Sheet Music Deep Dive: Balloons

In 1793, Jean-Pierre Blanchard became the first to fly a balloon over the English channel. 8 years later, he took off from a Philadelphia prison yard in the first manned balloon flight in the United States. The rise of ballooning quickly captured the imaginations of composers and lithographers. El Globo Contradanza has no publisher or […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Ferris Wheels

The original Ferris wheel was unveiled at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago, designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr. Leading up to the fair, the revolutionary attraction was heavily advertised in the Chicago Daily Tribune– it first appeared in print on February 25, 1893 (2 months before the fair opened): “On the Midway Plaisance […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Prohibition

The temperance movement in the United States started in the 18th century, advocating for the abstention from alcohol and drugs. Organizations including the Anti Saloon League and Womens Christian Temperance Union campaigned successfully for the 18th amendment to the constitution, which prohibited the possession and manufacture of alcohol from 1920 to 1933. Prohibition songs can […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Volcanoes

During my sophomore year of music school, I took a class in earth science. There I learned about the loudest sound in recorded history—the 1883 eruption of the Krakatoa volcano that was heard 3,000 miles away. To put the distance into perspective, that would be the equivalent of an explosion in Seattle being heard in […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Flowers

With Spring flowers in full bloom, this week’s deep dive celebrates the many floral lithograph covers in the Levy Sheet Music Collection. It took a while to choose my favorites (almost 500 songs are tagged with the subject heading “flowers,”) and as I’m far from a florist, I’ll refrain from trying to identify any of […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Insects

Now that it’s Spring in Baltimore and cicadas are starting to emerge from their seventeen-year sleep, I thought this week would be a good time to dive into the collection’s holdings on insects. Not surprisingly, insects have made their way onto quite a few lithograph covers. This ornate flower basket printed in 1860 has at […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Aerialists

Scrolling through the alphabetical list of subjects in the Levy collection, one that caught my eye early on was “aerialists.” I wasn’t expecting to see many songs in this category, and I certainly wasn’t expecting to find a few stunning lithograph covers: One immensely popular song seems to have been “The Flying Trapeze,” published in […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Maps

With a sheet music mapping project in the works (stay tuned!), I decided to spend this week combing the Levy Sheet Music Collection in search of maps. One of the first songs that caught my eye when looking for maps in the collection is the Atlantic Telegraph Schottisch. This stunning lithograph cover was done by […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Witchcraft

One of the greatest movies to come out of the 1990’s was Hocus Pocus, with Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Kathy Najimy. From Binx the talking cat to the iconic “I Put A Spell on You” dance scene, the movie has become a cult classic—and although we’re far from Halloween, I thought I’d spend […]

Sheet Music Deep Dive: Puppets

Over the past year, the pandemic has given me plenty of time to re-watch all of my favorite movies. In revisiting Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The Sound Of Music, I rediscovered the delightful puppet show set to a song called “The Lonely Goatherd.” Inspired by this adorable scene (and because everybody loves puppets), I thought I’d […]