Above: A collage of cover images from the recently donated Marshall - Morrow Collection.

Music of the 1840's

From the Marshall - Morrow Collection

We recently received a generous and most important donation of sheet music from the Marshall and Morrow families 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. We first introduced you to the collection with our article about music from the American Civil War period, then later with an overview of the collection that was published in December 2008. As promised, we continue our look at this historic music by focusing on music from the 1840's in America from the collection.

As in the previous two articles, we are continuing including the full cover art in the Scorch versions 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 families since it was first acquired by Mrs. Elmira Wood of New York City. For the history of this important collection, see the above mentioned December, 2008 article.

The decade of the 1840's was one of transition for the US and one full of important developments for our country. It was an era of the Mexican War, claiming of the Antarctic for the USA, the shortest presidential tenure in history (William Henry Harrison, died after only one month in office) and the first ongoing Senate filibuster in 1841 from February 18 to March 11. It was also a decade of tragedies with 317 people killed in Natchez, Mississippi by a tornado and 139 people lost their lives when the steamship Lexington burns and sinks four miles off the coast of Long Island. Many advances were seen during this decade including the first vulcanization of rubber, invention of the sewing machine and the first American woman (Elizabeth Blackwell) being granted a medical degree. America's westward expansion began in earnest with this decade seeing the first wagon trains to California and the Oregon trail departing Independence and Elm Grove Missouri.

Fashions in America were still influenced by those of Europe with women's fashion dominated by a triangular line with vertical emphasis. Shoulders became narrow and sloping, waists became low and pointed, and sleeve detail migrated from the elbow to the wrists. Where pleated fabric panels had wrapped the bust and shoulders in the previous decade, they now formed a triangle from the shoulder to the waist of day dresses. Dresses took on a more bell shape than previous periods. And men's fashions featuring Frock coats (a tight fitting coat with the front cut up to the waistline) were worn for informal day wear. Shoulders were narrower and slightly sloped. Waistcoats or vests were single- or double-breasted, with shawl or notched collars, and often finished in double points at the lowered waist. A cutaway morning coat was worn with light trousers for any formal daytime occasion; evening dress called for a dark tail coat and trousers. Most attire was quite formal and "dandy" much of it influenced by Prince Albert. Of course "western" (as in the "wild west" of America) wear was less formal but still had a flair. (Details of period dress extracted from Wikipedia)

America's music also began a transition during this period from music dominated by the classics and European composers to an emergence of American composers and uniquely American performance styles such as the first Minstrel groups and composers such as Stephen Foster coming of age.

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, March, 2009. This article published March, 2009 and is Copyright © 2009 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.


Take Your Time cover & close-up (rollover)Take Your Time Miss Lucy


Music by: George Loder
Words by:A. Allan
Cover art: Litho. not attributed


Though manners and dress were formal during this period, America still had a sense of humor and we also began to see the emergence of more comedic and novelty songs in this decade. This particular piece is subtitled as a comedic ballad, "sung with great success (and enthusiastic encores) at Mitchell's Olympic Theater by Miss Taylor" (and Miss Rosalie). The Olympic Theatre was founded in 1837 at 444 Broadway, New York City between Howard and Grande. The original building was destroyed by fire in 1854. The sketch seen below is of the theater circa 1841.

The lithography for the cover is un-attributed and represents the humorous theme of the song and also provides us with an interesting view of period clothing. The mother appears almost as a nun and is Olympic Theater, ca. 1841dressed mostly in an earlier period style, Young Miss Lucy though is the epitome of ladies styles as described above in the introduction to this article.

The music is relatively simple as was much of the music of the times. Made for ease of playing by the average player, it has a simple, mostly single note bass line with simple chords played on beats following the bass notes. This was a very common layout and you'll see much more of it in many of the songs in this article and later ones covering the 1850's and 60's. It does however have a catchy tune and a really cute story as told through the lyrics. As with most songs of the period the song is through composed with no repeats nor separately identified repeated choruses as would much later become the standard layout for popular song (usually termed as "strophic".)


George Loder, (1816 - 1868) the composer of this piece is titled simply as "Music Director" inside the sheet on the title page. He was in fact, the music director of the Olympic and listed as an arranger, composer, producer and writer. He is credited with the production of several stage shows at the Olympic and other New York theaters from 1840 through 1851. His first production here was La Musquito, a musical comedy, in May of 1840 at the Olympic. Loder was born in Bath, England in 1816 and emigrated to the US in 1836 and settled in Baltimore. He first appeared on the musical scene in New York as a composer and conductor in the 1839-40 season. In 1842, he was a founding member of the New York Philharmonic Symphony Society and also played double bass in the orchestra for several seasons. He conducted the American premiere of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in May of 1846 and continued as a conductor for the Philharmonic for seven seasons.In 1844 he became the principal of the New York Vocal institute and compiled The New York Glee Book for them in 1843 . He also published The Philadelphia and New York Glee Book in 1857.

In 1856 Loder traveled to Australia to conduct an opera company and then in 1860 was in London where he published two comic operettas, Pets of the Parterre and The Old House at Home for performance at the Lyceum. In 1863 he returned to Australia for another visit and conducted the first Australian performance of Les Hugenots. While in Australia he contracted a lingering illness and died in Adelaide in July of 1868.

Though Loder was not a native American, he is one of the more prominent contributors to the development of music in America during the 1840's and it was certainly our loss that he was unable to return to America to continue writing, producing and leading the continued development of the musical society in New York. (Principal biographical facts from the New Grove Encyclopedia of American Music, Vol3, p.97)


Hear this humorous parlor song (Scorch format, be patient, all the Scorch files this month are very large file sizes, this sheet music is printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version



The Blue Juniata cover & cover detail (rollover)The Blue Juniata


Words and Music by: Mrs. M. D. Sullivan
Cover art: Litho. Bufford & Sons

Appearing in 1841, this song is one of the earliest "Indian" popular songs to be written and published in America. Though later in the early 20th century, "Indian" themed songs were quite the rage (see our 2006 article about Tin Pan Alley Indian related songs and our article about the influence of American Indian music on popular song) such songs were few and far between during this decade. It was one of the most popular parlor songs of the Nineteenth Century, and the first commercially successful song written by an American woman. The title refers to a river, the Juniata and an Indian maid, Alfarata who sings of her love "where sweep the waters of the blue Juniata."

"The Juniata River is a tributary of the Susquehanna River, approximately 90 miles long, in central Pennsylvania. The river is considered scenic along much of its route, having a broad and shallow course passing through several mountain ridges and steeply-lined water gaps. It formed an early 18th-century frontier region in Pennsylvania and was the site of Native American attacks against white settlements during the French and Indian War (1754–1763)." (Wikipedia)

The song is one that became extremely popular and even appeared in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book Little House on the Prairie. The song is, as above, relatively simple with a single bass chord (octaves) on the first beat of each measure followed by either alternating chords or in most measures, a chord repeated on each of the following beats. the essential rhythm is bass-chord-chord-chord or bass-chord-bass-chord to accompany the melody. The lyrics are romantic and the melody is bright and happy and it is easy to see how this song became so popular. The song is memorable as both an early "true American" song but for its significance as a breakthrough work for a woman composer. Almost every reference to this song found on the net gives a publication date of 1844 however the copy we have is clearly dated 1841. Some accounts describe the lyrics as a poem written by Sullivan as early as 1830. Below is a close up scan of the publication date as shown on the sheet music.

Closeup of publication date on sheet music


Mrs. M. D. (Marion Dix) Sullivan, (1802 - 1860) A native of New Hampshire. She was a sister of the distinguished soldier and statesman General John A. Dix, of New York, and of that noble philanthropist Dorothy L. Dix. Oddly considering her importance as a groundbreaking woman composer in America, very little seems to have been preserved about her life (an unfortunate common situation with female composers before the current period.)


Hear this "Indian" ballad (Scorch format, be patient, long load time)

listen to MIDI version


Vive la Compagnie sheet music coverVive La Compagnie


Music by: Unknown
Words by: Unknown
Cover art: Litho.not attributed


I found this song rather interesting as I can recall singing it in the dark caverns of the South Heidelburg in Columbus Ohio in the 1960's while attending Ohio State University. Our Navy ROTC glee club also sang it occasionally and at the time I never gave its origins a thought. Certainly I never imagined that this ubiquitous drinking song dated back to 1844 and earlier. One may wonder why a song with mixed French and English lyrics would end up being sung for nearly two hundred years in many countries, especially one so simple. And therein lies the reason. When drinking and your mind is addled by the alcohol, you need a simple melody with simple lyrics to boisterously sing louder and louder the more you drink. It is a rousing song that has also been sung down the years by various glee clubs besides the OSU Navy club. This particular edition is inscribed; "As sung by the Maryland Cadets Glee Club." The song has also become a staple in the "scout song" repertoire although with significantly different lyrics.

The origins of this song are a bit cloudy and blurred by time. There are many estimates of origin but none I've found are definitive. One source states it was an original song published in 1818. That year a German version appeared as Ich Nehm' Mein Gläschen in die Hand. The lyrics have been revised many times to suit settings and one source cites a Civil War version for the Confederacy, re titled as Chivalrous C.S.A. As mentioned above, the scout version is also different as are other versions. Versions seem to exist in almost every western country and each has its own set of lyrics. To say the lyrics of this version in our collection are the definitive originals ignores the probable many years before that the song existed and the penchant for revision we've seen since this publication. Despite not being able to pin down the songwriter(s) and first publication, whomever wrote it should be pleased it has been so durable and probably will continue to be sung for several more centuries. Simply amazing! Much of the music from this period included choruses for voice, and this one begs for a male chorus. We've tried to present the Scorch and MIDI 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


Sleeping I Dreamed Love sheet music coverSleeping, I Dreamed Love


Music by: W. V. Wallace (& John H. Hewitt)
Words by: Mrs. Mary C. Hewitt
Cover art: Litho. not attributed

The ballad was one of the mainstays of parlor music in the 19th century and this decade was rife with them. During this period, romantic (not only in the sense of love songs but style as well) ballads were the predominant song form. The confusion apparent in my header for this song regarding composer is due to a conflict between what the cover states and what the interior heading inside lists. I encounter this with some regularity. The cover states that the words are adapted to Le Reve by W. W. Wallace with this arrangement by John H. Hewitt so I've credited them both. More accurately it should probably reflect Wallace as the composer with arrangement by Hewitt. Of consequence is that we have another female songwriter and that is the case with many of the songs from this decade and the two that follow. It is my observation that during the mid 19th century, there were quite a few women composers/songwriters who were prominent and who published a large body of work. Later it seems, in the early 20th century, Tin Pan Alley was dominated by men and though many women did compose popular songs, save a few, most were ignored and never really allowed to reach the status of most of the male composers, even those whose works were inferior to the women's. This strikes me as a bit of reverse progress that took place.

On to the music. A fairly long introduction of the melody with octaves and then chords is followed by the melody. Through composed as most songs of the period were, the melody is fairly well repeated as is throughout with only a minor transition between restatements of the melody. The accompaniment is still in the simple mode we've described (bass octaves and chords) with one major exception, rather than simple repeated chords in the right hand, the accompaniment consists of continuous arpeggios throughout. It does come off as a bit overdone by the end of the song and though the melody is fine, I found myself wishing that the composer had added some variety.

I've found no biographical information about Mrs. Hewitt, however Wallace (1812 - 1865) is much more well known. Mrs. Hewitt's husband John Hill Hewitt was the brother of James Lang Hewitt who was a music publisher and who composed some works with John. Though James Lang was a publisher and did publish works by his brother, it seems odd that this work was not published by Hewitt's firm rather than William Hall and Son.

William V. Wallace, composerWilliam Vincent Wallace (March 11, 1812 - October 12, 1865) Wallace was born at Colbeck Street, Waterford, Ireland. Both parents were Irish, his father, of County Mayo, was a regimental bandmaster. Wallace learned to play several instruments as a boy, became a leading violinist in Dublin and a fine pianist. Under the tuition of his father he early wrote pieces for the bands and orchestras of his native area. At the age of 18 he was organist of the Thurles Roman Catholic Cathedral and taught piano at the Ursuline Convent. He fell in love with a pupil, Isabella Kelly, whose father consented to their marriage in 1831 on condition that Wallace became a Roman Catholic and took the name of Vincent.

Wallace, with his wife and infant son, his sister Elisabeth, a soprano, and his brother Wellington, a flautist, emigrated in 1835 to Australia and gave family concerts. The family went to Sydney in 1836 and opened the first Australian music school. Sometime after this, Wallace separated from his wife and began a roving career. Wallace claimed that from Australia he went to New Zealand, made a whaling-voyage in the South seas, visited most of the interior provinces of India and spent some time in tiger-hunting, and finally visited Chile, Peru and Argentina, giving concerts in the large cities of those countries. It is suspected that many of these stories were manufactured or embellished by Wallace. In 1841 Wallace conducted Italian opera in Mexico, and in the early 1840s he made a successful tour of the United States and helped to found the New York Philharmonic Society.

He returned to London in 1845 and made various appearances as a pianist. In November of that year, his opera Maritana was performed at Drury Lane with great success and was later presented in Vienna, at the Covent Garden and in Australia. Wallace's sister, Elisabeth, appeared at Covent Garden in the title role in 1848. Maritana was followed by Matilda of Hungary (1847), Lurline (1860), The Amber Witch (1861), Love's Triumph (1862) and The Desert Flower (1863) . He also published a number of compositions for the piano.

In 1850, Wallace became an American citizen after a marriage in New York with Helen Stoepel, a pianist. In later years he became almost blind, and he died in poor circumstances at the Château de Bagen, Sauveterre de Comminges, near Barbazon, Haute Garonne, France on 12 October 1865 leaving a widow and two children; he was buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London. (Extracted from Wikipedia and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License)


Hear and see the score to this tender song (Scorch format, be patient for images to load)

Listen to MIDI version


Paris Qui Rit, sheet music coverParis Qui Rit (Laughing Paris)

ca 1845

Music by: A. Wallerstein, Op. 24
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 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 in the 1840's were often violated and the time period was short, it seems possible that many songs were purposely undated to obscure the exact date of publication. In addition, the importance of copyrights at that time were less than in today's markets..

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 mid1840 based upon the clothing depicted on the cover. The lithograph on the cover gives us a wonderful snapshot of clothing 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 a piano solo work in the form of the Schottische dance. The Schottische 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.

Anton Wallerstein, (1813-1892) Wallerstein was a German violinist who also was a writer of popular dance music. He also wrote a number of songs that were popular at the time in Germany. Born in Dresden, he appeared as a violinist at an early age. It was said that his playing was very expressive however he became much more well known for his compositions. At sixteen he was a member of the Court band in Dresden and later went to Hanover to play in the Court band there. He resigned from that post in 1841. Sometime before that date he had begun composing dances and songs and contemporary sources say that he composed nearly 300 dances in addition to numerous songs and variations for violin and orchestra. His dance music "appealed to all grades of society" and it is said his music attained great popularity abroad as well as in Germany. (From The American History and Encyclopedia of Music, Vol. 2, 1908)

Listen and view this happy Schottische ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in, be patient, long load time due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version

Lyrics (This piece has no lyrics)

Oh, Susanna, sheet music coverOh, Susanna


Words and Music by: Stephen S. Foster (un credited, music attributed to Edwin Christy)
Cover art: Litho. not attributed


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 that span the decades of the 1840's to the 1860's. You can be assured you will see more of his works, several of which are less well known as we work our way through the decades represented in this collection.

The cover states "Music of the Original Christy Minstrels..as arranged and sung by them." It also carries a facsimile signature of Christy who 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. The music is typically Foster, wonderful with four verses and chorus. Of course this song is well known to almost everyone in America and I can remember singing it in elementary school (unfortunately, closer to the time of publication than I'd care to admit). However, as with many songs of the period, especially minstrel songs, the verses as written then are far from what we learn or hear today. Of course we've included the lyrics as written and many of you may be very surprised at them and you can see just how much they have been "sanitized" over the ensuing years. Many may also be surprised that there are four verses the second and forth rarely if ever heard in modern times. The accompaniment is in the older style with the ostinato bass chords in strict time keeping the beat to the melody. The accompaniment is similar to Sleeping I Dreamed (above) with arpeggios throughout the verses but it reverts to repeated chords in the chorus.


Stephen C. FosterStephen 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 details)


Listen to this wonderful Foster song (Scorch format, be patient, long load time due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version


Be Kind to the Loved Ones at Home, sheet music coverBe Kind to the Loved Ones at Home


Words and Music by: I. B.(Isaac Baker) Woodbury
Cover art: Litho. not attributed


Yet another ballad from the decade is one I've found interesting in its sentiments. The composer obviously felt family was important (and it was in general in those days) and wrote what amounts to a musical admonishment to be sure to treat Mom, Dad, Sister and Brother with love and care. It enumerates the reasons for being kind to each of them and in some quite poetic ways. For example, for sister we see that "not many may know the depth of true sisterly love; The wealth of the ocean lies fathoms below the surface that sparkles above." There is some excellent advice for us all in this song and the reasons Woodbury gives us are well worth taking to heart even 162 years after first written.

The music is a perhaps a bit more advanced than some of the pieces we've seen but still in the basic form of left hand octaves and chords in the right. However, Woodbury alternates from chords and arpeggios and even adds in a few transitional passages that lends variety to the piece. Undoubtedly this song has not seen the light of day for well over 100 years but for me is a delightful "discovery" that hopefully you too will find well worth hearing again.

Isaac Baker Woodbury (Oct., 1819- Oct.,1858) was a 19th century composer and publisher of church music. Woodbury studied with Lowell Mason in Boston and with teachers in Paris and London. Upon his return to Boston he taught music, played organ, and directed choral groups. His first musical publications were tune books compiled in collaboration with his cousin Benjamin F. Baker, with whom he also formed the National Musical Convention, a training school for teachers. He also edited World of Music and the American Monthly Musical Review. He is most famous for publishing The Dulcimer; or, The New York Collection of Sacred Music, one of the best-known collection of Christian hymns of the era. His best-known hymn tunes include Siloam and Esmonton. Woodbury produced nearly 700 compositions and publications during his career. His sacred music was published principally in 15 tune books, and includes Anglican chants, hymn tunes and ensemble music for soloists or chorus. He published 14 secular tune books containing glees, choruses and school music; his four secular cantatas, three oratorios and one musical drama also appeared in these tune books. Woodbury's health began to fail in the 1850s and he spent his final years struggling against tuberculosis; he visited Europe and the Mediterranean in 1851–2 and 1857–8 and Florida in 1856–7, and died on a second trip to Florida in 1858. (Extracted from Wikipedia and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License. The basis for the Wikipedia article appears to be the New Grove)

Listen to this familial love song (Scorch plug-in, be patient, long load due to graphics)

Listen to MIDI version


The Willow Song, sheet music coverWillow Song, The


Music by: I. N. Metcalf
Words by: J. Wesley Hanson
Cover art: Litho. not attributed


The title of this song is somewhat intriguing, or more precisely, the sub title "or Voices From The Spirit Land." The song centers around a person who basically hears voices in the murmuring of the willows and then a spirit in "snow white brightness" makes herself visible. It is actually a little bit spooky for the song also speaks of the wraith's "cold fingers" and "like ice her cold touch lingers." I actually found it a little unsettling and certainly one of the more interesting songs I've encountered from the past. You'll need to either check the lyrics" link below or listen and watch the song in the Scorch player to get the full effect. The words come from poetry by John Wesley Hanson (1823 - 1901) a Bostonian who was a writer, newspaper editor and poet. A pastor as well, Hanson served as chaplain of the 6th Massachusetts regiment and served as army correspondent of the Boston Journal and the New York Tribune. His writings included a number of secular works as well as Biblical scholarly works.

The music is a lovely melody that does not at all convey the spooky feelings that the lyrics bring to the song. It is a bit of a slow march-like waltz marked Andante Espressivo. Through composed with three of the five verses, played completely, playing time is around four minutes. To me it is a bit similar to some of the dirges written for fallen Civil War soldiers we saw in our article about Civil War songs and yet it still retains a ballad like feel. Despite being slightly spooked, I found it to be a soothing and pleasant song.

I've found no biographical information about Metcalf.

Listen to and watch the music play ( Printable using the Scorch plug-in)

Listen to MIDI version


Ella Waltz, sheet music coverElla Waltz, The


Music by: Miss Emily Wandell
Cover art: Litho. not attributed


Many if not most of the works written during the mid 19th (and later) century carried personal dedications to friends and family and this simple little waltz is no exception. The music is actually quite elementary and I suspect the dedicatee, a Mrs. Sarah E. Budd may have been a piano student or someone with limited playing ability. Conversely, the author, Miss Wandell could have been a neophyte composer. When I first saw the music I though that it may have been composed as a children's piece but the dedication to a Mrs with the passage "Composed and affectionately dedicated to" implies it was written specifically for Mrs. Budd.

With no cover page, I suspect this particular song was printed in a very limited quantity and may have been printed more as a vanity press item than a commercial venture. That implies that either or both of the women involved may have been quite wealthy for creation of the lithographs to produce sheet music was not a trivial nor inexpensive affair.

The music is simple as I have described the work. It is nice but short however repeats stretch it out to a playing time of approximately two and one half minutes. There is little to commend it to greatness. I am sure it was used as a teaching piece and despite its plainness, makes for a pleasant melodic experience. Its value was and is undoubtedly in the sentiment and personal effort in creating such a considerate gift and honor. It is a shame that the friendship and story behind the work has been lost, however, the music will live on and now comes to light again, 161 years since publication.

I've been unable to find any information about the composer or the dedicatee.

Listen to and watch the music play (Scorch format, allow time for download)

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Lyrics (There are no lyrics for this piece)

The May Queen, sheet music coverMay Queen, The


Music by I. B. Woodbury
Words by Tennyson
Cover art: Litho. by Fagan..


The idea behind a "May Queen " has its origins in the celebration of "May Day." The tradition goes back at least to the 1500's in England. In more modern times, "the May Queen is usually a teenage girl who is selected to ride or walk at the front of a parade for May Day celebrations. She wears a white gown to symbolize purity and usually a tiara or crown. Her duty is to begin the May Day celebrations. She is generally crowned by flowers and makes a speech before the dancing begins. Certain age groups dance round a Maypole celebrating youth and the spring time. According to popular British folklore, the tradition once had a sinister twist, Illustration from The May Queenin that the May Queen was put to death once the festivities were over. The veracity of this belief is difficult to establish, but while in truth it might just be an example of anti-pagan propaganda, frequent associations between May Day rituals, the occult and human sacrifice are still to be found in popular culture today." (Extracted from Wikipedia and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.)

This song is based upon "The May Queen," an early poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson. The original poem consists of ten stanzas of which Woodbury has used most. The poem was first published in 1833. The "May Queen" image to the left is from an 1851 publication of the poem with numerous illustration published by Samson, Low and Sons in London.

The song begins with a long introduction consisting of a happy tune played Allegro Spiritoso. The song then consists of three parts; the first is in the spiritoso manner of the introduction, the second more sedate, marked andante and perhaps a little somber in tone. This part is repeated six more times with additional verses from the poem. The third part continues in the more subdued manner and the first repeat ends on a lento with the words "To die before the snow-drop came, and now the violet's here." The third part then also repeats for four more sections of verse with the final verse ending on. "Then seem'd to go right up to heaven, and die among the stars." As in the original rite, it appears that Tennyson's poem also ends with the demise of the May Queen through ritual sacrifice although Tennyson does not actually directly say that, it is implied through the final lines of the third part of the song. Of all the songs on display in this article, the May Queen rises above the very simple construction of the others and represents a higher level of difficulty and complexity of construction.

This is the second work by Woodbury in this feature and the Marshall - Morrow collection has quite a few more works by him. Of course his biography can be found above.

Alfred TennysonAlfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson (6 August 1809 – 6 October 1892) was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom and remains one of the most popular English poets. Tennyson was born in Somersby, Lincolnshire, a rector's son and fourth of 12 children. He was one of the descendants of King Edward III of England. Reportedly, "the pedigree of his grandfather, George Tennyson, is traced back to the middle-class line of the Tennysons, and through Elizabeth Clayton ten generations back to Edmund, Duke of Somerset, and farther back to Edward III. Tennyson excelled at penning short lyrics, including "In the valley of Cauteretz", "Break, break, break", "The Charge of the Light Brigade", "Tears, idle tears" and "Crossing the Bar". Much of his verse was based on classical mythological themes, although In Memoriam A.H.H. was written to commemorate his best friend Arthur Hallam, a fellow poet and classmate at Trinity College, Cambridge, who was engaged to Tennyson's sister, but died from a cerebral hemorrhage before they were married. Tennyson also wrote some notable blank verse including Idylls of the King, Ulysses, and Tithonus. During his career, Tennyson attempted drama, but his plays enjoyed little success in his lifetime. Tennyson wrote a number of phrases that have become commonplaces of the English language, including: "nature, red in tooth and claw", "better to have loved and lost", "Theirs not to reason why, / Theirs but to do and die", and "My strength is as the strength of ten, / Because my heart is pure". He is the second most frequently quoted writer in The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, after Shakespeare! (Extracted from Wikipedia and used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.)

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This article published March, 2009 and is Copyright © 2009 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.


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