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Collection Music for the Nation: American Sheet Music, ca. 1870 to 1885


In 1876 the periodical Church's Musical Visitor polled its readers to find their favorite writers of vocal and instrumental music. The result of the poll was:

Today one would compile a different list of composers published in America in the 1870s (to list American writers of popular songs alone: Stephen Foster, Henry Clay Work, James Bland, and David Braham). This list is somewhat skewed even for 1876: George W. Persley owes his high position among vocal composers to the fact that he was much-published in Church's Musical Visitor. It does suggest the variety of music that was loved in America during this period. All the composers on this list are here for the curious to discover, along with many others who wrote music in America during the 1870s and 1880s in the hope of achieving immortality or cash. They can tell us what Americans were like thirteen decades ago; their music is there to be enjoyed by performers and listeners alike.

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