American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860

Please note: This list of music popular in America during the years 1820-1860 is from Julius Mattfeld's Variety Music Cavalcade, 1620-1969, 3d ed. (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971). Mattfeld drew partly on his experience as a librarian, citing songs that mid-twentieth-century readers had asked for; his lists become more accurate and inclusive as they approach the twentieth century.

Useful as a record of songs long remembered for the period 1820-1860, the list below cannot be taken as an inclusive guide to the most-performed music of any year. One should look also at songs that appear in many editions, at songs used as the subject of "brilliant variations," and at songs to which "answer songs" were written. (Even for the years covered by the companion collection Music for the Nation, 1870-1885, Mattfeld misses such major hits as "See that My Grave Is Kept Green" and "Moet and Chandon.") Paul Charosh's article "Studying American Popular Song" (American Music 15:4 [Winter 1997]) also provides other useful criteria for judging the success of a song of the period.

Many of the pieces Mattfeld lists are not in this online collection. Most that are not were published in Europe rather than in America; a few were not deposited for copyright in the Federal District Courts, and a few were published in a form that precluded their being bound with the music in this collection. Nevertheless, the usefulness of Mattfeld's lists warrants presenting them in their entirety rather than listing only those items available in the online collection.
See also Copyright and Other Restrictions.
     (Key for abbreviations:   gtr. - guitar;    acc. - piano accompaniment;   ed. - edition;   w. - words;   m. - music;   arr. - arranger.)

1820-1829 | 1830-1839 | 1840-1849 | 1850-1860


Bid Me Discourse. w., William Shakespeare. m., Sir Henry Rowley Bishop. (The words are extracted from Shakespeare's poem "Venus and Adonis"-see under the caption: 1819, "Lo! Here the Gentle Lark." The song was composed for a production of Twelfth Night in London, 1820.)

Hail to the Chief. w., Sir Walter Scott. m., James Sanderson. E. Riley [ca. 1820]. (The song was published earlier in London. The words are from Scott's narrative poem The Lady of the Lake, published in 1810. The composer was a self-taught English violinist and the conductor of the Surrey Theatre, London, who wrote many songs for local theatrical productions during the 1790s and the early years of the nineteenth century.)

John Peel
also known as:
D'ye Ken John Peel. w., John Woodcock Graves. m., traditional. (Written about 1820. John Peel was born in 1776 and died in 1854. For a portrait and brief biographical sketch consult Percy A. Scholes, "The Oxford Companion to Music," 2d ed. London, 1943.)



Invitation to the Dance-original German title: Aufforderung zum Tanze. Piano solo. m., Carl Maria von Weber, op. 65. Berlin: Schlesinger [1821]. (Composed in 1819.)



The Fortune I Crave (The Deed of Gift). w., Samuel Woodworth. m., air: "The Cottage on the Moor." (The Deed of Gift was a play with music, produced at the Boston Theatre, Mar. 25, 1822. The words and the tune are reprinted in Grenville Vernon, "Yankee Doodle-Doo," New York, 1927, p. 109-10.)

The Harp of Love (The Spy). w., Charles Powell Clinch. m., traditional air. (The Spy, a play with music, adapted from James Fenimore Cooper's recent novel, was produced in New York at the Park Theatre, Mar. 1, 1822. The words and the tune are reprinted in Grenville Vernon, Yankee Doodle-Doo, [New York], 1927, p. 99-100.)



Home, Sweet Home. (Clari, or, The Maid of Milan). w., John Howard Payne. m., "Sicilian Air" [arranged by Sir Henry Rowley Bishop]. [London: D'Almaine & Co., 1823]. (See below.)

Rose of Lucerne, or, The Swiss Toy Girl. w., anon. m., John Barnett. [London, 1823.] (Date from John Duff Brown, Biographical Dictionary of Musicians, [Paisley, 1886].)



Buy a Broom? w., m., anon. Firth & Hall [ca. 1825]. (The song is an adaptation of the German "O Du Lieber Augustin." According to Wulf Stratowa, Oesterreichische Lyrik aus Neun Jahrhunderten, [Vienna, 1848], p. 355, Augustin was an itinerant bagpiper, probably one Marx Augustin, who is said to have survived the plague in 1679 and the Turkish occupation of Vienna in 1683, and died on an Austrian highway, Oct. 10, 1705.)

Cherry Ripe. w., Robert Herrick (1591-1674). m., Charles Edward Horn. (The song was published in London about 1825 and widely reprinted in the United States.)

Love's Eyes (The Forest Rose). w., Samuel Woodworth. m., Scottish air: "Roy's Wife," arr. by John Davies. (The Forest Rose was a ballad opera produced in New York at the Chatham Theatre, Oct. 7, 1825, and enjoyed a considerable vogue both in its original form and later in a dramatic version. The words and the tune are reprinted in Grenville Vernon, Yankee Doodle-Doo, [New York, 1927], p. 112-13.)

The Meeting of the Waters of Hudson and Erie. w., m., Samuel Woodworth. E. Riley, cop. 1825.

A Wet Sheet and a Flowing Sea. 1841 (Carusi ed.?)) w., Allan Cunningham. [m., tune: "Le Petit Tambour."] London: John Taylor, 1825 (in: Allan Cunningham, The Songs of Scotland, Ancient and Modern, vol. 4, p. 208-9.)



Araby's Daughter. w., Thomas Moore. m., George Kiallmark. Boston: James L. Hewitt & Co. [ca. 1826.] (Published earlier in London. The words are derived from "The Fire-Worshippers," the third of the four tales that comprise Moore's Lalla Rookh, published in London, 1817. The music was adapted later to Samuel Woodworth's poem "The Old Oaken Bucket.")

The Dashing White Sergeant. w., General Burgoyne. m., Sir Henry Rowley Bishop. (Composed in 1826.)

The Hunters of Kentucky. w., Samuel Woodworth (in his: Melodies, Duets, Trios, Songs, and Ballads, p. 221-23). m., tune: "Miss Bailey." James M. Campbell, 1826. (The words were written in honor of the Kentucky riflemen at the Battle of New Orleans, Jan. 8, 1815, for the tenor Arthur Keene who came to America in 1817. The title of the tune is usually quoted as "Miss Bailey's Ghost." The song was also published as sheet music during this period by T. Birch, [New York, n.d.], arr. by William Blondell, and by other publishers.)

I'd Be a Butterfly. w., m., Thomas Haynes Bayly. (The song was written and composed in Chessel, England, in 1826. An American edition was published by E. Riley, New York, during the 1820s.)

Meet Me by Moonlight Alone. w., m., Joseph Augustine Wade. London: F. T. Latour [1826]. (The song was popularized by the celebrated Mme. Lucia Elizabeth Vestris.)

[The Old Oaken Bucket.] The Bucket. w., Samuel Woodworth (in his: Melodies, Duets, Trios, Songs, and Ballads, p. 12-13). m., tune: "Jessie, the Flower of Dumblane" (1808), 1842) (Woodworth's volume contained no music, but, for the most part, specified the tunes. The above song was published as sheet music by C. Bradlee [Boston, ca. 1833], and others. The words are now sung to the tune of "Araby's Daughter" by George Kiallmark--see above.)



The Coal Black Rose. w., m., anon. Firth & Hall [ca. 1827]; P. Maverick [ca. 1829]. (Popularized by the Negro minstrel* George Washington Dixon 1 at Albany, N.Y., about 1827. The song was attributed to one White Snyder in the Maverick edition.)

The Merry Swiss Boy. Tyrolese song. w., translated by William Ball. m., arranged by Ignaz Moscheles (in his: Tyrolese Melodies). London: Willis & Co. [1827?].

The Minstrel's Return from the War. w., m., James Hill Hewitt. James Hewitt [ca. 1827]. (The composer was the son of the well-known New York publisher. The song is reprinted in John Tasker Howard's Program of Early and Mid-Nineteenth Century American Songs, [New York], 1931, p. 28-30.)

My Long-Tail Blue. w., m., anon. Atwill's Music Saloon [ca. 1827]; J. L. Hewitt [ca. 1827]. (Popularized by the Negro minstrels* George Washington Dixon and William Pennington.)



Oh! No, We Never Mention Her., 1828 (Taylor)) w., m., Thomas Haynes Bayly, E. Riley [1828]. (Published earlier in London. The tune and the words were later reprinted under the title "O No, I Never Mention Her" in a small song collection The Musical Carcanet, [Collins & Hanay, New York, 1832], p. 11.)

Tyrolese Evening Hymn. w., Felicia Dorothea Hemans. m., Augusta Browne (Garrett). Boston: C. Bradlee, cop. 1828.



From Greenland's Icy Mountains. Hymn. Tune: "Missionary Hymn"; also "Heber." w., Reginald Heber. m., Lowell Mason (in: The Boston Handel and Haydn Society Collection of Sacred Music, 7th ed., p. 235). Boston: Richardson and Lord, 1829.

Love's Ritornella (The Brigand). w., J[ames] R[obinson] Planché. m., T[homas Simpson] Cooke. London: Chappell & Co. [1829.] (The Brigand was a musical play, produced at Covent Garden Theatre, London, 1829. The above song, also known as "Gentle Zitella," was reviewed in the musical journal The Harmonicon, London, 1830, p. 90. Planché was an English playwright and author of French descent, and the librettist of Weber's famous opera Oberon, produced in London, 1826. The song immediately became popular in England, and was reprinted in America.)

Serenade-original German title: Ständchen (No. 4 in: Schwanengesang).(1850) German words, Ludwig Rellstab. m., Franz Schubert. Vienna: Tobias Haslinger [1829].

There's Nothing True but Heaven. w., Thomas Moore. m., Oliver Shaw. Providence, R.I.: the author [Olive Shaw], cop. 1829.


*  Library of Congress note: "Negro minstrel is Variety Music Cavalcade's term for white performers who performed in blackface.
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1. Library of Congress note: Dixon was a white man who performed in blackface.
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1820-1829 | 1830-1839 | 1840-1849 | 1850-1860

American Sheet Music: ca. 1820-1860