Saturday, June 5, 2010

Getting in Tune with G.: the Soundtrack

You can't have a proper adventure without a good soundtrack.  As my dad, my mom and I drove around northern Minnesota and North Dakota earlier this week, researching the life of my great-grandfather, we had the perfect musical accompaniment: songs that G. Oliver's Crookston band performed in the early 1900s.

Songs The Crookston Band Played
Volumes 1 & 2
Crookston Road Trip 2010

The Crookston City Band, circa 1900.  Director G. Oliver Riggs is in the center.

Unfortunately, we don't have recordings of the actual band concerts.  But thanks to my husband, Steve, we had the next best thing: a two-volume CD of vintage concert tunes.  By searching sites like iTunes, eMusic and Amazon, Steve was able to find many of the songs listed in the Crookston concert programs that G. Oliver or his wife, Islea, had pasted into a family scrapbook.  Steve downloaded the songs, burned them on two CDs, and designed an origami paper case for each volume.  

Having the appropriate background music helped put us in tune with G. Oliver's creative genius, which may be why the research trip was so successful.

As I listened to the CDs, I was struck by a couple of thoughts:
• It's clear that G. Oliver valued keeping concerts fresh and up-to-date with the latest music; there are few repeat songs.  He must have challenged his bands to keep learning new music each week (kind of like the TV show "Glee," now that I think of it).
• Each concert included a variety of music, and not just what you might think of as typical band music.  The program usually included a march, by Sousa or another composer, but the band also played popular songs of the day, and classical music that highlighted the talents of soloists – out-of-town guest vocalists, Islea on the piano, or G. Oliver himself on violin or cornet.
• Some of the songs I enjoy most are ones I'd never heard before; it's a shame they aren't more widely known and more frequently performed.

Here is a list of all the songs on the CDs, with the name of each composer and the date the song was performed at a Crookston concert, if known (some programs are undated).  I've included Amazon links to some of them, if you'd like to hear a sample. 

A favorite of Steve's and mine is the The Bohemian Girl, Galop by Balfe, performed the day before my birthday in 1900 (it's No. 12, Vol. 1).

Volume One:
1. Robin Hood: Overture
Reginald De Koven
performed on December 18, 1899

2. The Charlatan March
John Philip Sousa
performed on April 21, 1899

3. Squeegee Polka
Casey
performed on January 18, 1899

4. Polonaise No. 1 in D major, Op. 4
Henryk Wieniawski
performed on December 9, 1898

5. La Serenata
Paolo Tosti
performed on April 19, 1901

6. Coronation March
Giacomo Meyerbeer
performed on February 15, 1901

7. The Year's at the Spring
Amy Beach
performed on March 3, 1908

8. Kamenniy-ostrov
Anton Rubinstein
performed on February 15, 1901

9. Valse Brillante
Herbert Clarke
performed on March 16, 1909
Mr. G.O. Riggs, cornet soloist

10. La Czarine
Louis Ganne
unknown date of performance

11. Faust: Overture
Charles Gounod
performed November 9, unknown year

12. The Bohemian Girl, Galop
Michael William Balfe
performed on December 12, 1900

13. The Stars and Stripes ForeverThe Stars and Stripes Forever
John Philip Sousa
performed on February 17, 1899

Volume Two:
1. Angel's Serenade
Gaetano Braga
performed February 8, unknown year

2. Don Giovanni: Overture
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
performed on April 21, 1899

3. Star Spangled Banner
John Stafford Smith
performed on March 16, 1909

4. Caeser's Triumphal March
G.F. Mitchell
unknown date of performance

5. Rigoletto – Paraphrase de Concert
Franz Liszt
performed on April 21, 1899
Mrs. Islea Riggs, soloist

6. Standchen (Serenade)
Franz Schubert
performed on December 18, 1899

7. Boys of the Old Brigade March
William Paris Chambers
performed on April 19, 1901

8. Roméo et Juliette: Ah! Je veux vivre
Charles Gounod
performed on March 3, 1908

9. Poet and Peasant: Overture
Franz von Suppé
performed on January 18, 1901

10. Il Trovatore: Miserere d'un'alma già vicina
Giuseppe Verdi
performed on December 12, 1900

11. The Bride Elect
John Philip Sousa
performed August 11, unknown year

12. Waltz in E major
Moritz Moszkowski
performed on january 18, 1899

13. Cavatina for Violin and Orchestra, Op. 85, No. 3
Joseph Joachim Raff
performed on December 9, 1898

14. Mattinata
Paolo Tosti
performed April 17, unknown year

15. Legende, Op. 17
Henryk Wieniawski
performed August 11, unknown year

16. Chicago Tribune March
William Paris Chambers
performed on December 12, 1900

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Your husband must've put a lot of work into that. Thanks for sharing these wonderful songs!

    ReplyDelete