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Ref: CDG1138

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13 tracks 61 min
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Music of America's Gilded Age

Music from America's brilliant period, from the end of the Civil War to the second decade of the 1900s, reflected in an album of piano music and songs. Edward Macdowell and others wrote music of great beauty and refinement: and there are songs from Stephen Foster, and early ragtime too, in the works of Joplin and others.

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Beautiful Dreamer
Music of America's Gilded Age

Music from America's brilliant period, from the end of the Civil War to the second decade of the 1900s, reflected in an album of piano music and songs. Edward MacDowell and others wrote music of great beauty and refinement: and there are songs from Stephen Foster, and early Ragtime too, in the works of Joplin and others.

1 Peaches & Cream Foxtrot John Philip Sousa (1854-1932)
2 Desirée: Waltz John Philip Sousa
3 Festival March Victor Herbert (1859-1924)
Cincinatti Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel
4 To a Wild Rose Edward MacDowell (1860-1908)
5 The Entertainer Scott Joplin (c. 1867-1917)
Martin Souter
6 Beautiful Dreamer Stephen Collins Foster (1826-1864)
Sara Stowe & Matthew Spring
7 Bethena (A Concert Waltz) Scott Joplin
Martin Souter
8 I Dream of Jeannie Stephen Collins Foster
9 Old Folks at Home Stephen Collins Foster
Sara Stowe & Matthew Spring
10 Solace (A Mexican Serenade) Scott Joplin
Martin Souter
11 The Washington Post March John Philip Sousa
Cincinatti Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel
12 Maple Leaf Rag Scott Joplin
Martin Souter
13 Mark Twain- a Portrait for Orchestra Jerome Kern (1885-1945)
Cincinatti Pops Orchestra conducted by Erich Kunzel

CCL CDG1138
This compilation P & C 2005 Classical Communications Ltd
Cover image: Eleanor 1907 Frank Weston Benson(1862-1951) Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Massachusetts, USA/www.bridgeman.co.uk The Hayden Collection - Charles Henry Hayden Fund
Made in Great Britain

Inside book:

Beautiful Dreamer
Music of America's Gilded Age

The great writer and humorist Mark Twain coined the term 'The Gilded Age'. It is used to describe the opulence of certain parts of American society from the period from the end of the American Civil War to around the beginning of the First World War. This was the time of the 'robber barons', a group of families who had acquired immense wealth through industrialisation, the growth of the railroads and the rise of the stock market. Mark Twain was a careful and blunt commentator on the changes which he saw in American society in this period. In 1871 he asked and answered a few questions: "What is the chief end of man? - to get rich. In what way? - dishonestly if we can; honestly if we must." And while many got rich, a huge proportion of the population remained desperately poor. Everybody had the opportunity to become a Carnegie, a Vanderbilt or a Rockefeller, but, in reality, only a few were able to do so. But the wealth of those few had a huge impact on the music of America, since they were in a position to become patrons of the arts, and to found institutions such as the Metropolitan Opera House in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This album brings together contrasting music from the Gilded Age with a musical portrait of Twain himself from one of the greatest melodists of early twentieth century America. The earliest music represented here is in songs by Stephen Foster. Beautiful Dreamer dates from 1862 and Old Folks at Home from 1851. They were composed right at the start of the Gilded Age, but their fame spread quickly, and they remained in vogue for decades. Foster's self-declared aim was to 'build up taste among refined people by making words suitable to their taste, instead of the trashy and really offensive words which belong to some songs.' Even today, Foster's superbly-crafted melodies are familiar to Americans and Europeans alike.

Edward MacDowell was, in many respects, a society composer, and his music can be said to epitomise the Gilded Age. He studied in Europe, where, at the conservatoire in Leipzig, he got to know Franz Liszt and Edvard Grieg. MacDowell brought European sophistication back with him to Boston and the East Coast, and started to develop a national musical idiom for sophisticated concert music which was very different from the simpler music of Foster, which was more suited to the music hall or the home. 'To a wild rose' is probably MacDowell's most famous composition and it sums up very well the juxtaposition of a simple, beguiling style of melody with rather sophisticated harmonies and form. This juxtaposition became a hallmark of American music whether it was seriously classical or more popular, whether written for the concert hall or the music hall, and it unites the music of MacDowell with that of Foster, even though their styles and backgrounds are so far apart.

Joplin and Sousa are contrasting figures from the latter part of the Gilded Age. Joplin almost invented ragtime music, with its rock steady rhythms and the typical bass part. But he was also a supreme composer of melody, which could be touching, uplifting, or both! Joplin was determined to be a successful composer for the stage, where his amazing melodic talents should have stood him in good stead. But his theatre career never took off properly, and today, despite leaving behind a significant amount of stage music, he remains best known for his ragtime piano pieces.

John Philip Sousa's music grew from the vast repertoire and resources of local town bands across America. Sousa disliked ragtime, and decisively avoided composing in that style, but his vigorous tunes and harmonies nevertheless have something in common with it. Sousa was a brilliant performer and businessman. He and his band toured the United States for years, sometimes performing ten concerts or more a week by making full use of the opportunities for travel afforded by the new railroad network of the Gilded Age.

Jerome Kern came from the generation or two after Sousa and Joplin. He was born in New York, and, after a brief spell in London, he wrote Broadway shows, collaborating with authors of the day including the famous PG Wodehouse. Kern also wrote film scores for the cinema. Mark Twain - A Portrait for Orchestra is a lovely piece and provides a fine musical and atmospheric impression of Twain and the Gilded Age.


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