Sweet Songs for Gentle Americans: The Parlor Song in America, 1790-1860

Sweet Songs for Gentle Americans: The Parlor Song in America, 1790-1860

Sweet Songs for Gentle Americans: The Parlor Song in America, 1790-1860

Sweet Songs for Gentle Americans: The Parlor Song in America, 1790-1860

Excerpt

Interest in the nineteenth-century parlor song has increased in recent times. This music has become the subject of a few informative papers, the main element of several well-received concerts and the featured matter of a handful of recordings.

Nevertheless, though trustworthy information on vital aspects of this music is lacking, the parlor song remains a concern of few scholars. We are grateful for the one or two careful studies embracing the subject that have been published, particularly Oscar Sonneck's and Richard Wolfe's exhaustive bibliographies of secular music published in America before 1825. However, the little that has been written in book-form which focuses directly on the parlor song as often as not fails to stand up under careful scrutiny. The author has tried to study all recent secondary sources of information. In many instances they remain uncited in the text. Convinced of the compelling need to rethink the entire subject, he has preferred to go back to the original documents and re-examine the genre from the viewpoint of its American musical public.

Until recently, most writers on the subject have been enthusiastic amateurs. They have given us several histories of popular song usually consisting of catalogues of song titles, anecdotes on the lives of composers and singers, chit-chat on the conception and reception of famous compositions, and perhaps some selections of music, which in many cases are disfigured and distorted by editorial amendations to lyrics, melodies and accompaniments. In too many such publications, misinformation lurks in every sentence and in every measure of music.

A book is needed that aims less to popularize the subject and satisfy a mass-taste for amusement and nostalgia, more one that with scrupulous regards for scholarly procedures examines those important topics which are keys to the understanding of the genre: what it is; why, by whom, and for whom it was written; its textual and musical commonplaces; and the characteristics of its lyrics and music.

With some trepidation this kind of study is attempted here. The . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.