Victorian-era music

What exactly would a Victorian Gentleman have in his iPod? (Well, he wouldn’t have an iPod, I’m just being metaphorical). There’s quite a variety of victorian-era music, from music-hall songs to opera to folk music to classical to music-box tunes, but a lot of it is pretty obscure nowadays. So I’d really like some help going trough the musical aspects of Victorian culture. Let’s not be too fussied, shall we? If you got a good early 1900s tune you’d like to share, go for it, or even a modern band that plays in a neovictorian style (I could go on forever about Steampunk music…).

On the subject of Music Hall songs, let’s start with Ella Shields famous song Burlington Bertie from Bow, she was an artist an male impersonator, she’s got more style than most gentlemen I know…

This is something that fasciantes me, there are two songs that both share the same melody, one if the marching song When Johnny come marching home again the other is an irish anti-war song called Johnny I hardly knew you, I’ve yet to find out if the latter is a riff on the former or the former is a cleaned-up version of the latter or if they both have their orgin in an older melody. I think I lean more towards the idea that this is a riff on the marching song, since it makes sense to take a millitary song and twist it into an anti-war message.

Speaking of songs that have an interesting history, the song Wild rover, was, I’ve been told, a Temperance song originally, even though I’ve always heard it as a drinking song, that’s pretty ironic.

As a side note here, what’s considered “irish music” when it comes to irish folk group and st patricks day celebration is often quite fuzzy. Many people play fast and loose with the definition and you’ll get things like scottish ballads or english songs being marketed as “irish”, cus that’s the one thing people know. Case in point, this song: Dirty old Town, is an english song rather than an irish one, and it only dates back to the 50s. Still a good song though, it’s just not “irish” by any stretch of the word.

Allright, one music hall song, one marching song and one folk song, that should be enough to get people started, anyone else got music they’d like to share?

(According to Wikipedia, Johnny I hardly knew you is an older song, but the two melodies aren’t necessarily related - albeit similar, they could have evloved independently in Ireland and the United States, according to Donald O’Sullivan).

Well, for purely campanilistic reasons I’m gonna cite opera music - most of the best and most known operas were composed in this period. Having a brief look: Verdi’s Aida - first represented in 1871; Rigoletto - 1851; La Traviata - 1853; Gioachino Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia - 1814. And I have to ignore most of Puccini’s work, considering Turandot wasn’t out until 1895 . four years after the current in-game date (a shame: Nessun dorma or Che gelida manina would have been great additions to the collection).

So I’d say:

  • For the Persuasive, flirtatious gentleman: Libiamo ai lieti calici (from La Traviata);
  • For the Dangerous (and those with Nemesis Ambition): Sì, vendetta, tremenda vendetta (from Rigoletto);
  • For the Watchful: E’ là il vostr’uomo (from Rigoletto);
  • For the Shadowy: Vola talor dal carcere (from Il Corsaro);
  • For the Heartless: La donna è mobile (from Rigoletto: it doubles as High Octane Nightmare Fuel for those who know the actual plot of the second execution of this song on stage);
  • For the Melancholy: Va’ pensiero (from Nabucco);
  • For those with high Nightmares: Una macchia è qui tutt’ora (from Verdi’s Macbeth).

I guess that is possible, I have no trouble believing that a melody simple enough as “da dum da dum da dum da da, da-du da-dum” could evolve in two places independently of each other. I have however, a hard time believing that there would exist two songs, both about war and both about “Johnny”, without them having at least something to do with each others. But “Johnny” is about the most common first name of a folk-song character ever, so I’m not ruling it out.

Of course I ned to mention Gilbert & Sullivan, I suspect everyone has heard of this, or at least a parody of this? On that note:

I am the very model of a Neaty individual
got Cryptic clues both infernal and redual
Know all the marks of The Correspondence, though my hair did burt into flames
Only mystery I have yet to know, whatever happened to the river Thames?
I’m very well-acquainted too with Forgotten-quarter Archeology
and I know every little secret of exceptional rose-biology
and like the Spite-side kittens I am teeming with a lot o’ news…
Lot of news, let’s see here…
And I know all the Zailor captains and the names of their rag-tag crews

CHOIR: He knows all the Zailor captains and the names of their rag-tag crews…

I was going to say Gilbert and Sullivan if no one said it before.

During the late 1800s, things where happening to folk music. Industrialization where transforming the culture drastically overall, and folk music, true to form started to reflect this change. The toils and harsh conditions of the factories became immortalized in songs such as Poverty Knock and others. This aspect of folk music was often overlooked since it didn’t really fit the romantic rural idea of traditional folk music, but it was one of the influences on the folk revival in the 60s.