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Comment by Mike Bostock on January 19, 2023 at 9:46

As a follow-up to a reference that I posted on BHO I've attached the English edition of Meyer Lutz's popular dance tune 'Pas de Quatre'. This is the tune that was Joe Morley's piece de resistance in the summer that Clifford Essex first heard him play. The tune from the Victorian burlesque 'Faust Up To Date' was widely-known and hugely popular in England at that time. I thought folks here may be interested to access and play this Victorian burlesque melody.  Notation to follow, and I've also tabbed this for 5,6 and 7-string banjo. If anyone would like the tab please just message me.

Comment by Mike Bostock on January 19, 2023 at 10:37

Meyer Lutz's musical burlesque 'Faust Up To Date' opened at The Gaiety Theatre, London in 1888 and transferred to the Globe Theatre, London in 1889. The entertainment was essentially a spoof of the 1864 opera 'Faust' by Charles Gounod. Victorian burlesque was a very different form than what we now singularly associate with the term 'burlesque'. It was a particular form in which the taste and pretentions of the upper class were lampooned to comic effect. While certainly mildly risqué the main appeal was the irreverent comic angle and it was hugely popular among a wide range of the English public from the 1860's until it's demise in the early 1890's. There was scarcely an original Victorian stage play that didn't spawn a burlesque send-up.

Comment by Mike Bostock on January 19, 2023 at 10:41

Morley was not the only banjoist to pick up on this tune. Alfred Cammeyer also included Pas de Quatre (in C) in his repertoire.

Comment by Joel Hooks on January 19, 2023 at 20:42

This was published in the US as "Skirt Dance" and I have many arrangements of it for banjo.  I regularly play an arrangement by George Lansing though there is a tricky part that throws me.   It was in more than a few tutors too. 

Comment by Mike Bostock on January 19, 2023 at 21:42

I hope folks don't get put off by the 12/8 time. The motifs in it are really catchy and there's no wonder Victorians were whistling it away from theatres. A real ear-worm!

In regard to our conversation on plagiarism yesterday I'm curious if Lutz is credited on the US publication? And yes, of course I'm pulling your leg. ;-)

Comment by Joel Hooks on January 19, 2023 at 21:44

Credit-- most of the time, I think. 

Comment by Joel Hooks on January 20, 2023 at 2:01

In the Banjo Made Easy- Converse, credited in the table of contents but not on the title.


Uncredited in Tutor for the Banjo by Otto Langey


Uncredited in The Eureka Method


From S. S. Stewart, credited


I will add the Lansing version that I play later, which is also credited.

That is three credited, two uncredited.  If I can think of more I'll post those too.

You are totally correct, but I am going to nit pick a bit about this.  My logic is based specifically on arrangements for the banjo.  So arrangements of popular pieces would be fair game as long as the banjo arrangement was unique and original in form.  If you look at all of the examples I posted you will see that they are all different in some way (well, two were done by Frank Converse).  The arrangers put in the work.

I doubt that Stewart had any agreement with Zikoff or any of the other romantic era composers he published banjo arrangements of.  But when he works on an arrangement, and Ellis publishes a note for note rip off and claims himself as arranger-- that is pretty low.

My claims of plagiarism are based around new works specifically composed for the banjo.  But I could extend that to arrangements of popular music from other instruments or vocal arranged for solo banjo.

The other thing we run into are examples of claims of "arrangement" when nothing was done except transpose from A to C. Here is an example:

Here we have Reminiscence of Dixie composed by George Lansing.


And her we have Dixie, a Reminiscence, uncredited but "arranged and played by Clifford Essex"


Again, I know it is a very narrow line.

Comment by Mike Bostock on January 20, 2023 at 12:54

Thank you for taking the time to do the cross-checking, Joel.  This is all really interesting. 

Lutz composed Pas de Quatre a little later than the period I'm currently looking at. I'm finding that to research in detail I need to segment my focus by narrowing the focus in terms of date range. Otherwise there's just too much going on to make sense of sources. 

One fascinating area emerging at the moment is the cross-over and adaptation by amateurs of some of the popular dance tunes of the day.

Comment by Mike Bostock on January 20, 2023 at 13:00

Jenny Lind Polka springs to mind as maybe one linked example of this process occurring in the US as I know Jenny Lind toured there to great public acclaim.

Comment by Joel Hooks on January 20, 2023 at 15:36

American method books are jammed with Gilbert and Sullivan pieces arranged for solo banjo.  I would have to check but I seem to remember that some were published they same year of the openings. 

The "isolation" narrative invented by the folklorists is mostly fiction.  They (the folklorists) were careful to exclude anything that did not fit the story they were putting forward, i.e. the pure white American culture of a James Fenimore Cooper character untouched by any outside influences.  This was really solidified by the manufacturing of authenticity by the "barn dance" radio programs.  Even the early fiddle contests were guilty of spinning narratives complete with fake back stories of the winners.  

When the Folk Revival hit post WW2 the academics struggled (or perhaps they did not and were willing to accept at face value) with the separation of fact and fiction.  

It is funny, I think that the reason I am even interested in this stuff is that it fails to credit the very talented people who were integral in developing what we now call "old time music".  It was a pretty rapidly developing popular music form that was obscured by nostalgia and censored by record labels.  The old "aural tradition" of music that is described as an unchanging game of Simon Says gives the impression that none of the "discovered" old time players of field recordings had any personal influence over what they were doing, only playing a duplication of previous generations (yet some how doing it on contemporary instruments). 

Yes, people in rural areas of the US did not travel far from home.  Yes, roads were terrible to travel.  Yet, somehow they were able to keep up with news (more or less) and have the latest Broadway pieces show up on dance cards.

One thing that is interesting is photos. Photos from the most remote areas will still show fairly recent fashion trends.

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