Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Music of the Civil War

The Civil War began 150 years ago with the Battle of Fort Sumter in South Carolina.  This war was a definitive war in American history, and the music of the time helped to define American identity as well.  Unlike the years of the American Revolution, music of the time was often published and much of it survived.

 You may be familiar with the soundtrack to the PBS series, "The Civil War," by Ken Burns.  "Ashokan Farewell," the haunting violin melody from the series became associated with the Civil War, but most music of the time was for voice with piano, or piano alone.  A few are still well known, such as the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."  Popular music of the day was spread by traveling minstrel troupes.  Some of Stephen Foster's songs come from this tradition.
Sheet music for many Civil War songs has been preserved by American libraries can be found online in digital format.  Ball State Libraries' Digital Media Repository has some Civil War Songs in the Hague Sheet Music Collection

Check out some of these Compact Discs:

Sheet Music of theCivil War

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