Detail from "The German cake walk, " by Paul Rubens. New York: Sol Bloom, 1903.
In the Muse presumes that the stereotyped Germans pictured in this illustration to Paul Rubens’ composition, “The German cake walk” are simply performing the titular dance. But the action in this scene is potentially ambiguous. Is the mustachioed man running away from an amorous Fraulein, or simply leading her in an impromptu march? Why does this remind me of the kind of television graphic that announces “We are having technical difficulties?” And isn’t it interesting that the composer of this turn-of-the-century diversion shares a name with star of stage and screen Pee-wee Herman? Cake walk scholars will find a delightful illustration in the Prints and Photographs Online catalog of a cat and dog performing a cake walk of undetermined nationality. Mustache scholars should revisit our previous journeys into the Great Mustaches of the Music Division.
In the days before Skype and IMs, human communication over great distances was transmitted in a charmingly antiquated manner. In this week’s featured Sheet Music, the singer reassures his far away beloved that “I think I’ve found a way/We can spoon each day.” “Shut your eyes and make believe” was transmitted from the pens of […]
The following is a guest post from Daniel Walshaw, Music Division. Scream with uncontrollable, horrific shrieks! Schoenberg is coming to the Coolidge Auditorium! Perhaps that was a tad overly dramatic, but for those who would react in such a manner, and for those who are members of the dodecaphonic cognoscenti, the Music Division lecture this […]
Sometimes it’s hard not to get lost in our collections here at the Library, and when the National Jukebox launched about a year ago, I had a whole new resource full of wonderful early 20th-century recordings to explore. After writing a blog post last month on popular music in World War I-era England, I featured […]
The following is a guest post by Stephen Winick, Writer and Editor, American Folklife Center. On Saturday, February 18, 2012, the Library’s Coolidge auditorium hosted a relaxed and thoroughly enjoyable concert by Grammy-Award-winning old-time folk music group The Carolina Chocolate Drops. The two-hour concert featured old-fashioned music on guitar, banjo, steel-resonator mandolin, and fiddle, with […]
Next Tuesday the annual DC Elephant Walk comes back to Capitol Hill, and with it comes the circus! Last year In the Muse rose to the occasion with “The Baby Elephant March.” This week we bring you Albert Gumble and Jack Yellen’s “Circus Day in Dixie,” a song once performed by vaudeville star Blossom Seely. […]
One of the most memorable images from Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation of the Stephen King novel The Shining is a shot of a framed group photo from the heyday of the fictional Overlook Hotel. It has become an iconic image, and its resonance in the film can lend almost any vintage group photo an air of […]
In Washington, meteorological spring came in like a lamb. In the Muse would like to take this fair-weather opportunity to revisit last week’s bicycle theme with M. Florence’s “Bloomer March,” which if the illustration is to be believed, conveys the fin de siècle pleasures of riding a bicycle while dressed in bloomers. Florence dedicates the […]