Musical of the Month
Musical of the Month: The Music of the Black Crook
This is the second in a series of posts about the 1866 proto-musical, The Black Crook. See my first post in the series for additional background on the show
Very little is known about the music used in the original production of The Black Crook. Early advertisements feature the scenic effects (TRANSFORMATION SCENE or THE CRYSTAL CASCADE) much more prominently than the music. Spectacular dances (eg. "Pas de Demons" or "Pas de Fleurs") are sometimes listed as well (albeit in a slightly smaller typeface), but rarely are the songs announced at all. Some 1866 programs cite "music composed expressly for the Piece by Thomas Baker," who is also named as the arranger of a set of published sheet music from 1866, but this music seems to have been underscoring for the dance and lacks lyrics.
This does not mean, though, that the original production did not include songs. Barras’s libretto includes a few lyrics (eg. the choral "Hark! Hark! Hark!" song that concludes Scene 1), but I am unaware of any 19th century music known to accompany it. An early program held by the Museum of the City of New York lists only three songs: one sung by Carline in Act 1, Scene 4 ("You Naughty, Naughty Men") and two by Stalacta in Act 2, Scene 4 ("Flow on Silver Stream" and "The Power of Love"). The sheet music for "You Naughty, Naughty Men" was published with lyrics several times in the 19th century, and copies are held by NYPL and the Library of Congress. A few bars of music labeled "The Power of Love" appear in sheet music for "The Black Crook Waltz," but I’ve been unable to locate any lyrics. There is no indication that any of the music in the Library of Congress or NYPL is part of "Flow On Silver Stream."
Some of the songs in the original production might be included in "The Black Crook Songster," published in 1867 and held by NYPL. (Songsters were published collections of lyrics centered on a particular theme.) Given that the book includes over 50 songs, it seems unlikely that every one was sung in The Black Crook, but the title page draws special attention to the inclusion of "You Naughty, Naughty Men," which was "sung at Niblo’s Garden with great applause" (it makes no such claim about any of the other lyrics). Still, advertisements in 19th century papers suggest that the music changed frequently during the course of the original production, so it is possible other lyrics in the songster found their way into the show.
Unfortunately, 21st century audiences have had very few opportunities to hear any of the music associated with The Black Crook. Indeed, the only commercially available recording I know of is a Kentucky brass band's performance of an instrumental version of "You Naughty, Naughty Men," recorded on their album with samples on their website. So, dear readers with musical ability, I issue you a challenge. Below I have linked to sheet music from the Library of Congress and NYPL. If you want to make this all but forgotten score accessible to your fellow musical theater fans, play through the piano music or sing the lyrics to "You Naughty, Naughty Men" in a YouTube video and leave a link in the comments. I’ll feature the best performances in my next post.
Note: Unlike the images in the Digital Gallery, I personally photographed the sheet music below at a relatively low resolution with a hand-held digital camera. I hope eventually to have these objects photographed at a higher quality by NYPL's professional photographers, but in the interest of providing access as quickly as possible, I provide these images "as is."
|Black Crook Gallop||Library of Congress||View||Download|
|Fairy Queen March||Library of Congress||View||Download|
|March of the Amazons||Library of Congress||View||Download|
|Transformation Polka||Library of Congress||View||Download|
|You Naughty, Naughty Men||Library of Congress||View||Download|
|You Naughty, Naughty Men (another copy)||Library of Congress||Library Page Turner||Download|
|Black Crook Lancers||NYPL||View||Download|
|Black Crook Waltz||NYPL||View||Download|
|Black Crook Waltz (second copy)||NYPL||View||Download|
|Black Crook Waltz (third copy)||NYPL||View||Download|
|Black Crook Waltzes (with color cover)||NYPL||View||Download|
|Black Crook Waltzes (second copy, just music)||NYPL||View||Download|
|March of the Amazons||NYPL||View||Download|
|Transformation Polka from dance collection||NYPL||View||Download|
|Transformation Polka (second copy)||NYPL||View||Download|