The Sound of 19th-Century California Sheet Music
Bandmaster August Wetterman
The California Sheet Music Project, under the direction of Mary Kay
Duggan (Univ. of Calif., Berkeley), has received a donation of sound and
video files that can bring to web viewers an idea of performances of the
repertoire then and today. Corinne Swall, founder of the Mother Lode
Musical Theatre, and Kenneth Brungess, music director of the Gold Rush
Cornet Band, have donated sound and video files for translation to
Internet formats, with originals available in the Music Library of the
University of California, Berkeley. A concert
sponsored by Music Sources of Berkeley made up of instrumental and vocal
sheet music from the collection is available is video segments.
The Mother Lode Musical Theatre created a tape entitled "Mother Lode
Musical Theatre Performs Victorian Parlor Ballads and Saloon Songs from
the Mid-19th Century (MHC 312181Z; Musical Heritage Society).
The Gold Rush Cornet Band under the
direction of Kenneth Brungess created a tape recording entitled "Motherlode!
Musical Nuggets from the 1850s, '60s, & '70s" (High Bias Cr02;
Nineteenth-century brass instruments and
authentic recreations of the rope-tension drums of the period create an
historically accurate sound. Bands were a part
of every conceivable type of civic and social celebration held in the gold
country from 1850 until the turn of the century. Gold seekers brought their
instruments with them across the plains or around the Horn, or ordered
them from music merchants in Sacramento and San Francisco to be delivered
to the mining camps and towns by Wells Fargo stage coach. Go to
"Gold Rush Brass Bands and their music" for
details of early sheet music for band, bands, and performances, and listen to:
"I Have Found Thee, But Too Late" by composer
Stephen Massett (San Francisco: Sherman & Clay, 1877) presents
two proper Victorian lovers in that most frustrating of circumstances, the
wrong time and the wrong place. Duet arrangement by Monroe Kanouse; sung by
Corinne Swall with accompaniment by Monroe Kanouse.
"Bright Things Never Die" by G. F. Rimbault
(San Francisco: Salvator Rosa, 1862) embodies the sentiment of the
deathlessness of beauty and "minstrelsy."
"Silver on her Heels" by San Francisco band
leader Charles Schultz (San Francisco: Matthias Gray, c.1870) includes a
dance break and the lyrics suggest the staging that would have been used
at the Bella Union Melodeon with its painted drop curtain and crystal
chandeliers. Web users can view four different photographs of singer
Emelie Melville that were attached to the printed covers of issues of the
sheet music. Sung by Corinne Swall, accompanied, with cadenza,
by Monroe Kanouse.
- "El Trobador/The Troubadour," arranged by W. J. McCoy
and published by him in 1895
in a series entitled "Canciones del Pais de California.
- "Champagne Charlie" by Alfred Lee (San Francisco
: Matthias Gray, 1872) describes the drink
favored by early San Francisco gentlemen as the refinements of Europe were
transplanted to the West. Sung by Corinne Swall, soprano, and Lawrence
- A sequel to the famous Charlie above is
"Moet and Chandon" by George Leybourne,
arranged by H. Hurrille (San Francisco: Matthias Gray, 1872). One
issue has an elegant photo of "The Great Vivian" on the cover. Sung by
Linda Purday, mezzo-soprano and the ensemble of the Mother Lode Musical
- "Home, Sweet Home." The lyrics by
John Howard Payne were set to music by Sir Henry Bishop in the early 19th
century. The song was the most popular tune on both sides of the Civil War
and was printed in San Francisco about 1862 (arranged by G. J. Webb for
solo, duet, or trio) and about 1870 (arranged by J. H. Slack). At social
gatherings, "Home, Sweet Home" was the musical signal that the evening's
dancing and entertainment had come to an end.
"The Flood Mazurka." The lithograph on the cover shows "J" Street under
water in one of Sacramento's recurring floods. Several business establishments
are clearly drawn, including that of publisher E. L. Ripley Music Store.
"The Railroad Galop." Published in Sacramento in 1869 in
celebration of the completion of the transcontinental railroad, the sheet
music tells us that the music is "as played by Willis' Band at the
Mechanics' Industrial Fair". Joseph
Gungl (1810-1889), a well-known Hungarian-born bandmaster, composed
hundreds of popular dance pieces and marches.
"The Independent City Guards Quick Step" was "dedicated to the
Sacramento Union Brass Band, and played by them on the occasion of the
visit of the Guards to San Francisco, Sept. 27, 1858." The composer was
transplanted Swedish bandmaster August Wetterman (1828-1923),
who had formed the band
in 1856 of professional musicians. The band was engaged to accompany the
City Guards to perform at the celebration of the completion of the laying
of the Atlantic Cable. August Wetterman tells us in a letter to the State
Librarian (April 5, 1919) about their uniforms:
The Sacramento Brass Band uniform which I designed . . . was similar to
what I wore in the Swedish Army before coming to California. Coat,
pantaloons and cap were made out of fine navy-blue broad-cloth, length of coat
extending a few inches below the knees, with gilded brass buttons and faced
with red cloth and gold braid, on the side seams of pants was a narrow
stripe of red cloth with gold braid on each side, shape of cap
similar to what the American Army wore 30-40 years ago [1880s], on top was
a round worsted boll (made by my wife, represented the American flag). Mrs.
Wetterman also made out of worsted, a belt for the waist with blue
and yellow stripes. A gilded lyre with red cloth underneath was placed in
front ot the cap. The lyre was designed by me and made by the Swedish
jeweler firm, Fredrik and Hampus Lundquist, both brothers arrived at
Sacramento [in] 1855. (Courtesy, Dr. Rees B. Rees and David Rees)
Bandmaster Wetterman's journal has just been edited by Kenneth
Brungess as The
Journal of August Wetterman: Memoir of a Gold Rush Bandmaster (Gilded
49 Parkview Circle, Corte Madera, CA 94925-1272).