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Come hear the luminous soprano Elizabeth Weigle this Sunday at 2 PM at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church.  We’re performing music of Haydn, Schubert, Debussy, Cole Porter, and Benjamin Boyle.  Free Will Donation.P1000987


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Over the course of the past year, my usual research focus has shifted from England at the turn of the nineteenth century to America in the middle of the 1800s.  I’ve been studying keyboard battle pieces of the Civil War, which were marketed to amateur pianists.  Many of these works were modeled after European battle pieces, particularly Kotzwara’s (in)famous Battle of Prague, originally published in 1788; they enact military battles in musical rhetoric, mimicking the sounds of cannon fire, galloping horses, victory dances, and more.   Some were published just weeks after the conflict that they depict.pittsburgh3

Studying these works has uncovered some fascinating glimpses into Civil War life.  In particular, the pieces attest to the huge impact that the media had on civilian wartime experiences.  News from the front was often communicated via telegraph, which helped civilians to stay abreast of the latest events in the conflict.  Some Civil War battle pieces include text excerpted from telegraph accounts of combat that had been published in the newspaper.  Pianists may well have recited the text as they performed, or they may have been joined by a friend who took on the role of orator.  Many pieces were virtuosic, including dramatic physical gestures, and some included surprise effects, like a whistling part executed by the pianist as she played.

I’ll be performing sections from some of these works and talking about them in the context of their historical moment at West Chester University on April 9 and at Fordham University on April 18.  The results of my study of Civil War battle pieces will be published in the Journal of the Society for American Music later this year.

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weigle posterPlease join me for a recital with soprano Elizabeth Weigle on Tuesday November 5 at SJU.  We’re performing a stunning set of songs by Philadelphia composer Benjamin C. S. Boyle entitled Folksongs from Another World, as well as music by Debussy, Schubert, and Cole Porter.  The recital is at 7:30 PM in the Chapel of Saint Joseph.  Admission is free.

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The spring 2013 meeting of the American Musicological Society Mid-Atlantic Chapter will take place April 27 at the University of Delaware, beginning at 9:30 AM.  For more information, visit our chapter website:


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Playing the pianoforte in Austen’s house in 2006

On Friday, May 25, I’ll be performing a conversational recital program of music that Jane Austen studied as an amateur pianist at the Piedmont Center for the Arts in Piedmont, California.  It’s a program that I’ve performed a number of times, both here and in the UK.

As a woman of the middle class in Georgian-era England, Austen studied the pianoforte as one of her feminine accomplishments.  Her collection of sheet music, which was passed on through her family and eventually archived, included works in numerous styles: solo keyboard pieces, chamber works, and songs.  Some of the music that she owned is actually written out in her own hand; Austen must’ve borrowed sheet music from friends and family members and made copies by hand so that she could continue to play a work after returning the score.

In 2006, I spent a week at Austen’s former home in Chawton, Hampshire, studying the music in her collection.  (The musical notebooks have since been moved to the Hampshire Records Office.)  It was amazing to sit in the author’s kitchen, sorting through sheet music written in her own hand, imagining her life and music’s role in it.  I have since returned to Chawton many times, including in the summer of 2009 when I gave a recital at Austen’s house to celebrate the 200 year anniversary of her moving there.  

Information about my upcoming conversational recital of music from Austen’s notebooks can be found at http://www.piedmontcenterforthearts.org.

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You’re invited to a free solo recital that I’m giving at St. Joe’s on March 15.  I’m performing Brahms’s moving 6 Klavierstücke, Opus 118, as well as two of my favorite works by the Czech composer Leos Janacek: his Piano Sonata and Book 1 of On the Overgrown Path. The recital is in Bluett Theatre at 7:30 PM.

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This Saturday, 2/18, the mid-Atlantic chapter of the American Musicological Society is meeting at St. Joe’s.  The chapter has been dormant for a number of years and this is the first step toward reviving it.  All pertinent information about the event can be found here: http://amsmidatlantic.wordpress.com.  If you are a faculty member, graduate student, undergrad, independent scholar, performer, or just someone with an interest in musicology, please join us!

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