Sean and Deirdre Murtha will present Songs of the Civil War at the Rowayton Library on Sunday, March 25 at 4pm.
For the first One Hundred years or so of its existence, the music of America remained, at least on the surface, an imitation of the music of Europe. The unique blend of cultures that would eventually be called “American” was taking shape quietly and unnoticed. On the wooded frontier, in the cotton fields of the south, and among the immigrants in the poorer parts of the industrial cities, musical forms and styles were developing, but heard by few. It took the unfortunate tragedy and social upheaval of the Civil War to bring them to the surface. The meeting of city with country, north with south, and black with white opened up many musical ideas, and songwriters responded with a wealth of issues to write about. There were marching songs, sentimental songs about soldiers and their sweethearts, ballads about battles, political songs and anthems of hope. Many of these songs were immensely popular, on both sides of the conflict, and many are still known today, 150 years later. They are among the first musical works that can be called distinctly “American.”
This program consists of a variety of these songs, played on instruments of the period such as fiddle, piano, and banjo. We sill discuss and demonstrate the cultural origins of the various musical styles and instruments (for instance, the African origin of the banjo), and we involve the audience with singable choruses and foot-stomping rhythms. Refreshments and family fun. Everyone is invited. Reservations appreciated. This program is free and open to the public.
This program is made possible through a challenge grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council and the Library is proud to partner with the Rowayton Arts Center and the Rowayton Historical Society.