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Or. Spell is widely known for her researches into the history of music in Mexico, Texas, and the American Southwest, and has been a contributor to numerous historical and musical journals andto the Encyclopedia Americana. With herhusband, a professor at tlie University of Texas, Dr. Spell makes her home in Austin, Texas. Music in Texas LOTA M . SPELL in the decade immediately preceding the Civil War Texas had made great advances musically. With a rapidly increasing population—Anglo-Americans (the majority from the Old South ), Spaniards and Mexicans, Germans and French, Czechs and Swedes, and a sprinkling from the British Isles— the number of musicians and their level of attainment had risen considerably . In these varied groups scattered from the Sabine to the Colorado River were both resident and transient singers, and players on a varier)' of musical instruments. These pioneer musicians were not slow in uniting both on a local and state basis in the furtherance of musical activities. Among these organizations the German singing societies through their concerts, particularly, played a leading role. At the seventh Sängerfest in March, 1860, women participated in the first mixed chorus. Bands, organized in many communities for military and patriotic purposes, also furnished recreational music. In San Antonio and other Spanish-speaking communities a string orchestrawas generally available for dancing, and the band played once or twice a week on the plaza or the Alameda, while the young people promenaded —men in one direction, women in the other. In the German towns, the band played regularly on Sundays at the beer garden. In most of the churches vocal music had found a place, and congregational singing and choral groups were often accompanied by piano or organ. Most of the organs were of the "pump" variety, but a pipe organ had been installed in the Galveston Cathedral. While an antagonistic attitude toward music still lingered amongsome sects, especially on the frontier, the singing school and the camp meeting helped to break it down. From the singing schools open to both old and young had come the "Vocal Musical Convention" which utilized "singing books" with shaped notes. In East 301 302LOTA M. SPELL Texas the attendance at such gatherings often ran into hundreds, and some of the singers and singing groups came from great distances, considering their means of transportation. The theater, through its use of incidental music, had paved the way for better music. Some theatrical companies which came to Texas, especially to Galveston and Houston, made extensive use of both singers and orchestra . As was natural, such performers increased their earnings during the season by solo and group concerts, and some offered their services for the time as musical instructors. Occasionally one chose to remain, at least for a while. But not until the late fifties were complete operas given by companies from New Orleans and Mexico. In 1856 a German opera company had come from St. Louis by way of New Orleans; a French opera troupe from New Orleans followed; and in 1858 an Italian opera company from Mexico played at Brownsville, a town that had existed a little more than a decade. Throughout the fifties, concerts, varying in type from those given at the German beer garden to those of the Tremont Concert Hall in Galveston, became more popular, and professional musicians, singly or in groups, began to find a trip to Texas remunerative. "Ballad soirees" and minstrel shows offered variety. The problems of transportation deprived both Austin and San Antonio of many of these advantages; in the inland towns more dependence had to be placed on local musicians. There were also in Texas just before or at the opening of the Civil War a few musicians who fully deserved the name. Some were composers, others performers. Allyre Bureau had formerly been the musical director of the Odéon in Paris; at Reunion, the French settlement near Dallas, he composed songs still sung today.1 Adolf Fuchs, a Mechlenburg pastor, at his home among the hills along the Colorado River set to music many poems of the German poets. Perhaps he should be best remembered as the inspiration for the Texanische Lieder of Hoffman von Fallersleben2 and as the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 301-306
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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