Category: history

history

The Oldest Mandolin Orchestras – Worldwide (Paul Ruppa)

Paul Ruppa has written the following article for the Mandolin Journal of the Classical Mandolin Society of America (CMSA). To make this article available for the mandolin community he asked me to publish it in my blog.


Using the internet three years ago, I began to build a list of the oldest active mandolin orchestras around the world.  Initially, because I did not know the best way to search for the relevant information, the results were not very good. Even asking friends outside the United States for the names of the oldest active orchestras in their homelands was not very successful. After several years of starts and stops in the research, the list included only about thirty names.

With some time on my hands in 2020, expanding the list of the world’s oldest mandolin orchestras seemed like a timely and important project. A motivating factor behind the project was the fact that my group, the Milwaukee Mandolin Orchestra was a well-documented 120 years old. It seemed unlikely that a mandolin orchestra in the Dairy State could be the home of the oldest such ensemble in the world. Thanks to generous members of the internet’s mandolin community, we now know that there are at least a half dozen similar and older groups in Europe and many others with long histories.

The project took off on the “Mandolin World” Facebook page with a call for information about active mandolin ensembles that formed prior to 1971. There were a surprising number of responses. One of the best parts of the exercise was finding how much mandolin history has been made by devoted amateur, fretted-instrument players worldwide.

There were just 33 pre-1971 entries on the list when the project went online. In a few weeks, with the help of mandolin enthusiasts on the internet, 103 qualifying mandolin organizations were identified. In an attempt to make the list more readable, I set arbitrary milestones at 100, 50 and 30 years.

  • 36 orchestras were at least 100 years old, two in that group had a tradition going backas far as 135 years.
  • 53 in the next grouping were at least 50 years old and five began as early as 1922 (99 years ago)
  • 14 active mandolin orchestras that started operating before 1971 provided start dates between 30 and 49 years ago.
Current list of the oldest 100 year old mandolin orchestras

Mandolin orchestras from sixteen different countries were represented in the results of this project.

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bandurria

Baldomero Cateura and the Spanish Mandolin

In this post I want to present a new book about mandolin history in Spain. It is the first book in a planned series of books dealing with the history of the bandurria and mandolin in Spain.


Baldomero Cateura y la Mandoline Espanola

BALDOMERO CATEURA AND THE SPANISH MANDOLIN

Biography, organology, influences, technical proposals of his method, repertoire, projection and anthology.

Author: Diego Martín Sánchez

Ediciones FEGIP. Colección Trabajos de Investigación. Nº 1

Link: https://www.mundoplectro.com/BALDOMERO-CATEURA-Y-LA-MANDOLINA-ESPANOLA

            This work deals with the life and work of one of the most popular bandurrists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Baldomero Cateura (1856-1929). The Spanish mandolin and its repertoire, the “trípode”, the strings, method and “piano-pedalier” are the main elements here treated; but, what really makes this research valuable is the Anthology by Baldomero Cateura (downloadable from the internet). In its slow and complicated elaboration, I have gathered 101 works, almost 1000 pages – some original and others adapted – most of which were given for losses. This repertoire is a valuable contribution to the repertoire of the “plucked Instruments”.

            The work is illustrated with a large number of images and abundant information extracted from newspaper library. Includes the first biography of the bandurrist Carlos Terraza de Vesga. And despite the importance of its composer, brings to light the impressive work for spanish mandolin (bandurria model Cateura) by Manuel Burgés.


Additional information

Soleá (B. Cateura) – Orquesta se plectro Torre del Alfiler

Concierto de clausura del II Festival de Plectro Ciudad de Granada celebrado en el Auditorio Manuel de Falla el día 8 de junio de 2019.
Obra: Soleá (Baldomero Cateura) – Adaptación y arreglos: Roberto Megías.
Interpreta: Orquesta de Plectro Torre del Alfiler.
Dirige: Florencio Rozi Rodríguez.

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historical instruments

The Sound of the American Mandolin

The following video has recently been uploaded to youtube.

2018 North Carolina Heritage Award recipient Tony Williamson is a visionary musician, composer, musical instrument expert, teacher and mentor. He has played stringed instruments, most famously mandolin, for six decades and has been receiving awards and honors for his music for nearly 50 of those years. Never content to rest on his laurels, today Tony continues to perform live and travel internationally and has recordings with fresh new concepts in progress. In this documentary from 1995 Tony goes through the history of the American mandolin and plays quite a few examples of different instruments that demonstrate that history. Check out Tony’s website at www.mandolincentral.com

Tony Williamson starts with the earliest American mandolins – American bowlbacks, cylinder back, Lyon and Healy models. He then shows the whole line of Gibson instruments beginning with very early mandolins built by Orville Gibson. He plays many different instruments – mandolins, mandolas and mandocellos, mandolins with and without a Virzi Resonator and tells many interesting stories about construction, details and players.

A great video that you should not miss!

If you want to hear more music played by Tony Williamson – here is my long playlist:

Additional Information

historical recordings

The “Wreck of the Old 97” and other Songs…

On twitter I have found a tweet about an online exhibition about Songs of Virginia Tragedies which can be found on the homepage of the Blueridge Institute:

Deathly Lyrics: Songs of Virginia Tragedies (link no more available)
A story told in song, the ballad has for centuries been a means for passing history from one generation to the next. Virginia ballads cover a host of tragedies, from military battles and cyclones to train wrecks and broken-love murders.

In this online exhibit of the Blueridge Institute you can find stories about tragedies that happened in Virginia and songs that were made to tell about those tragedies. You can read the complete song text, listen to the audio of historical recordings of many songs and  also look at some historical newspaper pages about those events.

Additional information

Homepage of the Blueridge Institute: http://www.blueridgeinstitute.org/

Ferrum College created the Blue Ridge Institute & Museum in the early 1970s to document, interpret, and present the folk heritage of the Blue Ridge region.  Since that time, the Institute has grown steadily, expanding its work throughout Virginia and Appalachia while maintaining an emphasis upon the western portion of the state.

The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum enjoys a national reputation.  From festivals and concerts to exhibits and publications, the BRI offers educational and entertaining programming of unmatched quality and authenticity.  The Institute’s audience spans all ages and backgrounds, enhancing Ferrum College’s educational mission for all.

More Online Exhibits of the Blueridge Institute: http://www.ferrum.edu/blueridgeinstitute/onlineexhibits/

Another interesting online exhibit tells the story of Moonshine:

Moonshine – Blue Ridge Style (no more available)
Over the course of a century, mountain distillers went from making “mostly legal” whiskey and brandy for nearby markets to producing millions of gallons of untaxed “sugar liquor” for customers in Philadelphia and similar urban centers.Take a long sip of moonshine’s real history.

You can find many songs about historical tradgedies at youtube:

Songs That Recount Historical Tragedies: Hank Snow Sings the “Wreck of the Old 97”

Another song about a cyclone that killed a group of school children in 1929

The Cyclone Of Rye Cove Carter Family

Pictures of Steamboad Disasters and Railroad Accidents