From Paris to Peoria: How European Piano Virtuosos Brought Classical Music to the American Heartland / Edition 1

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It's difficult to imagine Franz Liszt performing in Peoria, but his contemporary and foremost rival, Sigismund Thalberg, did just that. During the mid-nineteenth century, Americans in more than a hundred cities—from Portland, Maine to Dubuque, Iowa to Mobile, Alabama—were treated to performances by some of Europe's most celebrated pianists. From Paris to Peoria deftly chronicles the visits of five of these pianists to the America of Mark Twain. Whether performing in small railroad towns throughout the Midwest or in gold-rush era California, these five charismatic pianists—Leopold de Meyer, Henri Herz, Sigismund Thalberg, Anton Rubinstein, and Hans von Bülow—introduced many Americans to the delights of the concert hall. With humor and insight, R. Allen Lott describes the glamour and the drudgery of the touring life, the transformation of American audiences from boisterous to reverent, and the establishment of the piano recital as a viable artistic and financial enterprise. Lott also explores the creative and sometimes outlandish publicity techniques of managers seeking to capitalize on prosperous but uncharted American markets. The result of extensive archival research, From Paris to Peoria is richly illustrated with concert programs, handbills, caricatures, and maps. A companion website,, includes a comprehensive list of repertoires and itineraries, audio music examples, and transcriptions of selected primary sources. Certain to delight pianists, musicologists, and historians, From Paris to Peoria is an engaging, thoroughly researched, and often funny account of music and culture in nineteenth-century America.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"From Paris to Peoria is an absorbing, readable book in which music history interacts with social history. The detailed account Lott offers, rich in quotes from primary sources and musical examples, modifies the generalizations and corrects the errors of earlier accounts."—Piano Today

"Lott enables us to look at the question of virtuosi's impact and accomplishments in an entirely new light. [He] has derived a satisfying scheme for the presentation of abundance of information." — Institute for Studies in American Music Review

"Lott's engaging book...greatly ads to our understanding of music in nineteenth-century America and its role in shaping modern attitudes toward the place of Western European music in American cultural life."—Notes

"Grateful scholars of the New World appropriation of Old World music will profit—immeasurably—from Lott's industry and discernment."—Los Angeles Times

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195148831
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 2/6/2003
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 384
  • Lexile: 1510L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 9.30 (w) x 6.50 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

R. Allen Lott is Professor of Music History in the School of Church Music at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

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Table of Contents

Prelude: The New World Beckons 3
Pt. 1 Leopold de Meyer (1845-47) 9
Pt. 2 Henri Herz (1846-50) 53
Pt. 3 Sigismund Thalberg (1856-58) 113
Pt. 4 Anton Rubinstein (1872-73) 169
Pt. 5 Hans von Bulow (1875-76) 231
App. A: Itineraries 293
App. B Rubinstein's and Bulow's Repertoire in America 303
Notes 311
Bibliography 347
Index 357
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