From the Library: Victorian & Edwardian Ballads

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Thursday, 25 September, 2008

Today’s programme in our series From the Library consists of a wide selection of ballads and songs that would have been familiar to Victorian and Edwardian audiences, with the addition of a few titles that extend into the early 1920s.

They would have been known to audiences initially via the music and concert halls, as well as from performances at home where family and friends would have enjoyed selections, generally sung, and accompanied on the piano, by family members.

However from the end of the 19th century, the phonograph and the gramophone made their impact and largely overtook the family soirée, later to be joined in the 20s by the wireless as a popular listening medium. A Canadian advertisement dating from 1900 for Emile Berliner’s ‘Gram-o-phone’ – which used flat discs instead of the cylinders used by Edison’s Phonograph – is shown above, and features the compactness of discs compared to cylinders.

Today’s programme includes original recordings from the period, along with modern recordings that help to recreate the atmosphere of the concert-hall performance or musical evening at home. In addition to the ballads, we’ve included a selection of Strauss waltzes and other dance pieces that would have been well-known in the dance-halls of the Victorian era.

• From the Library is produced by Radio Riel in conjunction with the Caledon Library in Second Life. Today’s programme was produced by Elrik Merlin.

For more information on the Caledon Library, current exhibits and the work of Second Life reference libraries in general, please visit the Caledon Library Web site, or one of their locations in-world.

You can listen now at — the ideal URL for you to use in your home parcel media address in-world — or simply visit any Caledon Library branch in-world and press Play on your embedded music player.


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