Music of the Gilded Age

in Daily Programme

by Elrik Merlin on Thursday, 8 December, 2011

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, 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:<

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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