Wednesday, December 10th, 2014...5:29 pm

The town musicians of Houghton

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Gervasius Redler came to Paris from Alsace in the early 19th century, and set up shop as a piano teacher. Around 1840, he began publishing dance music in the popular styles of the day, particularly quadrilles.

*98TW-10.355 title page

*98TW-10.355 title page



His music was popular enough to be picked up by London publishers, who in the 1850s began to reprint many of his works. This coincided with a flourishing period of cover illustrations, and voila, some unusual dance orchestras.

*98TW-10.356 title page

*98TW-10.356 title page

The Musical Bouquet series printed several of his quadrilles in 1855, and true to their style of the time, printed topical lithographed illustrations on the covers. I just love all the different characters made evident by the seriousness of the musicians.

*98TW-10.357 title page

*98TW-10.357 title page

John M. Ward, the donor of the collection in which these quadrilles appeared, was particularly interested in social dance, and how it reflected and documented the popular culture of the day. This gloomy, rainy day has been brightened considerably for me, by imagining how Professor Ward must have loved these little orchestras.

*98TW-10.358 title page

*98TW-10.358 title page

Clearly the illustrations were popular with the public as well, since the one from Les souris above, has been reproduced here, now featuring the monkeys. With the Crimean War taking such heavy casualties, all luridly reported in illustrated detail in the newspapers, the year 1855 must have been hard on England. But I’m guessing that these little ambassadors of cheer did their part to help lift spirits.

[Thanks to Andrea Cawelti, Ward Music Cataloger, for contributing this post.]

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