It's October! That means we can start with Halloween-themed posts, right?
I was recently made aware of the fact that there are a number of sheet music covers with witches in the Lester S. Levy Collection at the Johns Hopkins University Sheridan Libraries Special Collections. So just in time for Halloween, I'll share some of them here!
Snakes, lizards, bats, and cauldrons: this image has it all. And we all know the fiddle is the devil's instrument, so it's no surprise he's playing, but who's that other fellow in the tree? Paganini?
Dedicated to composer and violin virtuoso Nicolo Paganini, this work inspired by The Celebrated Witches' Dance was apparently first performed in London. The inside reads, "It is however due to state, that among some composers of eminence in the British Capital, the celebrated Thomas Welsh, Esq. has treated the Italian subject, but was compelled to leave it unfinished in consequence of numerous avocations, and at his earnest and complimentary request, A.P. Heinrich continued & completed it."
The original of this piece was probably performed sometime between 1827 and 1832, when Heinrich was in London and Welsh owned the publishing for the Royal Harmonic Institution where it was first performed. This American version may have been performed as early as 1831, when Mrs. Sophia Ostinelli played a benefit for Mr. James Kendall.
Here, the devil on a white horse chases the witch on her broomstick as bats flock around them. And is that a cherub?
The Witches Flight; Galop Caprice is another tune with force and might, that gives the sense of a witch on a broomstick, zipping through the air. I couldn't find a lot about H.M. Russell or this piece of music.
And there is one more cover, but it get's a whole different post... Stay tuned.
Come in, the stacks are open.
Away from prying eyes, damaging light, and pilfering hands, the most special collections are kept in closed stacks. You need an appointment to view the objects, letters, and books that open a door to the past.