you get the Scorch plug in from our friends at Sibelius software.
The Scorch player allows you to not only listen to the music but to view the
sheet music as the music plays and see the lyrics as well. Each month we also
allow printing of some of the sheet music featured so for those of you who play
the piano (or other instruments) you'll be able to play the music yourself.
It's a complete musical experience! Get the Sibelius
Scorch player now.
Richard A. Reublin, December, 2008. This article published
December, 2008 and is Copyright © 2008 by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor
Songs Association, Inc. Text, images or music may not be reproduced in part
or in total without express written permission of the author or a company officer.
Near the Lake Where Drooped the Willow
Music by: Charles. E. Horn
Words by: Geo. P. Morris, Esq.
Cover art: Litho. by Crow, Thomas & Co.
In the 1830's, much of America's music was still grounded in the European tradition and a national identity for our music was yet to come. It would take the stimulus of composers such as Stephen Foster to begin creating our unique style of popular song. The year 1839 was one that was notable for the Amistad incident, where a group of slaves took over the ship transporting them. Charles Goodyear perfected the process of vulcanizing rubber making it a viable product and the first woman horse thief in America published her memoirs and on March 3 The New York Mirror printed some dinner conversation advice for gentlemen: "When you are seated next to a lady, you should be only polite during the 1st course; you may be gallant in the 2nd; but you must not be tender till the dessert."
The lithography for the cover is un-attributed and represents the typical ornate titling that was depicted on sheet music during the 19th century. The expense of lithography art work was often reserved for the most popular songs or those that a given publisher felt compelled to illustrate. The majority of music during this period was the fancy titled lithography as depicted on this sheet. It should be noted that the cover states "Sung with distinguished applause by Mrs. C. E. Horn" who is presumed to be the wife of the composer, Charles E. Horn.
The music is a simple and tender ballad, through composed with but one verse and no discernable chorus as would later emerge as standard construction for popular songs. The melody is simple with a very pleasant minimal accompaniment. The one feature worth separate mention is the use of sung triplets or ornaments at the end of each phrase.
This song was in fact
written by an English composer (Horn) who wrote a number of individual works for his wife as well as at least one Oratorio, Daniel's Prediction (1847) that included her as a member of the cast. Horn and his wife appeared at the New National Opera House in New York in 1840 staging a production of his romantic opera, Ahmal al Kamel, the Pilgrim of Love. Mr. Horn was billed as the musical director and a critic who attended stated that the opera was "tedious beyond endurance and sent away all who waited till its conclusion weary and exhausted." That is hardly a critique that would draw in an audience for the next performance!
HORN, Charles Edward, born in London, England, in 1776; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 10 June, 1848. He was educated by his father, a well known German musician, and in 1809 made his debut as a vocalist at the English opera house in London. He studied under several noted instructors, and emerged in 1814 in London as an opera singer. He appeared in most of the large play houses and music halls of Great Britain and Ireland, both as a vocalist, conductor of music, and composer and during that time wrote many songs, some of which became widely popular. Among them are The Deep, Deep Sea, Even as the Sun, Cherry Ripe, and I've been Roaming. He first came to America in 1827 and sang in a number of major operas in New York then traveled around the country performing. He returned to London in 1832 where he opened a music store as his voice had failed him by then. Sometime before his death, he and his wife returned to America where she performed many of his compositions and he closed his career in Boston as a teacher of music and conductor of the Handel and Haydn society.
Hear this tender parlor song (Scorch format, be patient, very large file size, this sheet music is printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Listen to MIDI version
Lament of the Irish Emigrant, The
Music by: William R. Dempster
Words by : Mrs Price Blackwood
Cover art: Litho. unknown
1843 was a year that saw the American West become a promised land for many people. In May the first major wagon train headed for the American Northwest set out with one thousand pioneers from Elm Grove, Missouri on the Oregon Trail. This year also saw the birth of the Minstrel show when the Virginia Minstrels performed the first minstrel show at the Bowery Amphitheater, New York City. Ulysses S. Grant graduated from the U. S. Military Academy and the first commercial Christmas cards were published (in London.). America in general had become a haven for many emigrants and among them and perhaps the most prevalent being the Irish. Between 1815 and 1845, nearly a million Irish, including a large number of unemployed Catholics, came to the United States. The men went to work providing the backbreaking labor needed to build canals, roads and railways in the rapidly expanding country. Irish pick-and-shovel workers proved to be very hard-working and were in great demand. American contractors often placed advertisements in newspapers in Dublin, Cork and Belfast before beginning big construction projects. The massive Erie Canal project, for example, was built by scores of Irishmen working from dawn till dusk for a dollar-a-day, hand-digging their way westward through the rugged wilderness of upstate New York. In 1845 the Irish potato famine forced millions more to leave their native land just to survive.
In general, as was the case with most emigrants, the Irish were not looked on favorably and resented by many Americans (even though most of them at this time were no doubt emigrants as well!) and the most menial jobs were reserved for them.
It is somewhat surprising to find this piece of music so favorable towards the Irish at that time. It is a grand and long piece that goes on for nine pages and tells the tale of the personal tragedy of one such emigrant who leaves his wife and child behind in Ireland in a church cemetery plot. The narrative on the title page explains the song as: "Portraying the feelings of an Irish peasant previous to his leaving home, calling up the scenes of his youth under the painful reflection of having buried his wife and child, and what his feelings will be in America."
Given the subject, for the most part the music is bright and somewhat joyous as he reflects on his country and boyhood. The melody sounds a bit o' the Irish to my ear and may have been based on an Irish melody. The section during which he reflects on the loss of his wife and child is slower and more somber but then we return to the brighter side till a final thought of "Mary." The song includes eight verses, to see them all either view the music with the Scorch plug-in or click on the lyrics link below. If one were to sing all eight verses, I think it would become quite tedious.
The poetry, or lyrics for this song were written by an accomplished poet and writer.
Helen Selina Sheridan, (Mrs. Blackwood) (1807–1867), was a British song-writer, composer, poet, and author. As well as being admired for her wit and literary talents, she was a fashionable beauty and a well-known figure in London society of the mid-19th century.At seventeen, Helen was engaged to Commander Price Blackwood, the future Lord Dufferin, although his parents wanted him to marry more advantageously. After their London wedding in 1825 they went to live in Florence, but returned two years later with their baby son Frederick. From childhood Helen had written poems, songs and prologues for private theatrical productions. After she and Caroline jointly brought out a Set of ten Songs and two Duets, she started to publish her verse, sometimes set to her own music. Her name was not usually printed at first, but she did not stay entirely anonymous. Her most famous song is the The Irish Emigrant however she wrote many more including; They bid me forget thee and Miss Myrtle, the Charming Woman.
William Richardson Dempster (1809-1871) I've not found so much information about Dempster. He was a very popular performer cited as a "popular singer of Scottish ballads" who did live in Scotland on at least two occasions. Despite the lack of biographical information, he composed quite a few songs including; The Blind Boy (1842),
I'm Alone, All Alone, The May Queen, Let Us Love One Another and of course, the Irish Emigrant. One of his works, Cheer Boys, Cheer! was recorded by the American Brass Quintet in 2005.
Hear this famous ballad
(Scorch format, be patient, long load time)
listen to MIDI version
Music by: Unknown, "From a Popular Air"
Words by: Jesse Hutchinson, Jr.
Cover art: Litho. A. Halbert
The Hutchinson family was one of the first major family ensembles in America. Described by many as the first singers of "protest" songs, they were well known for their songs that encouraged social change. A book published in 1874, A Brief Narrative of the Hutchinson Family describes the "progenitors" of the family, Jesse and Mary Hutchinson as "Farmers by profession, musicians by 'incident,' the father possessing a rare baritone, the mother a sweet and mellow contralto voice. The father with a strong physical constitution, the mother with a decisive nervous organization. Inured to the active duties of farm life, the development of their physical nature was enhanced by the constant exercise of vocal music." The Hutchinsons bore 16 sons and daughters many of whom joined the troupe as the group performed professionally. As with many families during those tough times, a number of the children did not survive childhood. When the elder Jesse died in the early 1840's, Jesse Jr. took control of the group. Their first public performance was in in Milford, New Hampshire, in 1840 and they toured extensively in the New England area till their first New York concert in 1843.
The family was known to use their music to further various social causes. At the urging of Jesse Hutchinson, the group took up various causes. Among these were abolitionism, temperance, and women's rights. In December 1842, John Hutchinson signed a petition affiliated with an abolitionist rally in Milford. By the following year, the Hutchinsons had become vocal abolitionists. Asa Hutchinson wrote,
About this time  an antislavery convention was held in Milford attended by Wm. Lloyd Garrison. . . . The custom at once enlisted the sympathies of the young men. Accustomed to roam at freedom among their own Hills, they abhorred slavery and pitied the slave. More than this they nobly resolved to exert their influence on behalf of the captives. To this end they prepared and sang antislavery songs.
They traveled with Frederick Douglass in England in 1845 and stayed for almost a year. Original songs such as Get Off the Track!, Right over Wrong, and The Slave's Appeal addressed these issues. Abby Hutchinson wrote Song of Our Mountain Home in 1850. It includes the line, "Among our free hills are true hearts and brave, The air of our mountains ne'er breathed on a slave." The Hutchinsons were true pioneers in the use of music for political purposes though today they are largely forgotten. (Some information provided is from Wikipedia. Photo of the Hutchinson family from Amaranth Publishing)
By comparison to the songs described above, The Seasons is rather benign. Stated to have its origins in a "popular air.' I've not been able to identify the source, perhaps a reader with a sharp ear can identify it for us. Indeed one of our (many) sharp eared and knowledgeable visitors, Vivian Williams recently wrote to us to inform us that the melody for this song is from a minstrel tune, Boatman's Dance by Dan Emmett published a mere three years earlier in 1843. That song appeared in a number of editions as either an "Ethiopian Sereneade" or "African Quadrille" in the 1843-45 time period. In 1950 the American composer Aaron Copeland included it in his first set of "Old American Songs." That version was first performed by Peter Pears (tenor) and Benjamin Britten (piano) on June 17, 1950 at Aldeburgh, in Suffolk, East Anglia, England.
The cover information on the cover is somewhat typical of the times in that it is full of hyperbole and becomes an ad for the song itself. Though mostly filled with ornate text in a number of fonts, this sheet does have artwork that depicts the four seasons as a group of cherubs in differing poses that illustrate the season they represent. The smaller picture of the cover above shows little detail however the Scorch version shows the cover in larger detail so listening to and watching the music in the Scorch version will give you a better view. The cover states: "A Farmer's song arranged as a quartett as performed by the Hutchinson Family in New York City & State and throughout New England generally with universal acceptance." The bit of hedging on the "general acceptance" is interesting. It either acknowledges their controversial nature or is a rare admittance that not everyone appreciated their music. It is a unique admittance of reality in an otherwise inflated performing world.
The song is simple and not particularly memorable, the lyrics come in a heaping helping of 9 verses and choruses which, as with the Irish Lament, may have taxed the listeners to the limit. Combined with a rather short and uncomplicated musical theme, the repetitiveness could be the reason for the "generally accepted" line! We've only provided three of the verses in our lyrics and Scorch windows. If someone is interested in all of them, just drop us a line. Much of the music from this period included choruses for voice, in some cases, we've tried to present the Scorch versions with the MIDI approximation of singing so that you can appreciate the vocal harmonies as written.
Listen to and watch
the score ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, long load time)
Listen to MIDI version
Music by: J. T. Martin
Cover art: Litho. by A. Hoen & Company
Throughout the history of popular music in America (and elsewhere) the military march has found a solid place in the parlors of the homes. During war-times, marches become more popular but it does not always take a war to make a march popular. This piece is however, written in homage to an American war hero, General Persifore F. Smith. The cover of the piece is quite complex with a number of military images and scenery from the locale of Smith's heroic (according to the music) actions during the battle of Contreras August 19, 1847 during the The U.S.-Mexican War of 1846-1848. The lithographer for this cover (A. Hoen) is by the same lithographer who later created the famous and beautiful color lithographs for the music of E. T. Paull in the 1890s and 1900s. Be sure to view the Scorch version of this piece to appreciate the excellent cover art.
Smith commanded a group at Contreras and though this music is dedicated to his "heroism" he gets little mention in histories of the battle. Most mentioned are the later famous generals Winfield Scott and
Franklin Pierce (later President of the U.S.). Around the time of the battle, Smith was commander of the Fifth Military Department (Texas). At Contreras, Smith commanded a group that reinforced a beleaguered regiment at San Geronimo. Finding a gap in the Mexican defense through a ravine, Smith proposed a daring plan to attack before daybreak with bayonets only. Requesting a diversion from Scott to attack Mexican General Valencia's front, the troops were roused at midnight and began their move at three AM. Rain, slippery clay and obstacles in the ravine prevented the unit from reaching the Mexican before dawn firearms rather than bayonets were readied and in a period of seventeen minutes (according to Smith) the Mexican army was routed and retreated in surprised confusion.
On to the music. The composer is listed on the cover as J. T. Martin however on the inside front page of the music the listing is for "T. J." Martin. I've found nothing about the composer, the lack of a full name can significantly interfere with research. The music is nothing particularly memorable but has its moments. The opening (main) theme is a little tedious and is followed by a short transitional passage leading to the third theme which is one of those moments. This third theme is in my opinion the best of the entire piece. Followed by a "salutation" (a repeat of the second or transitional theme) the first theme is repeated after that in a simpler mode and actually is much more pleasant at this stage. Showing some delicacy with a few ornaments, I enjoyed the recapitulation more so than the exposition of the theme at the start. Regardless, the piece is an important historical document related to America's music as well as the Mexican War.
Hear and see the score
to this heroic march (Scorch format, be patient for images to load)
Listen to MIDI version
(This work has no lyrics)
Dearest Spot on Earth to Me is Home, The
Undated, ca. 1850
Words and Music by: William Thomas Wrighton
Cover art: Litho. by J. H. Bufford
It was not unusual for many issues of sheet music to be undated during this era. Copyright laws were ill defined and little protection was afforded composers or publishers. Early laws only afforded the composer 14 years of protection and over time, through various court cases and challenges, the time for protection was extended to 28 years with provisions for a 14 year extension in 1831. Amazingly, that time period stood with only;y a revision of the extension time to 28 years till 1976 when copyrights were extended to 75 years. That stood till recently when copyrights were extended beyond 100 years thus preventing the flow of music into the public domain till 2018 or beyond. Digressing, since copyrights were often violated and the time period was short, it seems possible that many songs were undated to obscure the exact date of publication. In addition, they may have simply not seen the importance at that time. It was during this era that Stephen Foster found many of his works stolen and himself sold his own rights to many of his songs for short term gains which he later regretted.
Many of the songs in the collection are undated but we do know that they were largely collected between 1840 and 1870. I believe this work to be from the late1840 period to mid 1850s. Though most copies of this work in other collections are undated, other editions, probably later ones, are dated beginning 1855. The lithograph on the cover gives us a wonderful snapshot of clothing and home decor during that period. Be sure to view and listen to the song using the Scorch version so as to see the detail of the cover. The music is one of the most pleasant songs in this feature. It has a very nice melody and lyrics that are meaningful.
Wrighton, W. T. (William Thomas), 1816-1880
I've found little about Wrighton but it appears he was a native of England and we do know he wrote quite a few songs including "The Dearest Spot." Other songs attributed to him are; Bright Star of Eve, Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still (1870), The Postman's Knock, O Chide Not My Heart and many others. There is some artwork also attributed to Wrighton however I cannot confirm this aspect of his talents. According to one source, Wrighton also died in England so his stay in America may have been brief, if ever.
Listen and view this very nice song ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, be patient, long load time due to graphics)
Listen to MIDI version
Words and Music by: Stephen S. Foster
Cover art: Litho. Sarony & Co.
No view of music this period in history is complete without the songs of Stephen C. Foster and the Marshall - Morrow collection has several wonderful originals by Foster and several are songs that are lesser known today. This song is one that rarely sees the light of day and for me is one of the "discoveries of the month." The cover art by Sarony is nothing short of outstanding with a central image of "Ellen Bayne" surrounded by four vignettes representing other songs by Foster. Depicted are (top left, clockwise) Old Dog Tray, My Old Kentucky Home, Old Memories and Little Ella, the last two also being two of the more obscure Foster songs.
The cover also states "Sung by Edwin P. Christy." Christy was one of the fellows who purchased rights to some of Foster's songs and published them as his own, with no mention of Foster. As with the other songs this month, be sure to use the Scorch version to see the artwork in more detail. The music is wonderful with three verses and chorus. Foster did much to begin defining American popular song and this is one that would fit as well today as it did 150 years ago. Strophic in form, the verse tells the story and the chorus gives us a fitting ending. The accompaniment is in the older style with the ostinato chords in strict 4/4 time keeping the beat to the melody. At the end of the verse Foster adds some variety to what could otherwise develop into a boring accompaniment. In many respects, this song is a hybrid spanning the continental tradition and the development of a unique American musical style.
C. Foster ( b. 1826, Lawrenceville, PA -d. 1864,
New York, NY )
One of the first of America's great early songwriters. Despite showing a talent and
enthusiasm for music while still a young child, Foster received no formal training.
He taught himself the flute, a rather difficult instrument to "self teach."
His deepest musical influence, as a child, was hearing the Negro spirituals
when a household servant would take him to a Negro church whenever his parents
were away. He attended high school years were spent at Athens Academy at Tioga
Point, PA. While there, in 1841 he composed his first song, "Tioga Waltz"
which was performed by the school band. Upon graduation, Foster enrolled in
Jefferson College, at Canonsburg, PA. It was to be a short enrollment. Foster
had absolutely no interest in higher education, and spent all of his time loafing
about, composing tunes, day-dreaming, and playing his flute. Just a few days
after his enrollment, he left the college, his academic training ended. After
this, he was to devote his full time to composing music.
In 1844, Foster's first song Open Thy Lattice, Love was published, with
lyric by George F. Morris. At this time, Foster was holding small gatherings,
in his home, of some young friends. He composed several songs for presentation
at these informal meetings. Among these songs, were: Old Uncle Ned, Oh, Susannah!, and Lou'siana Belle. Around 1846, Foster moved to
Cincinnati, and began working for his brother's commission house, as a bookkeeper.
Foster interested a Cincinnati music publisher who paid nothing for some of
his songs and gave Foster a mere $100 for the rights to Oh, Susannah! which
went on to become one of America's most popular songs and lead to Foster's loss
of untold income. Copyright law at that time was virtually nonexistent and songwriters
were often taken advantage of. Though he managed to make a good living from his
music, he lost the equivalent of millions through his own mismanagement and
predatory publishers who took advantage of him.
In his prime, Foster wrote so many lasting American hits that his enduring
output has eclipsed virtually every other composer from that period. As well,
his music was so different (compare this work and his others to Ho For The
Kansas Plains for a stark contrast) that he set the nations music on a completely
new course. His 1848 Oh, Susannah!, is almost as well known today as
when he wrote it.
After Foster quit as bookkeeper and moved to Pittsburgh, PA. be met the famous
black face minstrel show owner, Ed Christy. Christy began using Foster's songs
in his own Minstrel Show, oft-times listing himself as the composer. But times
were changing for Foster. He received a contract from a New York Publisher who
offered him Royalty Payments in lieu of an outright purchase. Some of the benchmarks
of his career are; 1850 Camptown Races 1851 Old Folks At Home,
aka "Swanee River". Foster had never seen the Swanee river when writing
this song he wanted to use a river name in the tune. He originally thought of
the Pedee river. Looking at a Florida map, he noticed the Suwanee River, and
altered the name for the Swanee sounded much better. Can you imagine singing,
"way down upon the Pedee river?" Minstrel Ed Christy paid Foster $15.00
for the privilege of introducing the song, and to allow him to place his name
on the music as composer, but with all royalties from the sheet music sales
going to Foster. Inside of 6 months, Foster had earned royalties of over $1500.00.
Foster, realizing the error of allowing someone else's name to appear on the
sheet music as composer, wrote to Ed Christy. "Therefore, I have concluded
to reinstate my name on my songs and to pursue the Ethiopian business without
fear of shame and lend all my energies to making the business live, at the same
time that I will wish to establish my name as the best Ethiopian writer."
In pursuit of his goal to become the greatest "Ethiopian" songwriter,
Foster composed: 1852 Massa's In De Cold, Cold, Ground and in 1853 My Old Kentucky
Home. Both were great hits, earning him combined royalties of over $2000.00.
On July 22, 1850, Foster married Jane Denny McDowell. (She was the person who
later inspired the ballad "Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair".) It
was to become an unhappy home. Jane was a hard-nosed, practical, devout Methodist.
She had no use for his friends, his drinking, his music, and his association
with the theater. Still, despite his home life, Foster continued writing. Among
his songs written during this period are
Old Dog Tray (1853), Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair (1854), Ellen Bayne (1854),
Hard Times Come Again No More (1854), Willie, We Have Missed You (1854)
Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming (1855), Gentle Annie (1856) and Old Black Joe in 1860, his last Negro song.
Unfortunately, the tide began to turn for Foster. In 1860, he took his wife
and daughter to New York City, where he found despair and frustration. His type
of song was falling out of public favor, and he was forced to write lesser material
to keep his home together. Shunned by the public and by his publishers, he often
didn't have the price of a decent meal. He lived in poor surroundings in the
Bowery section of New York. When his family left him, - they returned to Pittsburgh,
his moral and physical disintegration became complete. He sought refuge in alcohol,
living in an inebriated stupor for long periods of time.
One day he collapsed while at his wash basin. Discovered, bleeding, by the
chambermaid, he was taken to Bellevue Hospital, where he died on Jan. 13, 1864.
In his pockets, they found a a slip of paper on which had been written, "Dear
friends and gentle hearts", - possibly the title of a new song, and three
cents. He was 38 years old.
(Adapted from Foster biography at the Tunesmiths Database at http://nfo.net/.CAL/index.html and on a biography of Foster in Popular American Composers by Ewen, see
our bibliography for
Listen to this wonderful Foster song (Scorch format, be patient, long load time due to graphics)
Listen to MIDI version
Atlantic Telegraph Schottisch, The
Music by: Henry Kleber
Cover art: Litho. Sarony, Major & Knapp
We now come to one of two very unique and special covers, this one commemorating the first attempt to lay a telegraph cable across the Atlantic ocean from Newfoundland to Ireland in 1857. A landmark achievement, the laying of a cable across the Atlantic established instant communication with Europe thus shortening the communication time from weeks by ship to immediate. Unfortunately, commemorating the event in 1857 was just a few months too soon as the 1857 attempt failed and it was only later in 1858 that a cable made a connection. Even then, that cable failed and it would take seven more attempts before a lasting connection was made in 1866. The cover of this piece is exceptional and as with the others this month, I urge you to use the Scorch version (and download the plug-in if you don't already have it) to fully appreciate the details of the lithograph. The main panel shows the the converted warships HMS Agamemnon and USS Niagara that were used to lay the first cable. The cable was started at the white strand near Ballycarbery Castle County Kerry,
and ended at Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. The scenery depicted may be the arrival at Trinity Bay but I am not sure. Perhaps someone from Ireland or Newfoundland can confirm for us the location depicted. The smaller panels above depict other aspects of the project including the cable laying device. Across the top of the main panel are arrayed the shields and flags of America and England.
The music is a piano solo work in the form of the Schottisch dance. The Schottisch was a very popular ballroom dance in 2/4 time very similar to a polka which was also very popular during that era. In fact, the collection includes quite a few polkas and schottisches. The dance form was introduced in England in 1848 so in this period it was at the peak of its popularity. As a standard country dance in the United States, schottische performance followed two short runs and a hop followed by four turning hop steps: step step step hop, step step step hop, step hop step hop step hop step hop.
Steps alternate one foot to the other, hops are only on one foot, so the leader's footwork would be: left right left hop on left, right left right hop on right, step on left hop on left, step on right hop on right, step on left hop on left, step on right hop on right. With all that hopping, one would feel a bit like a wascaly wabbit by the end of the dance!
The music is joyful and pretty "hoppy" in its own right. Use of plenty of ornaments to add interest, the melodies are energetic and dancing to this tune must have been great fun. At the same time, some of the passages show a certain bit of delicacy. The overall scoring is relatively simple but shows a great deal of sophistication giving the impression of something much more complex. This is a pure delight and is one of my favorites from this issue. Yet another "discovery" that has been hidden away for over 150 years.
Henry Kleber (1816 - 1897) There is some evidence that Stephen Foster had instruction in music from Henry Kleber, a concert artist, piano teacher and music dealer of Pittsburgh. It was Kleber who brought the first upright pianos to Pittsburgh in 1849, one of which was purchased by Mary Woods, in whose home Stephen Foster often played. Beyond that bit of information found on-line, there is no mention of Kleber in any of my references but did find his obituary published in The Pittsburgh Bulletin, 27 February 1897 which said: "He was born in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1816, coming to this city when a child, and at an early age manifesting his talents as a musician, teacher and composer. In 1845, with his brother, the late Augustus Kleber, he established the firm of H. Kleber & Bro., which, for half a century, has enjoyed a prosperous career. In the necessarily brief limits of this notice, an extended review of the worth and works of Henry Kleber cannot be given." In addition to The Atlantic Telegraph other works by Kleber include; I Am Coming, I Am Coming (1868), Meet Me March (1854) and Unfurl the Glorious Banner (1856). His most popular Schottisch was The Rainbow Schottisch which first appeared in 1852 and was issued in 120 editions. Kleber also wrote a funeral march on the occasion of the death of President Garfield who was assassinated in 1881.
Listen to this joyful dance (Scorch plug-in, be patient, long load due to graphics)
Listen to MIDI version
(There are no lyrics for this work)
Music by: J. R. Thomas
Words by: W. W. Fosdick, Esq.
Cover art: Litho. Sarony, Major & Knapp
Over the ages, lovely women have been regular subjects of music and with the advent of illustrated sheet music, have often graced the covers with their image. Sometimes the song was about a real person, other times a fanciful creation of the composer and songwriter. We do not know if the Annie Law depicted here on the cover and in the song was someone important to the songwriters or one of those flights of fancy. What I do know though is that in 1857 there was an Annie Law who would have been fifteen at the time of this song. Annie Elizabeth Law came to America from England in 1850 and was a teacher and later in life was one of the successful female spys during the Civil War. I've not been able to verify which side she spied for. Here is an actual photo of her, could this be the Annie Law on the cover? Though the photo is of a woman much older, there are some similarities.
The music is a sweet ballad that sings the praises of Annie. It is simply written with the common structured chords in strict time with the beats. In that regard it would have been fairly easy for less accomplished home pianists. The "mignonette" mentioned in the lyrics could have been a comparison to a fragrant Mediterranean plant of the same name. Not a terribly memorable song, but nice and would have made for a pleasant parlor song on a dreary day.
I've found no biographical information about W. W. Fosdick or J. R. Thomas but other titles they wrote are extant in some of the other collections around the country. Fosdick is credited with the lyrics for Aura Lea (1861), Bright Star of Love, Shine On (1859) and Katie Strang (1856). Thomas is credited with composing
Not Lost Forever (1874), Home is Home (1862), Happy Be Thy Dreams (1859), Beautiful Isle of the Sea (1865) and several hundred other titles.
Listen to and watch
the music play ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Listen to MIDI version
Words and Music by: H. (Harrison) Millard
Cover art: Litho. Sarony, Major & Knapp
Patriotic songs have always been favorites at home, school and in public gatherings, perhaps only till recently where patriotism seems to be "not cool." The emergence of patriotic songs always surges at times of war or impending threats to a nation. Perhaps that is why, as America was on the slippery slope towards civil war, this song was written and published in 1859. It is strange though that the title is in the French form rather than English. Either the composer was trying to make sales overseas or attempting to make the song more "continental," in either event we can only speculate.
The cover image includes a number of patriotic symbols important to America; the Eagle, flag and coat of arms are standard patriotic symbols. However, the image also includes military items, again presaging the conflict to come. A rucksack, sabers, drum, bugles and cannon balls are arrayed along the bottom of the image. The array of flags behind the American flags may also represent battle flags however not enough of them is visible to establish that.
The music is quite good. The piece begins with an introductory passage marked "marziale" that is akin to a bugle call to attention. The primary melody is stated in the introduction then the song begins. The lyrics place a great deal of emphasis on the concept of "United we stand and divided we fall" which was an important concept stated by Lincoln at the onset of the war on the occasion of his selection as a candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1858. In that famous speech Lincoln said:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free."
Those lines resonated across the country and the "United we stand" phrase became a permanent part of our political philosophy to this day.
Obviously, they resonated with the writer of this song and it may be the first published use of that phrase in music. As you watch the song play in the Scorch format, pay close attention to the lyrics as they do seem to portend the great conflict that would follow in just a few months.
Harrison Millard (1829 - 1895)
Son of Samuel and Maria (Ham) MIllard born in Boston. As a boy he sang in church choirs and is chorus with musical societies. He was the first boy alto soloist that sang with the Boston Handel & Hayden Society. In his twenty-second year he went to Europe for musical study, spending nearly three years in Italy and appeared as a concert singer in several parts of England. In 1854 Mr. Millard returned to Boston, and after two years located in New York city as a teacher of vocal music, concert singer and song composer. During the Civil War he served as lieutenant of volunteers and was wounded in battle. As a private in the 71st regiment of New York he created a sensation by singing his "Viva L'America" at a social gathering in Washington, composed chiefly of southerners, Lincoln hearing of the incident, sent for him and commissioned him as lieutenant of the 19th U.S. infantry: he was afterward on Rousseau's and Rosecran's staffs. He composed a grand opera called "Deborah," four masses and a requiem mass, about three hundred songs and wrote many of the words of his songs. He was married to Laura Thompson of Baltimore in 1860. She died in 1874 leaving four children. Mr. Millard was never married again. In 1864 he became connected with the custom house in New York city and devoted his leisure time to the composition of secular songs and church music. His "Waiting," "When the Tide Comes in," "Under the Daisies," "Ramona" and "Viva L'America, Land of the Free" are of uncommon merit, and have many admirers. Many place Mr. Millard at the head of American song composers. (From the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, 1897 James T. White & Co, NY)
Listen to and watch
the music play (Scorch format, allow time for download)
Listen to MIDI version
Sally Come Up
Music by E. W. Mackney
Words by T. Ramsey
This copy Arr. Frederick Buckley
Cover art: Litho. Prang & Co.
As mentioned in our first song, 1839 marked the first performance of a Minstrel show. By 1862 Minstrelsy was a huge part of the entertainment world and many groups had been organized. Buckley's Serenaders was an American black face minstrel troupe, headed by James Buckley. They were an influential troupe in the United States; while they toured England from 1846 to 1848, their absence allowed Edwin Christy's troupe to gain popularity and influence the development of the minstrel genre. Back in the States, the Buckleys became one of the two most popular companies from the mid-1850s to the 1860s (the other being the Christy and Wood Minstrels).
(from Wikipedia). Dave Reed, the rather sloppy gent depicted
on the cover was one of the most adored minstrel singers and he performed for Buckley as well as Christy. His primary character was "Bones" which he first introduced with Christy's. An article in the New York Times on the occasion of his death in 1912 stated; "Dave Reed as the "bones" of Bryant's Minstrels was an idol of us youngsters of those days. Dave could thrill our youthful souls and when on invitation from that soberly centered personage, the "interlocutor," he would proceed to relate his experiences during a visit to relatives in the country, our satisfaction was complete." Reed's son, Dave Reed Jr. became a songwriter of note during the early 20th century.
This song is one that has often been claimed by others without credit to the original songwriters. Most editions in fact never mention them as is the case with this version. It first appeared around 1859. It was very popular and over time, evolved into other forms. I must warn you now, the lyrics of this song are quite offensive in today's environment and we present them unedited as an historic document. Unfortunately, Minstrel shows of that era were offensive although at the time it was seen as all in good fun. The lyrics were intended to be amusing and they were seen to be that at the time however few would find them amusing today. The song arrangement Buckley has passed down to us is rather simple and uncomplicated. The verse is a bit catchy but the chorus, "Sally come up" is the most memorable melodic theme of the piece. The chorus melody has survived but in different lyrical form. The song made for a handy foundation for parody and many were written over the ensuing decades.
Minstrelsy became popular in England as well as the U. S. and the composer E. W. Mackney was an Englishman who also performed black face in English music halls. He wrote a number of Minstrel related songs. In 1860 Mackney was billed as "the original black-face comedian" at the newly opened Weston's Hall.
Listen to and watch
the music play ( Scorch version, be patient for graphics to load)
Listen to MIDI version
Ruck - Ruck - Galop
Music by: F. B. Helmsmüller.
Cover art: Litho. Major & Knapp.
As the Marshall's explained, many of the pieces in the collection were known as "German" and this beautifully covered piece is one of them.
As with the Schottische, the Galop was a continental dance form that was imported to America as a part of the folk dance fad of the mid 19th century. The country of origin of the Galop is in doubt with some claiming Hungary as its birthplace and others saying it was born in Germany. The Galop is said to be a precursor of the Polka (which also was wildly popular here) and is said to be named after the horse's galop. Most correctly, the dance was originally called the galoppaide, later shortened to galop. The steps are imitative of the horses gait thus the connection. The galop was particularly popular as the final dance of the evening. The Post horn Galop written by the cornet virtuoso Herman Koenig was first performed in London, 1844; the Galop remains a signal that the dancing at a hunt ball or wedding reception is ended.
The cover of this piece is beautifully colored and the colors are still vivid today after 143 years. Color lithographs on sheet music during this era were few and far between and were more expensive than "standard" one color lithographs. Most music of the period sod for from 25 cents to 50 cents per copy, a handsome sum back then. This particular color sheet sold for 60 cents, nearly 1/3 the average day's wages of $1.96 in 1865. The song begins with a bold introduction followed by a quiet "cantabile" section marked andante. Then the Galop actually begins with a flourish. The melody is infectious and you can just imagine the couples galloping across the floor. A transition to the trio follows played delicately and pianissimo. The trio is a nice interlude that gives the dancers a slight respite from the galop but then we return to the main galop theme for the conclusion. It is a breathtaking piece, very classical and well written. This piece is yet another "discovery" from the past.
F. B. Helmsmüller, see next item.
Listen to and watch
the music play ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)
Listen to MIDI version
(There are no lyrics for this work)
Words and Music by: F. B. Helmsmüller.
Cover art: Litho. Major & Knapp
As s our final example from this collection I chose this most original and unique cover, the second of the two most unique covers I mentioned previously. It is another galop by Helmsmüller, published the same year as "Ruck - Ruck." The same lithographers created the cover and it is a splendid example of creativity. In 1865 the oil industry was shall we say, gushing, and the black gold was needed to fuel the industrial development of the country. It had only been a few years since the very first drilled oil well was established in Pennsylvania (1859) and by 1865 oil production in the U. S. was well over 4 million barrels per day. Writing a galop dedicated to the industry is interesting but making the cover appear to be a share of stock in an oil company was sure to sell the sheet music. After all, who would not want a share of stock prominently displayed in their parlor? The design is very realistic and ornate. Clearly, with "Ruck - Ruck" and this piece, Helmsmüller was not only a talented composer but a clever marketer as well.
A rather humorous aside to this cover is that it seems many modern day folks have been fooled by this sheet music cover. Amazon has one of these "shares" on sale for $47 and the listing states it is a share of stock. An article about oil production in this country on the PBS site also displays a copy of a "share of stock in the Spondulix Petroleum Company and represents it as a real share. Several other sites also represent an image of this sheet music cover as a share of stock. Amazing!
Perhaps some of these sites should read the "share" more carefully or at least research their sources. Fortunately, a few sites get it right and show it as it really is, a clever sheet music cover. For the record, the "share" states:
"Spondulix Petroleum Company
Shares 50 Cts. Each
Dividends Declared Very Often
The subscription book will positively close when the stock is all taken and the money paid in.
Every stockholder is entitled to one copy of the famous
F. B. Helmsmüller The Treasurer and General Manager of The Spondulix Co.
Published for the
Wm. A. POND & CO. 547 BROADWAY, NEW YORK"
It is very unlikely a real company would turn to a music publisher (Pond) to print their stock certificates. And certainly, they would not print the price of the sheet music and the music's copyright notice within the borders of their "share." As best I can determine, there never was a Spondulix Petroleum Company.
All that aside, the Galop at hand is every bit as good as the prior piece. Just enjoy the music!
As for F. B. Helmsmüller, despite what seems like hundreds of galops, waltzes, marches (several paying homage to Lincoln), Schottisches and other works listed all over the internet, I've been unable to find a word about his origins and life. If anyone out there can enlighten us, please do.
Listen to and watch
the music play (Scorch plug-in, heavy graphics, long load time possible)
Listen to MIDI version
(There are no lyrics for this piece)
This article published December, 2008 and is Copyright © 2008
by Richard A. Reublin and The Parlor Songs Academy Text, images or
music may not be reproduced in part or in total without express written permission
of the author or an officer of the corporation. Though the songs published on
this site are often in the Public Domain, MIDI renditions are protected by copyright
as recorded performances.
Thanks for visiting us and be sure to come back again next month to see our new
feature or to read some or all of our over 130 articles about America's music.
See our resources page for a complete bibliography of our own library resources used to research this
and other articles in our series.
If you'd like to contribute an article to us at Parlor Songs, we'd love to have
your help and contribution. The "rules"
for submissions can be found here, we'd love to have submissions by any of
our readers, anytime and would enjoy having a "reader submission" or
"favorites" feature from time to time. Heck, get involved, help us out
and write a feature for us!