Tuesday, January 22, 2013

From Dancing to Love

"To be fond of dancing was a certain step towards falling in love."
                                                               - Jane Austen (Pride and Prejudice)

 As I was cleaning and organizing today, I found one of my prized possessions, 
this wonderful 1834 sheet music for a quadrille dance from
 "Rossini's admired Opera, La Gazza Ladra."  Isn't the writing lovely?  
The whole piece is so well-preserved, probably because of the high rag 
content of the paper.  It feels quite fabric-like.

Inked in the corner in a very lovely style is the owner's name,
Mary W. Alsop, April 15, 1834.
Was she a lovely young woman, accomplished but unattached?
Or a spinster who lost her beau before they could be married and never loved another?
I wonder...

"La Gazza Ladra" is Italian for "The Thieving Magpie,"
 a very famous opera according to my composer husband.  
This piece was arranged for the piano forte:

which was smaller than a piano and had fewer keys.  The sound was softer and "bouncier" as there was no way to sustain the sound of the notes with pedals as on a modern piano. Can't you just see sweet Mary sitting at the piano forte in her rose satin gown plunking happily?

Wikipedia describes the quadrille as a very intricate dance, a precursor to 
the square dance, with specific forms for each of its five parts.

Part 1: Le Pantelon, or "The trousers" (always in 2/4 or 6/8):

Part 2: Ete or "Summer" (always in 2/4):

Part 3: Poule or "Hen" (always in 6/8):

Part 4: La Pastourelle or "The Shepherd Girl" (always in 2/4):

Part 5: Finale (always in 2/4):

Of course named in French, the language of the upper class.

The instructions for dancing 
the quadrille are written at the bottom of each page:

 Can't you just imagine the beautiful clothes, polished faces,
 and the rustling of petticoats and tapping of boots as dancers turn and move in and about,
longing eyes gazing in a crowded room. 
Are you in the mood for dancing yet?

(Dancer stamp from the Jane Austen collection of Oxford Impressions.)

This week I'm linking up with

Rooted In Thyme


Jann Olson said...

Laura, that sheet music is a precious gem! Love the different fonts. I so felt my toe tapping as I read this fun post. Cute card too!

Jody and Stan said...

I love the sheet music! What a wonderful, creative post you have! New Follower too!


Laura Ingalls Gunn said...

What a treasure and such a romantic gift for your husband!

lynne said...

Hi Laura
Such a wonderful post and then drawing to the end of your post that beautiful card.
It is such a merry stamp that your sentiment could not be more perfect.