Monday, November 9, 2009

Reminiscences of an Active Life #22 -- November 9, 2009

Doctor Peter Henri Van Der Weyde was born in Nymegen, Holland in 1813. He went on to live a remarkable life of achievement in the sciences and the arts. He died in America in 1895.

While serving as editor of Manufacturer and Builder Magazine, he wrote many articles, including the ones which gave this blog its name. In 1893 and 1894, he published a 23-part (!) memoir in the same periodical. Here is the twenty-second part. He continues to talk about his experiences with the calliope.

The steam-powered calliope was the high-tech musical instrument of its day.

The image shows a record album, "On Board the Armenia", recorded by a group called Calliope Fair. I wonder if the album name was inspired by the North River steamer on which the doctor performed.

When he refers to the "The Echo Waltz," I wonder if he means "The Mountain Echo Waltz" by T. Bricher, which was published in 1847.

Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Part Five

Part Six

Part Seven

Part Eight

Part Nine

Part Ten

Part Eleven

Part Twelve

Part Thirteen

Part Fourteen

Part Fifteen

Part Sixteen

Part Seventeen

Part Eighteen

Part Nineteen

Part Twenty

Part Twenty-One

Reminiscences of an Active Life.


From Manufacturer and Builder, Volume 26, Issue 10, October 1894

(Continued from page 232.)

9. Career as a Musician.-- My performances on the calliope made it very popular, resulting in one of the North River steamers -- the Armenia -- being provided with such an instrument. It was placed on the upper deck, while the key-board and performer were placed below on the main deck, which was a good arrangement, as he then was under shelter, and was not so near to the strong, loud steam whistles, which could be heard for miles around along the river shore and hills of the romantic Hudson. It made the boat very popular, and a regular daily performer was engaged, who, unfortunately, did not understand the correct style of performance, above referred to. As I had neither the desire nor the time to sail daily up and down the river, I let him have his position, and only occasionally took a trip, when I always received a welcome, especially from the crew of the boat, who soon became tired of the limited repertoire of the regular performer, while the captain of the boat asked me to bring a few friends with me, when he would give us dinners and lodging for the trip up and down the river, all free of charge, for the pleasure of hearing me play.

I need not say that I made a free use of this privilege for the benefit of my friends, especially some newly-arrived artists who had never seen the noble Hudson river, and appreciated very much the privilege I could occasionally give them without cost to myself, and also for the benefit of our health.

I noticed with pleasure the joy I created among the crew of the boat when they noticed my coming on board in the morning.

I might add that I discovered some very fine echos (sic – JT) from the rocks at several places along the river, and made liberal use of them. Among the musical novelties of the day was a waltz called “The Echo Waltz,” in which I did not imitate the echo, as was intended by the composer, but let the echo itself do its duty naturally, to the great delight of the people on board. Of course, those on shore heard nothing of the echo.

(To be Continued.)

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