Museum

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People, Events and Inventions

February 15, 1798: A Brawl In the (Congressional) Hall

The more things change, the more they seem to stay the same. If you didn’t catch this story in history class, the image a powdered wigs and fisticuffs might surprise you. Here’s the video. [A link to a printable History Quick unit study about the event is HERE. Video Highlights…

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April 27, 1791: Birthday of Samuel Morse

Today is the birthday of Samuel Finley Breese Morse (1791-1872). Known as Finley to his family, he was born in Charlestown Massachusetts, the oldest child of Rev. Jedediah and Elizabeth (Finley) Morse. Of course he is remembered as the inventor of the American electro-magnetic telegraph and his famous Morse Code.…

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Scott Joplin and the Square Piano

Have you ever had piano lessons? Maybe you are taking piano lessons now. What kind of piano keyboard do you have? A few people have a lovely grand piano. These wonderful instruments are also found in concert halls, churches and schools…that have the SPACE for them. An upright, or vertical,…

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Lombard Pianos

Before the Civil War, most of the pianos in America were imported. In the years after the Civil War until the Great Depression, the American piano industry grew to manufacture about half of the pianos in the world. A piano in the home suggested that this was a refined, educated…

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September 18, 1899: Copyright of Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin

Setting the Scene: 1899 The Spanish-American war ended. Aspirin was patented. Carnation made its first can of evaporated milk. The first motor-driven vacuum cleaner (gasoline powered!) was invented by J.S. Thurman. A United States patent is issued to Ferdinand von Zeppelin for his “Navigable Balloon.” The first known use of…

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Scott Joplin

You may not recognize his name but I bet you will recognize his music! Some years ago, I lived in northeast Texas in a small community called Hughes Springs. I absolutely love that part of Texas and if life had unfolded differently for me, I would have been totally content…

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How Do Organ Pipes Work?

Discover how simple air is tranformed into music as it travels through the pipes of the organ. Learn how the materials used to construct the pipes, as well as the size of the pipes, all contribute to the sound they make. These videos are intersting on their own, but are…

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The Story of the Pipe Organ

This is the story of one of the oldest instruments and, until relatively recently, the mankind’s most complex machine. These videos are intersting on their own, but are used to illustrate and demonstrate topics found in the printable, The Story of the Pipe Organ. It is available for purchase here…

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Mary Allen West

First, the backstory. For five years, I was the Director of Music/Organist for Central Congregational Church in Galesburg, Illinois. This magnificent building is on the National Register of Historic Places and tours of church are frequent. I hosted many of those tours and learned much about the people who are…

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The Notre-Dame Cathedral Paris Pipe Organ

The world watched in frozen horror as news broadcasts showed a fire blazing through the Notre Dame Cathedral on April 15, 2019. The fate of the historic building and its contents hung in the balance. The damage was extensive, yet somehow, miraculously even, some things survived. Among the remaining treasures…

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February 16, 1848: Chopin’s Final Concert

Born in the Duchy of Warsaw (present-day Poland) and raised in Warsaw, Frederick Chopin (1810-1849) settled in Paris by the time he was 21 years old.  His musical compositions are primarily for solo piano and remain among the most popular selections for students, artists, and audiences.  While admired for his technical virtuosity at…

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“Be Thou But Near”

Johann Sebastian Bach.  Often considered to be the organist among organists and the composer among composers, many of his melodies are instantly recognizable and familiar. And such is the case with the song we are looking at today, Bist Du Bei Mir or Be Thou But Near.  There’s just one…

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Bunte Blätter, Opus 99, by Robert Schumann

Between 1838 to 1841, German composer Robert Schumann wrote the fourteen piano pieces which later became collectively known as Opus 99, Bunte Blätter (Colorful Leaves).  It is an unusual collection, consisting of Stücklein III (Three Small Pieces), five untitled Albumblätter (Album Leaves), and six individual piano pieces. Schumann was first…

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Music Plate Engraving

Maybe you selected a song to learn, purchased it, and have spent hours looking at it while practicing.  Maybe you found some old pieces of sheet music in a piano bench.  Have you ever give stopped to think how that page of music was printed?  There were — and still…

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“O God, Beyond All Praising” (THAXTED)

It was during the turmoil of World War I that English composer Gustav Holst completed The Planets, arguably one of the most popular orchestral suites ever written.   The suite has seven movements, each named for a planet.  While experiencing the complete suite is certainly ideal, movements are sometimes performed…

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A day in Hammond Organ history

When U.S. Patent 1,956,350 was issued to Laurens Hammond on April 24, 1934, for an “electrical musical instrument,”  the world of music changed forever. My first organ was a Hammond.  My Aunt Vina, my school, my church and just about everyone else I knew who had an organ, had a…

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