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Lieder, Love Songs & Lullabies: Music that Takes Us Home

Leon Robbin Gallery
September 16, 2008
December 12, 2008



Singing has been a part of domestic culture for centuries. This exhibition, drawn from the extensive music holdings of the Georgetown University Library’s Special Collections Research Center, features music that has been performed at home, created at home, or enjoyed at home via televised performances.

The great age of the Lied (song) in Germany came in the 19th century when the flowering of German literature inspired composers to write musical works with high literary aspirations. Felix Mendelssohn composed a number of Lieder. Like the poet Goethe, he believed the poetry of a Lied held precedence over the music. Clara and Robert Schumann saw things differently; their Lieder often contain complex piano accompaniments that intensify the emotions of the poetry. Sometimes Lieder are gathered in a Liederkreis (song cycle) – a series of songs linked by a single narrative or theme.

Tin Pan Alley is the name given to the collection of music publishers and songwriters who set up shop in New York City and dominated American popular music in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies. Tin Pan Alley was originally a specific place in New York City, West 28th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenue. Today, one might say that it is a state of mind. The examples here show the range of musical topics, from patriotic tunes to comedy routines and love songs.

 Items in the Exhibition:

Das Waldschloss

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
ca. 1835
Autograph manuscript, not dated but almost certainly from 1835. Setting of a text by Joseph von Eichendorff (1788-1857) for solo voice and piano. Leon Robbin Collection.

Autograph Letter

Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
Letter to Leipzig Publisher Friedrich Kistner (1797-1844) dated Leipzig, 10 October 1839. Leon Robbin Collection.


Robert Schumann (1810-1856)
, 1st edition. Leipzig: F. Whistling [1840]. Upper cover and first leaf of music only. Inscribed by Schumann on the upper cover, 26 October 1850. Leon Robbin Collection.

This song cycle for voice and piano is based on nine poems by Heinrich Heine. Schumann composed these songs in February, shortly after his marriage to Clara Wieck.

Autograph Letter

Clara Wieck Schumann (1819-1896)
Letter to Herr Mehlen in [Bad] Gödesberg, [Germany] dated 26 September 1860. Leon Robbin Collection.

In this letter, Schumann discusses contemporary musicians (such as Josef Joachim) and promotes the symphonic work of her husband, Robert Schumann, who died in 1856.

Manuscript Collection of Canzone

Luigia Bartolini (fl. early 19th century)
Manuscript collection of Canzone for solo voice and piano. Purchased 2008 on funds endowed by Leon Robbin.

The life of Luigia Bartolini is a mystery. Her name is not recorded in the history of Italian music. Yet she did leave a musical legacy, this small handwritten book, which serves as a window on music-making in early 19th-century Naples. The collection consists of a loose arrangement of original music and adapted opera arias. Bartolini likely produced this book to demonstrate the range of her musical skills. Her audience likely consisted of professionals, learned amateurs, and knowledgeable patrons who populated the aristocratic salons of 19th-century Naples.

The inclusion of a tarantella for solo piano reflects the burgeoning fascination for indigenous cultures during the early 19th century.

Non Temer Bell'Idol Mio

Luigia Bartolini (fl. early 19th century)
This aria is based on the poetry of Pietro Metastasio (1698-1782) and comes from his libretto to Demofoonte. Bartolini's text choice demonstrates a clear grasp of Italian operatic tradition and may have been influenced by a recent setting of Demofoonte by the contemporary composer Giovanni Paisiello (1740-1816).


Non temer bell'Idol mio                            Do not fear, my Beloved,

Che cangiar mai possa affetto                   That I could ever change my feelings.

Non temer che altro oggetto                     Do not fear that another one

Su quest'alma regni un dì.                         Will one day rule this soul.


Oh! Quanto care sono oh Dio,                  Ah! How rigid, ah Lord,

Oh quanto forti le catene                           Ah, how strong, are the chains.   

Ah troppa amor mio caro bene                 Ah, too much love, my dearest

Sul mio petto mi colpì.                               Strikes my heart.

It's all right in the Summer-time!

Frederick Murray and George Everard
"It's all right in the Summer-time!" or "The Artist's Model" in Vesta Victoria's New Song Successes as Featured by the Famous English Comedienne on her American Tour. New York: Francis, Day and Hunter, 1905. Maguire Sheet Music Collection.

Verse 1: My old man is a very clever chap. He's an artist in the Royal Academy. He paints pictures from morning until night – paints ‘em with his left hand, paints ‘em with his right. All his subjects, take the tip from me, are very, very "Eve and Adamy." And I'm the model that has to pose for his pictures every day.

Chorus: And it's all right in the summertime. In the summertime it's lovely! While my old man's painting hard, I'm posing in the old back yard. But, oh, oh! In the wintertime, it's another thing, you know. With a little red nose and very little clothes. And the stormy winds do blow – oh! Oh!

Break the News to Mother

Charles K. Harris (1867-1930)
"Break the News to Mother," New York: Charles K. Harris, 1898. Inscribed Harriet Kistler Aug. [18]99. Maguire Sheet Music Collection.

Verse 1: While the shot and shell were screaming upon the battlefield; the boys in blue were fighting, their noble flag to shield; Came a cry from their brave captain, "Look, boys! Our flag is down; Who'll volunteer to save us from disgrace?"

"I will," a young voice shouted, "I'll bring it back or die!" Then sprang into the thickest of the fray. Saved the flag but gave his young life; all for his country's sake. They brought him back and softly heard him say:

Chorus: "Just break the news to Mother. She knows how dear I love her. And tell her not to wait for me, for I'm not coming home. Just say there is no other, can take the place of mother. Then kiss her dear, sweet lips for me, and break the news to her."

I'll Wed You in the Golden Summertime

Stanley Crawford and Alfred Bryan
"I'll Wed You in the Golden Summertime." New York: Shapiro, Bernstein, and Company, 1902. Inscribed Harriet Kistler. Maguire Sheet Music Collection

Verse 1: The trees are white with blossoms Nell, the meadows green again. ‘Tis evening and I'm waiting in the dell, to keep my promise to you, dear; I wonder if in vain. I long to see your sweet face darling Nell. They say another won you, but I can't believe ‘tis so, until your own lips tell me sweetheart mine. For faithful was my promise when I left you long ago: to wed you in the golden summertime.

Chorus: I've come to keep my promise, Nellie darling; And soon the wedding bells for us will chime. For the day is drawing near, when I told you I'd be here. And I'll wed you in the golden summertime.

Autograph Manuscript, "Theme Song" from Sesame Street

Joe Raposo
"Theme Song" from Sesame Street. Autograph manuscript. Gift of Pat Collins-Sarnoff.

Joe Raposo and Jim Henson changed the world of children's television when they joined forces in 1969 and created Sesame Street. Raposo was the show's first musical director, and in this capacity he composed for such diverse talents as Kermit the Frog, Cookie Monster, Count von Count, and Big Bird. Raposo holds a strong connection to Georgetown through his daughter, Liz Raposo (COL '98).