Music of the Gilded Age

Gild­ed Age, La Belle Époque… both terms, one from the Unit­ed States, the oth­er from Europe, refer to essen­tial­ly the same peri­od, cor­re­spond­ing to the late Vic­to­ri­an and the Edwar­dian peri­ods in the UK.

The peri­od is bound­ed by the First World War at the end, and some­where around the mid-1870s for the start.

The term “Gild­ed Age” (alleged­ly coined by Mark Twain) is actu­al­ly slight­ly pejo­ra­tive. Gild­ing is a light cov­er­ing of gold and it’s also osten­ta­tious – but a “gild­ed age” is not a “gold­en age”. And the term La Belle Époque was coined after the peri­od – look­ing back at the peace­ful, pros­per­ous past from the dark days of the Great War.

Today we’ll here music of the Gild­ed Age from both sides of the Atlantic, includ­ing bal­lads (I have includ­ed some of Stephen Fos­ter’s won­der­ful songs, which were well known dur­ing the peri­od – and indeed still are today), dance music and some light clas­si­cal pieces includ­ing items from Gottschalk in the US and Satie in France; and you’ll hear the first-ever film score, com­posed by Saint-Saëns. I’ve also retained some of the peri­od mechan­i­cal instru­men­ta­tion from yes­ter­day’s pro­gramme – but no syn­the­sis­ers of course!

Today is also the day that we begin to intro­duce sea­son­al music into our sched­ules – dis­creet­ly and appro­pri­ate to the peri­od of course – so today you’ll hear some Vic­to­ri­an Christ­mas pieces hid­den among the waltzes and bal­lads. Enjoy!

Today’s pro­gramme is pre­sent­ed by Elrik Mer­lin and pro­duced by Radio Riel in con­junc­tion with our friends at the Alexan­dri­an Free Library Con­sor­tium of Sec­ond Life. You can lis­ten to the pro­gramme in-world now at http://main.radioriel.org, or sim­ply click here to start your play­er, if your brows­er is con­fig­ured to do so. Lis­ten­ers in the Unit­ed States are encour­aged to tune in using this link: http://loudcity.com/stations/radio-riel/tune_in<

For more infor­ma­tion on the Alexan­dri­an Free Library, cur­rent exhibits and the work of Con­sor­tium mem­bers in gen­er­al, please vis­it the Alexan­dri­an Free Library web­site, or one of their branch­es in-world.

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