American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860
Table of Contents
Music Copyrighted in Federal District Courts, ca. 1820-1860:

Composers from Abroad

From 1820 to 1860, America hosted many European musicians whose sojourns affected American music and society. Some musicians, who arrived when they were relatively young and pursued their careers primarily in America, have been treated as American composers (see, for example, Charles Grobe, above). Others, who were temporary visitors, also had an impact on American culture.

image: caption following
Jenny Lind's greeting to America
by Jules Benedict.

The 1850-52 American tour of the Swedish soprano Jenny Lind , initially sponsored by Phineas T. Barnum, sparked the publication of more pieces of music than any other contemporary event. Some of these works are pieces from the standard repertoire republished with Jenny Lind's picture on the cover; but many others represent her repertoire or genuine reactions to her visit. Of particular interest are Julius Benedict's "Jenny Lind's Greeting to America" and the phenomenally successful "Jenny Lind Polka". A copy of Robert Schumann's I Can But Weep has a useful list of songs sung by Jenny Lind. Barnum was also the subject of several pieces, as was the diminutive celebrity known as General Tom Thumb (Charles Sherwood Stratton), a featured attraction first at Barnum's American Museum and then on tour.

Other European singers also generated many important pieces of music. Among these singers were Anna Bishop, Catherine Hayes, and Teresa Parodi. The soprano Henriette Sontag owes her frequent appearance in this collection to the great popularity of Giulio Alari's Sontag Polka, a piece even more popular than the Jenny Lind Polka. The ballerina Fanny Elssler is also represented by many pieces. "The Belle of Louisville," a comic song, comments on the tours of Jenny Lind, Anna Bishop, and Catherine Hayes.

Among visiting instrumentalists, the Norwegian violinist Ole Bull (1810-1880) is noteworthy for having toured America in the years 1843-45, then returning in 1852-53 in an attempt to found a Norwegian colony in the United States.

American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860