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Life in Nineteenth-Century Ohio
Temperance | Parlor Music | Minstrel Songs
Throughout the nineteenth century, Americans took great delight in making music together by performing in instrumental and vocal ensembles, and by attending musical soirees, sing-alongs, and other interactive musical events. Families entertained themselves in the home by making music together. In Ohio, as elsewhere, parlor music -- that genre of music created primarily for music-making in the home -- became very fashionable as increased importance was placed on musical proficiency as a hallmark of good taste and moral reputability. Musical prowess, particularly keyboard playing, was highly prized, and a commonly-held value was that a proper education was incomplete without the study of music. Parlor music repertoire frequently included sentimental songs about romantic and maternal love, odes and tributes to historical figures and leaders of the day, and patriotic songs.
Following the Civil War, parlor organs, also known as reed organs and cabinet organs, became particularly popular in American homes. Keen to please their consumers, organ manufacturers created musical instruments in consonance with Victorian aesthetics, as evidenced by this statement from The Great Industries of the United States (1872) describing instruments from the Mason & Hamlin Organ Company: "They are chastely elegant specimens of furniture, worthy of a place in the most sumptuously furnished apartment."
Recordings and Sheet Music
Learn More About It
Stanley, Sadie, ed. The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 2nd ed. New York: Grove, 2001. ML 100 .N48 2001
Wetzel, Richard D., Oh! sing no more that gentle song : the musical life and times of William Cumming Peters (1805-66). Warren, Mich. : Harmonie Park Press, 2000. ML427.P33W48 2000