War Ballroom: music for a midcentury Victorian ball
also available: sheet music for this CD
Spare Parts kindly request the
pleasure of your company at the ball. The evening's
program features a blend of popular, classical, and
continental melodies typical of the Civil War
evening's dance card includes:
1. Grand March Medley (9:05) [audio sample]
Nineteenth-century balls, and grand marches in particular, often contained popular selections. This medley includes songs that were popular during the Civil War in both the North and the South. It was common for one side to write parodies of songs that were currently popular with the other side.
Kingdon Coming (Henry Clay Work, 1862)
Battle Cry of Freedom (George Frederick Root, 1862)
Dixie's Land (Dixie) (Dan D. Emmett, 1860)
Darling Nellie Gray (Benjamin R. Hanby, 1856)
The Girl I Left Behind Me (old British tune, first published in U.S. in 1770)
2. Prima Donna, or Plain Waltz (2:45)
This sweet melody was composed by the famous French bandmaster and showman Louis Antoine Jullien. Its appearance in several American music publications from the late 1850s shows how popular it was. Liz added the harmonies.
3. Soldier's Joy Medley (4:45) [audio sample]
Both Soldier's Joy and College Hornpipe are traditional fiddle tunes that remain in circulation today. The second tune, now usually known as Sailor's Hornpipe, is at least 400 years old. The tunes and the dance appear in a number of midcentury dance manuals and music books.
4. Cally Polka (2:15) [audio sample]
Our version of this piece comes from an 1854 publication by Stephen Foster, The Social Orchestra. Foster arranged a number of popular melodies, including his own songs, for people to play in their own homes or for small social gatherings. The anonymous tune itself is older, as Allen Dodworth published an arrangement in 1846.
5-7. The Lancers Quadrilles
5. La Dorset (1:52)
6. La Native (1:32)
7. Les Lanciers (3:52)
One of the most popular quadrille sets throughout the nineteenth century was The Lancers. It has the standard five-part quadrille form, but we usually play only parts 1, 3, and 5 at dances. Our orchestration, from The Star Collection of Instrumental Music by John W. Moore (1858) reads "As danced at Nahant, Newport, Saratoga, and Other Fashionable Places."
8. Sans Souci Galop (1:40) [audio sample]
During the second half of the nineteenth century, galops evolved into bravura showpieces, usually for a particular instrument. Sans Souci by J. Ascher typifies the simpler musical style popular in the 1840s, when the galop's primary purpose was lively dancing. Galops often followed quadrilles on dance programs.
9. Byerly's Waltz (2:30) [audio sample]
We found this waltz in Foster's Social Orchestra. It may have had another name, but Foster just called it after its composer, William Byerly. We added the harmonies.
10. Jenny Lind Polka (2:00) [audio sample]
Though written at least 150 years ago, two parts of this polka are still familiar today. Anton Wallerstein composed the tune to honor the world-famous singer (and media sensation) known as "The Swedish Nightingale." Our version is from William Dressler's arrangement, published in Dodworth's Polka Quadrilles (1852), with a flourish or two added by Bill.
11. La Tempete (5:25)
La Tempete is a short piece by the French dancing master Charles d'Albert that accompanies a dance of the same name. Our version comes from Howe's Fifty Contra Dances (Elias Howe, ca. 1860). Peter plays a reproduction of a period instrument, the natural trumpet, for the fanfare section.
12. Bluebird Polka Redowa (2:30)
There are a couple of different midcentury dances called redowas. Despite the name, the polka redowa is really more like a waltz than a polka. The steps are a bit more complicated than a waltz, so the tempo has to be slower. Susan and Liz added harmonies to this piece by Weingarten.
13. Crystal Schottische (2:25) [audio sample]
This is another William Byerly dance tune that Foster included in The Social Orchestra. Foster arranged it for violin and flute, with accompaniment by a second violin and bass. We've followed this arrangement, but substituted piano for the original accompaniment.
14. Gothic Dance, or Merry Haymaker's Medley (5:40)
We often play three traditional Irish jigs for either of two dances at reenactment balls. The Gothic Dance gets its name from everyone raising their arms, making two long lines of pointed arches like a Gothic cathedral. Go to the Devil and Shake Yourself is listed as the music for the Merry Haymaker's dance in Howe's No. 2 Fifty Contra Dances (ca. 1860). Gary Owen and Larry O'Gaff appear in several 1850s and 1860s music publications.
15. Charming Waltz (2:15) [audio sample]
Published in 1858, this piece by C. Kinkel works for both the redowa waltz and the ordinary waltz. The redowa waltz is more lively than either tha polka redowa or the ordinary waltz, with elegant small leaps (called cut or spring steps) to each bar of the music.
16. Virginia Reel Medley (5:55) [audio sample]
Only some of the songs popular during the Civil War made good dance tunes. Three of the best are included here. Harry Macarthy published The Bonny Blue Flag in 1861, but he set the words to an old tune that's probably an Irish jig. Most people only know half of When Johnny Comes Marching Home. The original, published in 1863 by "Louis Lambert" (real name: Patrick Sarsfield Gilmore), includes 8 additional bars of music. These, too, sound like an old jig from Gilmore's native Ireland. Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! was published in 1864 by George Frederick Root (from Western Massachusetts, not far from Spare Parts). The final tune appears in 1850s quadrilles and never goes out of style: Gioachino Rossinni's William Tell Overture (1829).
17. Spanish Waltz (6:25) [audio sample]
The closing piece is called the Spanish Dance or the Spanish Waltz, depending on whether one is referring to the steps or to the tune. The Spanish Dance is a set dance done in a circle or a line, using waltz steps. The dance often appears with this tune, but some sources show different music. This anonymous melody is our favorite.
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