Dancing by the Shore: Victorian Music from Nahant


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Nahant, a town north of Boston, became a resort mecca very early on and was popular throughout the Victorian era. The lively dance melodies performed here by Spare Parts come from the Nahant Historical Society's archives. Spare Parts specializes in dance music from many eras; they bring a dance lilt to all their performances. Liz Stell (flute) and Bill Matthiesen (piano) are joined by Ruthie Dornfeld on violin.


This CD includes:

1. Sea Serpent Polka by M. Strakosh, 1850 (2:20) [audio sample]
“To Miss Rose Kennedy of New Orleans.” This piece, in the keys of Eb and Ab, is a classic example of a midcentury polka. The Sea Serpent was sighted on Boston's North Shore several times, most notably off of Nahant in 1819. The illustration on the cover of the sheet music shows a splendid large serpent at sea (its head looks remarkably like a terrestrial snake) with Boston's Beacon Hill in the distance.

2. Nahant March by W.H. Thomas, 1884 (4:34)
The feeling of this march is similar to early Sousa marches, which date to the same period. Our version is adapted from multi-piece band arrangement published by W.H. Cundy of Boston, MA in 1884.

3–7. Nahant Quadrilles by John H. Hewitt, 1836
No. 1 – Rebecca (3:17)
No. 2 – Estelle (1:40)
No. 3 – Laura (1:56) [audio sample]
No. 4 – Georgette (2:36) [audio sample]
No. 5 – Sophia (2:03)

“Dedicated to Miss Rebecca Willson of Boston.” The illustration on the sheet music shows a lovely nautical scene by Fitz Hugh Lane, with the Nahant Hotel in the distance. John Hill Hewitt, according to the New Grove Dictionary, “has often been named the first successful native American composer of songs.” He's the son of James Hewitt, composer of the Nahant Waltz.

8. Col. Lowell’s Quick Step by B.A. Burditt, 1838 (5:20) [audio sample]
“As performed at Nahant July 6, 1838. Respectfully dedicated to the Officers and Members of the Independent Company of Cadets by the Boston Brigade Band.” A nineteenth century quick step is described as a "spirited" military march.

9. Nahant Polka by Ludwig Stasny
“Composed & Dedicated to Mess’rs Paran & J.E.P. Stevens, Proprietors of the Nahant House.” The illustration on the sheet music shows the Nahant Hotel (also known as the Nahant House), which was built in 1823 by Colonel Thomas H. Perkins; in the 1850s the management was taken over by Mess'rs Paran and Stevens. The hotel burned down in 1861.

10–14. The Lancer's Quadrilles
No. 1 – La Dorset (1:54)
No. 2 – Lodoiska (2:00)
No. 3 – La Native (1:34)
No. 4 – Les Graces (2:00)
No. 5 – Les Lanciers (3:56)

One of the most popular quadrille sets throughout the nineteenth century was The Lancer's. This orchestration is adapted from The Star Collection of Instrumental Music by John W. Moore (1858); at the top, the original states “As danced at Nahant, Newport, Saratoga, and Other Fashionable Places.”

15. Nahant Waltz by James Hewitt, c.1827 (4:19) [audio sample]
The music-box sound of this waltz is typical of the first quarter of the nineteenth century, when waltzes first began to achieve popularity. Hewitt (1770-1822) was a British conductor and composer who came to the U.S. in 1792. The original version of this waltz was published by his son in Boston between 1825 and 1829. This versionis is adapted from one published in a much later collection.

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33 Stormview Road,
Lanesboro, MA 01237

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bill@bfv.com
413-442-9172


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