Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829 – 1869) was the American musical superstar of the mid-Nineteenth Century. The issue of a German-Jewish father and a Creole mother, he early demonstrated executive prodigality at the keyboard and his knack for effective composition. During the Civil War, Gottschalk proclaimed his loyalty to the Union and toured the North playing his patriotic fantasias to wildly receptive audiences. A longtime resident of Oswego, New York, I feel compelled to report that Gottschalk visited that fair city no less than three times between 1858 and 1864, professing his belief that its young women were the fairest in all the States! “The Banjo,” described in French as a “fantaisie grotesque,” takes inspiration from what in Gottschalk’s day went by the name of “Negro Music.” It develops an original, largely rhythmic motif, and quotes Stephen Foster’s “Camptown Races” in its finale. There is more by Gottschalk below, as well as songs by Henry Clay Work. A New Yorker, Work was Foster’s equal by any measure, but, because his fondness for “Slave Dialect” offends PC, he is today little known.
Some people might remember Allan Sherman