Robert Sims played a fiddle and the dancing in April 1894 was livelier than that of antiquity. Nevertheless, the ancient Greek muse of dance and chorus must have been smiling on a group of devotees from Sandy Hill, now Hudson Falls, in Washington County, NY. [Read more…] about Unusual 19th Century Vocabulary Found in Northern New York Newspapers
During the 1920s, the Netherlands excelled in dullness, it is said. But Kees Wouters shows how the cobwebs of pillarized society were blown away by a new musical wind from the West: Jazz! Exalted by many, vilified by others, Dutch musicians playing American jazz conquered music halls and radio waves alike and even made the Dutch dance.
According to Dutch historian Hermann von der Dunk, writing in the early 1980s, life in the Netherlands after World War I was as exciting as in a girls’ boarding school. Nothing much happened. Despite the presence of about a million destitute Belgian refugees, the horrors of the war had largely passed the Netherlands by. [Read more…] about American Culture and 1920s Netherlands
What has gone down in history as the Peekskill Riot was an attack in 1949 by a horde of white supremacists on African-Americans attending a Civil Rights benefit concert in Peekskill, Westchester County, NY. The show, scheduled for August 27th, was headlined by bass-baritone Paul Robeson, the left-wing campaigner and advocate of racial equality.
Just before the singer’s arrival in Peekskill, concertgoers were brutally attacked by some three hundred troublemakers, many of them carrying baseball bats. As the local police did not intervene, thirteen people were wounded in the mayhem. The concert was cancelled and postponed until September 4th. With local labor unions providing security, the event proceeded that night before an audience of 20,000 people. Robeson was joined on stage by folk singers Pete Seeger, Hope Foye and others. [Read more…] about Harlem’s ‘French’ Hero: The Multi-Talented Eugene Bullard
In a recent article in the Washington Post, author Sydney Trent narrates the story of Stephanie Gilbert, a descendant of Oliver C. Gilbert, and her quest to learn of her ancestor and visit his place of birth and enslavement. The article briefly discusses O.C. Gilbert’s life in Saratoga Springs, NY, from about 1860 to 1876, when he moved to Pennsylvania.
Saratoga Springs offered many opportunities for employment, and it was said that while many of the Southern gentleman brought their slaves with them as they took in the season at The Spa, many of the Black men and women serving them were probably former enslaved people who had run for their freedom. Moreover, while Gilbert’s primary legacy is as a lecturer and musician, his political activism both before and while living in Saratoga Springs places him in the company of many prominent abolitionists, businessmen and politicians who continued the fight for racial equality as Jim Crow laws were becoming commonplace in America. [Read more…] about O.C. Gilbert: Speaker, Musician, Black Community Organizer in Saratoga
Most people have heard of the musical Mangione brothers – Jazz artists Chuck and Gap of Rochester, New York. But there was also an interesting uncle – a writer, who was quite famous in his day. I first encountered Jerre Mangione while transcribing his handwritten letters to Jack Conroy, author of The Disinherited. [Read more…] about The Many Mangiones of Rochester
A century ago this year, Josephine Baker traveled on a one way ticket from Philadelphia to New York City, having left her recently-wed husband behind.
Born an illegitimate child in a St Louis ghetto on June 3, 1906, Freda Josephine McDonald had a dismal childhood of poverty living in an area of rooming houses, run-down apartments and brothels near Union Station. The city was beset by racial tension and violence. [Read more…] about Josephine Baker and Illustrator Paul Colin
This week on The Historians Podcast, Cosby Gibson and Tom Staudle perform songs of the American Revolution. [Read more…] about Songs of the American Revolution
This week on The Historians Podcast, composer Maria Riccio Bryce, an Amsterdam, NY, native, discusses her new choral work Requiem: What Remains Is Love. [Read more…] about Amsterdam Composer Unveils ‘Requiem,’ Her Latest Work
Musician Nicola Matteis arrived in London in the early 1670s. Describing himself as “Napolitano,” he was the first Baroque violinist of note active in the capital. Very much his own promoter, he published his Arie diverse per il violin in 1676, a collection of 120 pieces for solo violin. A second extended edition with an English title-page appeared two years later. In 1685, he published the third and fourth parts of the famous Ayres for the Violin.
Matteis is credited with changing English taste for violin from the French to the Italian style of playing. Soon after, attention shifted from performer to instrument which sparked a veritable cult of Cremonese violins. The name Stradivari became a metaphor for perfection attained by a combination of individual genius, skill and attention to detail. [Read more…] about Cremona to Central Park: Stradivari & Nahan Franko’s Legacy
This episode of Ben Franklin’s World is the final of a 5-episode series about music in Early America.
Jon Beebe, a Jazz pianist, professional musician, and an interpretive ranger at the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park, leads listeners on an exploration of how and why African rhythms and beats came to play important roles in the musical history and musical evolution of the Untied States. [Read more…] about Jazz & African and African American Musical History