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A Pop Star In The Age Of Lincoln

Abe Lincoln loved him.  We’ll listen to the deep Americana of Civil War era composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

Louis Moreau Gottschalk pictured on an 1864 Publication of The Dying Poet for piano. (Wikipedia)

Louis Moreau Gottschalk pictured on an 1864 Publication of The Dying Poet for piano. (Wikipedia)

Abe Lincoln loved music.  In March, 1864, he sat down with Mary Todd Lincoln in the front row at Willard Hall in Washington to hear an American original:  Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  A son of New Orleans, celebrating the Union in the depths of the Civil War.  Gottschalk was a proper rock star in his day.

A piano prodigy who made men weep and women throw garters.  Granddaddy of ragtime.  World music pioneer, with a wild story of his own.

This hour, On Point:  from Lincoln’s ear to ours – the music of Louis Moreau Gottschalk.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Richard Rosenberg, conductor and artistic director for the Union Symphony Orchestra in Monroe, North Carolina and the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland.

John Davis, pianist and historian, who specializes in reviving the forgotten music of several 19th Century African-American pianists, including Blind Tom Wiggins and Blind Boone. He was a featured performer last month at the Green-Wood Cemetery tribute to Louis Moreau Gottschalk in Brooklyn.

From Tom’s Reading List

Gottschalk.com “Traditionally, Gottschalk is remembered as a virtuoso, as well as a prolific composer of popular (and, so it is said, quite often rather sentimental) music. While there may be some truth in this statement, it is our belief that there is more to Gottschalk and his music than just that. As one of his biographers has put it, Gottschalk was “both an arch-romantic and a rationalist, a sentimentalist and a pragmatist, at once America´s first regionalist composer, its first multiculturalist, and its first true nationalist.””

Videos

Check out this recording of Gottschalk’s Grande Tarantelle.


Here’s Gottschalk’s Bamboula.

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  • ttajtt

    i would dine, clean house to this and i would not know what else to do with it.

  • RolloMartins

    I once heard a composition by Gottschalk that I thought sublime. Don’t know what it is; hoping to hear some snippet of it today.

  • OjosCriollos

    Thank you for this program! We love him in New Orleans, of course, but not enough people here know of him, unfortunately. F. Frederick Starr’s biography ‘Bamboula’ (hardcover), ‘Louis Moreau Gottschalk’ (paperback) is engaging and thorough. A must read!

  • http://twitter.com/BeatinPathPub Brent Holl

    I’m enjoying your program today very much.  I had the chance to collaborate on a book of music for children, Crescent City Collection written by New Orleanian, Steven Kennedy, that included a section on Gottchalk. He arranged a version of Bamboula for his classroom marimba ensemble. The kids in New Orleans and around the country are enjoying playing this fine music very much.

  • OjosCriollos

    For a while people thought he was African American, and there was a surge of interest in him. When it was realized that he was not, he was dropped, but there is a renewed interest in him now. Musicologists, such as John Joyce, the first to teach a course in Jazz history and teaches at Tulane, include Gottschalk in jazz history. Gottschalk distinguished himself from other New Orleans composers for incorporating the rhythms of New Orleans from Congo Square and the syncopated regional music of Latin America into classical.

  • 1OnPointFan

    Yes, I have heard of Gottschalk and I love his music.  He is always mentioned in articles and lectures about the Jewish influence in the music world.  I happen to be from New Orleans and I’m Jewish so I think that originally is what interested me to learn more about him.  I wish he would be played more on the classical station.  Thanks for a great show, as usual.

  • OjosCriollos

    I had to find this to share with all of you. I heard this on public radio WWNO recently, and was excited to hear this from a New Orleans composer: http://www.wwno.org/post/bamboula-take-three-legacy-congo-square
    Bamboula Take Three: Legacy of Congo Square

    “WWNO presents the world broadcast debut of the jazz composition, ‘Bamboula Take Three: The Legacy of Congo Square.’ “It’s
    an original jazz composition by New Orleans musician Edward Anderson.
    It was recorded before a live audience at the The Old U.S. Mint here in
    New Orleans on April 1, and draws inspiration from the unique connection
    between Congo Square and New Orleans Classical composer Louise Moreau
    Gottschalk.
    WWNO’s Paul Maassen talked with composer Edward Anderson, and Freddi Evans, author of Congo Square: African Roots in New Orleans, about the project, followed by the concert.
    Watch
    a video of Anderson discuss his efforts to bring more jazz concerts to
    New Orleans, courtesy of UNO film student Seth Rodriguez and our
    partners at NolaVie.”

  • BobBoston

    I was introduced to Gottschalk in college in 1979 when my piano teacher recommended a piece to include in a spring recital, “Union.”  It was difficult to learn, but I loved playing it and it was a big hit, both for its novelty and its Americana tunefulness.  I also loved Joplin and was fortunate to be able to include some of his rag-time piano pieces in my performances.  But Gottschalk was a whole new and wonderful experience.  I could hear him in the background of later composers such as Joplin and Ives.  

  • longlongroad

    It was fascinating to hear Gottschalk’s music and the insights into his life and times–the impact of his compositions on Ragtime and Jazz, and his despair over America’s Civil War.  FYI,  Richard Rosenberg will play Gottschalk in June at the National Music Festival in Chestertown, Maryland. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=602950599 Crystal Bolner Forte

    How can I download a podcast of this show?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MAQF7ES7IW2QRTN57BIBFSC2BY SoulSurvivor

      There’s a link to download right below the “Share” link
      Or you can do what I do & subscribe to this great podcast (& many more) via iTunes :) 

  • 1Brett1

    The compositions were interesting. The staccato hesitation, and the rhythmic emphases; the syncopation; the pop sensibilities to melody; all of these were quite apparent. One could definitely hear what sounded like a precursor to Ragtime. One could also hear what could very well be an enormous influence on others, for example, Bizet’s, ‘Carmen.’ …Excellent show; I found it particularly interesting as I had just seen the movie ‘Lincoln’ last night.

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