Louis Moreau Gottschalk was very popular during the 19th century with his pieces for the piano. He was born in 1829 in New Orleans and died at the age of 40 in Rio de Janeiro.
In his pieces you can find influences from the music that he had heard in Louisiana, from Spanish, Southamerican and Caribean music. Some years ago I have written about Le Bananier in my blog that I had at that time, a piece in which Gottschalk used music that he had heard in his childhood in Louisiana.
Today I want to present a piece inspired by banjo music that Gottschalk might have heard from a banjo player in America. The history of the banjo goes back to Africa from where the slaves brought simple instruments made from a gourd and a stick and some strings. So the first banjos were so called gourd banjos. It is possible that Gottschalk heard a guy play on his gourd abnjo and got the inspiration for his piece The Banjo.
Paul Ely Smith has tried to find out what was the sound that inspired Gottschalk for his piece. By some “backword engineering” he created a banjo version of this piece.
L. M. Gottschalk’s “The Banjo” on a banjo
For more information go to www.palouserivermusic.com. This is a performance by Paul Ely Smith on fretless gourd banjo of his “back-engineered” version of Louis Moreau Gottschalk’s “The Banjo” (1854-55), originally for piano solo.
The Athens Guitar Trio has played a version of The Banjo for three guitars:
The Banjo (Fantaisie Grotesque)
The Athens Guitar Trio
There are many videos of this piece played by pianists. I have compiled some interesting versions in the following playlist.
Playlist The Banjo – Louis Moreau Gottschalk
Sheet music by Louis Moreau Gottschalk at IMSLP including The Banjo: http://imslp.org/wiki/Category:Gottschalk,_Louis_Moreau
More posts about the banjo in my blog: http://www.mandoisland.com/?tag=banjo