Marches of the Civil War




It is my plan to publish something related to the Civil War every month until the sesquicentennial of Lincoln’s assassination four years from now. By that time, if I am even able to come close to finishing the project, I will become very familiar with the Library of Congress’ Civil War Sheet Music Collection. I have just looked through the list of the 412 marches in the collection (out of an entire collection of 2576 pieces of published sheet music. There are pieces written both by Northern and Southern sympathizers, although I have only glanced at the contents and have … Continue reading

Musical tributes to a Civil War martyr: Elmer Ellsworth




On May 24, 1861, Lt. Elmer Ellsworth, commander of the army unit that occupied Alexandria, Virginia, saw a Confederate flag flying over one of the hotels in town. Offended, he rushed to the roof to take it down. The hotel proprietor shot him. Ellsworth became the first northern officer to die in the Civil War. What is this piece of information doing in a music blog? Because the death of this very popular officer caused an outpouring of musical tributes from all over the country. In fact, of all the people who ever lived in Chicago, more music was written … Continue reading

Clara Louise Kellogg: the soprano vs the Civil War




This month marks the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War, which had tremendous impact on American music. Clara Louise Kellogg, the first American-born singer to achieve success in Europe, began her career shortly before the war broke out. Before she could have any hope of success abroad, she had to be successful at home. Of course, the war made that difficult. Kellogg was born in Sumterville, South Carolina in 1842, but her parents moved to Derby, Connecticut later that year. Once her musical talent became evident, the family moved to New York City so she could receive a proper … Continue reading

Brass Bands of the American Civil War




I like to look around on YouTube from time to time. I recently typed “brass band” into the search engine, and a video called “Brass Bands of the Civil War” came up on the first page of results. I wondered how that subject could possibly work in a video. I have seen “videos” with a single photograph and music playing in the background. This one has a collage of wonderful photos and drawings while the Federal City Brass Band plays on period instruments. At the time of the Civil War, brass bands ruled. Few bands included woodwinds. As the photographs … Continue reading

Popular song in America, part 7: Civil War Songs




Issues of slavery and states rights so divided the nation that the American Civil War broke out as soon as Abraham Lincoln was proclaimed President-elect. It lasted four years, but strangely music unified the opposing armies at times.   Two publishers, the Chicago’s Root & Cady and Boston’s Oliver Ditson, account for the bulk of the North’s best war songs. George Frederick Root, brother of one of the Root & Cady’s founders, wrote “Battle Cry of Freedom,” “Vacant Chair,” “Just Before the Battle, Mother,” “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp,” and Brother, Tell Me of the Battle.” Henry Clay Work, who also published with … Continue reading