Sheet music sales achieved an all-time high in 1910, on the strength of songs like "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" and "Down by the Old Mill Stream", at a time when every respectable parlor in the country had a piano. These songs come from a time when music was performed in the home for entertainment, not listened to on the phonograph or radio; a time when music was a part of daily life--not passively consumed, but actively participated in.
The worth of the songs is clear: they were written for an audience that had more time to listen, an audience whose ears had not been dulled by constant background music. They represent the pinnacle of songwriting that began in English parlors of the mid-19th century--art songs for the English-speaking masses. Soprano Maria Jette and pianist Sonja Thompson will take us on a tour of some of the most popular songs from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, ranging from timeless classics by Stephen Foster to lesser-known gems from this musically rich but often forgotten period in history. Selections will include "Danny Boy", "After the Ball", "Home, Sweet Home", and even a few piano treasures like Scott Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag.