Category: Nineteenth-Century Music

  • Way Up North in Dixie

    “Dixie,” or “Dixieland,” are names used to refer to the American South. The song “(I Wish I Was In) Dixie’s Land,” more commonly known just as “Dixie,” was written in 1859 and published by a white blackface entertainer named Daniel Emmett. However, the book Way Up North in Dixie: A Black Family’s Claim to the […]

  • “Ode to Joy” Re/Mix

    Some resources for your final project. The text of Friedrich Schiller’s “Ode to Joy”: “An die Freude” “Ode to Joy” Freude, schöner Götterfunken,Tochter aus Elysium,Wir betreten feuertrunken,Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!Deine Zauber binden wiederWas die Mode streng geteilt*;Alle Menschen werden Brüder*Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt. Wem der große Wurf gelungenEines Freundes Freund zu sein;Wer ein holdes Weib […]

  • Mountain Music

    The sound of the French horn provides one of the most emblematically Romantic timbres in nineteenth-century music. Why is that? The French horn derives its origin from the hunting horn (in German, waldhorn or forest horn) — a brass instrument played while hunting on horseback to call back the hounds from the hunt. Some horns, […]

  • Heaven and Earth Will Tremble

    (The title page of Beethoven’s manuscript of his third symphony, with the dedication scratched out.) In October 1803, Beethoven’s friend, student, and acolyte Ferdinand Ries wrote to the music publisher Simrock: [Beethoven] wants to sell you [his new] Symphony for 100 gulden. In his own opinion it is the greatest work he has yet written. Beethoven […]

  • The Hobgoblin of Little Minds

    A hobgoblin is, in European folklore, a spirit of the hearth or fireside (the “hob”). Hobgoblins are considered meddlesome and mischievous beings. In the universe of Marvel Comics, the Hobgoblin is one of Spiderman’s nemeses. In his well-known 1841 essay “Self-Reliance,” the American transcendentalist philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson stated that “A foolish consistency is the […]

  • Calinda

    The earliest-known published book of African-American music, the 1867 Slave Songs of the United States, is primarily devoted to the religious vocal music of the slaves of the eastern seaboard. However, there are several songs at the end that are of a very different nature. These songs are in French and were collected in Louisiana, and […]

  • Tracing the Sources

    [Content warning: racist language and imagery.] In the 1940s, the American composer Ruth Crawford Seeger, also a folklorist and musicologist, published a collection of American children’s folksongs she had compiled. One of the numbers in this volume of 43 songs is “Such a Getting Upstairs.” This singer asserts that it is a “going-up-to-bed-song” from Indiana. […]

  • Can A White Girl Sing Selena?

    April 16 is a state holiday in Texas: Selena Day. Who was Selena? Selena was, is, and, were I to guess, will remain for eternity the most beloved female of all time in the Latino community. (Second place is the Virgin Mary, if you’re looking for context.) . . . She looked like (a more attractive […]

  • Cultural Appropriation or Cross-Cultural Encounter?

    Trigger/content warning: racist language, blackface minstrelsy. Rihanna wearing a Catholic bishop’s mitre at the gala for the Metropolitan Museum show “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination.” The lines between cultural appropriation and a more innocent cross-cultural borrowing can be blurry. Are there rules for determining which is which? Is this cultural appropriation? (Watch the […]

  • Blackface/Yellowface

    We’ve talked a little about the longstanding practice in opera of white singers “blacking up” to play characters of color. This practice has only begun to be thought of as controversial in our own century. For now, the least offensive choices for opera producers are to 1) cast singers whose race/ethnicity matches the race/ethnicity of […]