So, my music research continues about the "early black sound / music" of Africans coming off the boat at Port Orleans and connecting it to the early forms of American classical music. I just read a book recently that says "we should not try to tie the African sounds to "classical" music, it should be Jazz and Blues. I beg to differ with the book "EXCILE" a book about Edmond Dede, but the classical sound is exactly what I want to tie it to because the earliest forms of Jazz and Blues did not come around until the early 1800's almost 100 years after this particular music I am looking for. Before I get into the history of early forms of African music on into the classical art form, I would be remiss if I didn't go over briefly the rich history of Orleans, later NEW Orleans. New Orleans area was founded by Spanish explorers in the sixth century, and the city of New Orleans was founded by the French in the 18th century. The transformation of Orleans from a cotton trade city into an industrial port serving the Mississippi area, happened later in the 1800's but it important to know it's beginning history. This transformation of a cotton trade city made New Orleans wealthy and fast. The rich and elite seeking music had the opera house and Congo Square for the slaves. New Orleans systematically was designed in 1719 by a man named Chevalier Le Blond de La Tour. It was located in the wetlands near the Mississippi River. Chevalier Le Blond de La Tour designed the city with only 66 squares that each measure 300 feet with a levy to prevent flooding. Development focused at the edge of the city which was 11 squares long or one-mile long. Center of the city consisted of two parts the area where the troops stayed in the area where the church was, later known as Jackson Square. Streets were designed to be narrow to better be utilizing shade, much like those found in tropical climates and named in honor of the French royal family. The original city became known as the French Quarter, due to the influence of French architecture. With such a demand of work and more workers needed an even more greater demand for entertainment was needed. OK, so we have established that New Orleans after 1699 and once developed and the settlement started in and around 1719, it is evident that New Orleans destiny was to become a rich city even though the sister states (the 13 colonies were struggling to thrive themselves). Still under the Spanish rule from 1763 to 1803, there were still problems. The colony had just signed a 3 year treaty granting Americans to freely navigate the Mississippi River and the right to deposity goods in the Port of Orleans, after the treaty of 1795 expired in 1798, Spain refused to allow those American vessels to enter the Port of Orleans. This was a problem. Results: in 1798 Americans in the Ohio Basin claimed they couldn't survive without the use of the Mississippi River then President Thomas Jefferson suggests the purchase of New Orleans from Spain, which had secretly given Louisiana back to France. Sneaky as it was IT WORKED. So, the purchase of Louisiana took place in 1803 for 15 million dollars. The United States doubled in size all due to the purchase of the this area. So how does music tie into this history lesson ? With the area growing after the Louisiana Purchase and 45 years before the Civil War, New Orleans (the cotton trade city and ever growing, needed a way to fix boredom). With people coming into the exciting and growing city so did new ideas and old ones. Music was an old added luxury that was needed for New Orleans.
The music, whether African sounds, or music from the tribal gatherings or classical music they "did somehow" find its way into the city from the early parts of the 1700, 1800 and on into today. One such milestone besides the placement of streetcars replacing mule driven wagons and salons for the elite replacing brothels and shacks was the opening of very nice places for music to be heard throughout the city. The more New Orleans grew the better the entertainment was that came into the city. By 1815 the city experienced a growth in commercial expansion due to the availability of steamboats. After the Civil War, Italian and German immigrants from Europe joined the already existing melting pot that caused tension which eventually would end in riot in 1866 and 1900.
The French opera house opened in 1859 between the streets of Bourbon and Toulouse until it burned down in 1919, It hosted the upper class division of the New Orleans society of both white and creole. New Orleans was the first United States city to have its own Opera company. New Orleans opera house was reopened in 1943.
Théâtre de l'Opéra, was an opera house in New Orleans. It was one of the city's landmarks from its opening in 1859 until it was destroyed by fire in 1919. It stood in the French Quarter at the uptown lake corner of Bourbon and Toulouse Streets, with the main entrance on Bourbon.
Designed by James Gallier, Jr., the hall was commissioned by Charles Boudousquié, then the director of the opera company, which had previously made its home in the Théâtre d'Orléans. After a dispute with new owners of the Orléans, Boudousquié determined to build a grand new house for French opera. The building went up in less than a year at a cost of $118,500 and for the next sixty years, it was the center of social activity in New Orleans. Not only opera was held there, but also Carnival balls, debuts, benefits, receptions, and concerts. On May 23, 1859, the New Orleans Delta gave a description of the new theater: By April 25, 1862, New Orleans had been captured by Union forces in the US Civil War and the French Opera ceased to present performances until the end of the war. However, in 1864, the wife of Union General Nathaniel P. Banks held a ball at the theater in honor of George Washington's birthday. At the end of the War, the French Opera House was reopened and continued to present many American operatic premieres.
By 1913, however, the house had fallen on hard times and was forced into receivership. An anonymous donor (later identified as William Ratcliffe Irby) purchased the building and donated it to Tulane University, along with the wherewithal to operate it under the new leadership of the French tenor Agustarello Affré. The building reopened, but went up in flames on the night of December 4, 1919. The last performance was Giacomo Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots, a long favorite among old family Creoles.
The French Opera House itself was the most fashionable establishment in New Orleans in the years between the Civil War and World War I. The first night of the opera season was the opening of the social season in New Orleans, and it is an important feature of New Orleans social life, attendance being a social event of importance in accordance with its rituals and traditions. The French Opera season became the center of social life for New Orleans' elite, with the oldest and most prominent families owning seats in the theater's boxes or "Loges Grilles". Here are a few debuts of the French Opera House.
- 1860: Martha (French Version) by Friedrich von Flotow
- 1861: Le pardon de Ploërmel by Giacomo Meyerbeer
- 1871: Mignon by Ambroise Thomas
- 1883: Le roi de Lahore by Jules Massenet
- 1885: Mireille by Charles Gounod
- 1888: Le tribut de Zamora by Gounod
- 1889: La reine de Saba by Gounod
- 1890: Le Roi d'Ys by Edouard Lalo
- 1890: Le Cid by Massenet
- 1891: Sigurd by Ernest Reyer
The Storyville red light district was established in 1897 in an attempt to regulate prostitution into a 20 block radius inside the French Quarter. United States Navy closed Storyville and 1917.
(Storyville detailed further in blog)
One of the effects of immigration in New Orleans from 1860 to 1930 with the jobs that Italian Sicilians immigrants took
In their impact story bill and the creation of Dixieland Jazz they were forced to live with Creole people in the French quarter upon arrival. Though not as a discriminating as Afro-Americans because of their light-skinned Italians found it hard to find any prestigious job.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges (December 25, 1745 – June 10, 1799) was a virtuoso violinist, and conductor of the leading symphony orchestra in Paris. Born in Guadeloupe, he was the son of George Bologne de Saint-Georges, a wealthy planter, and Nanon, his African slave.
This Center, like the Williams Research Center (downtown NOLA), houses some of the best pristine special collection of sheet music, recordings, books, pictures and brochures on early New Orleans music. I don't mean 1900's but early 1800's and late 1700's. 12 years ago most of the music and collections were destroyed with the devastation of Katrina. The smartness of the curators was to send the collections prior to the storm to different geographical locations in the US; digitally and facsimiles thus saving the works of the collections I seek today:
Basile J Bares 1860-1867 collection ( folder one of 4)
Thomas Greene Bethune 1886
Lawrence Dubucues 1893
Sister Seraphine 1896
Samuel Snaer 1865
Now, my pet peeve, is that the music appreciation classes I've taken in the past mentions hardly any of these composers and if the instructors do mention them, their works are hardly mentioned and not played. I have a problem with this, especially if music composers music should be heard....duhhhhh... It comes strange to me that just by collecting music and information about these composers, that even a simple blog can house some of the best examples and therefore that is GMP&A quest to do just that. My recollection of the earliest days of New Orleans bringing Africians into the Port, is 1699. Remember music could only have been brought in by means of sheet music or in someone's head.) Also remember that the maturing America had new laws concerning slaves, the 13 colonies differ from that of Port Orleans and the surroundings (like Mobile and Biloxi). To capture that part of history and make since of it is almost a miracle within itself. I mean the history was so complex with different laws and governments controlling the rights of slaves (as large and massive a story, the music (I want to capture) almost seems infinitesimal).
The history of slavery in the area currently known as Louisiana did not begin only with colonial settlement by Europeans, as Native Americans also reduced captured enemies to the status of slaves. Following Robert Cavelier de La Salle establishing the French claim to the territory and the introduction of the name Louisiana, the first settlements in the southernmost portion of Louisiana (New France) were developed at present-day Biloxi (1699), Mobile (1702), Natchitoches (1714), and New Orleans (1718). Slavery was then established by European colonists. The institution was maintained by the Spanish (1763–1800) when the area was part of New Spain, by the French when they briefly reacquired the colony (1800-03), and by the United States following the Louisiana Purchase of 1803. Due to its complex history, Louisiana had a very different pattern of slavery compared to the rest of the United States.
Chattel slavery was introduced by French colonists in Louisiana in 1706, when they made raids on the Chitimacha settlements. Thousands of indigenous people were killed, and the surviving women and children were taken as slaves. The enslavement of natives, including the Atakapa, Bayogoula, Natchez, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Taensa, and Alabamon peoples, would continue throughout the history of French rule. While Native American peoples had sometimes made slaves of enemies captured in war, they also tended to adopt them into their tribes and incorporate them among their people.
The French introduced African chattel slaves to the territory in 1710, after capturing a number as plunder during the War of the Spanish Succession. Trying to develop the new territory, the French transported more than 2,000 Africans to New Orleans between 1717–1721, on at least eight ships. The death toll for African and native slaves was high, with scurvy and dysentery widespread because of poor nutrition and sanitation. Although sailors also suffered from scurvy, enslaved Africans were subject to more shipboard diseases owing to overcrowding.
>>> Spanish rule (1763–1803)
When Alejandro O'Reilly re-established Spanish rule in 1768, he issued a decree on December 7, 1769, which banned the trade of Native American slaves. Although there was no movement toward abolition of the African slave trade, Spanish rule introduced a new law called coartación, which allowed slaves to buy their freedom and that of other slaves.
A group of maroons led by Jean Saint Malo resisted re-enslavement from their base in the swamps east of New Orleans between 1780 and 1784.
>>>> Pointe Coupée conspiracy
On May 4, 1795, 57 slaves and three local white men were put on trial in Point Coupee. At the end of the trial 23 slaves were hanged and 31 slaves received a sentence of flogging and hard labor. The three white men were deported, with two sentenced to six years forced labor in Havana.
>>>> U.S. Territory of Orleans (1804–1812)
The demand for slaves increased in Louisiana and other parts of the Deep South after the invention of the cotton gin (1793) and the Louisiana Purchase (1803). The cotton gin allowed the processing of short-staple cotton, which thrived in the upland areas. It made possible a new commodity crop in northern Louisiana, although sugar cane continued to be predominant in southern Louisiana. The Mississippi River Delta area in southeast Louisiana created the ideal alluvial soil necessary for the growing of sugar cane; sugar was the state's prime export during the antebellum period.
The United States banned the importation of slaves in 1807–08. A brisk domestic slave trade developed; many thousands of black slaves were sold by slave holders in the Upper South to buyers in the Deep South, in what amounted to a significant forced migration.
Early in 1811, while Louisiana was yet the U.S. Territory of Orleans, the largest slave revolt in American history began about thirty miles outside of New Orleans (or a greater distance if traveled alongside the twisting Mississippi River), as slaves rebelled against the brutal work regimens of sugar plantations. There had been a sizable influx of refugee French planters from the former French colony of Saint-Domingue following the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804), who brought their slaves of African descent with them. This influence was likely a contributing factor in the revolt. The German Coast Uprising ended with white militias and soldiers hunting down black slaves, peremptory tribunals or trials in three parishes (St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, and Orleans), execution of many of the rebels, and the public display of their severed heads.
>>>> Statehood & U.S. Civil War (1812–1865)
Slavery was officially abolished by the state constitution of 1864, during the American Civil War. Slavery had theoretically been abolished by President Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, which provided that slaves located in territories which were in rebellion against the United States were free. In some areas, slaves left the plantations to seek Union military lines for freedom. If such lines were located too far away, they were often held in servitude until the Union gained control of the South.
Difference between slavery in Louisiana and in the rest of the country
Free woman of color with quadroon daughter. Late 18th-century collage painting, New Orleans.
18th-century colonial Louisiana had a completely different slave-trade pattern than that of the Thirteen Colonies. First, the slaves originated from French, and later Spanish, colonies (principally from Senegal, the Bight of Benin and the Congo region), rather than from British colonies. After the Louisiana Purchase, an influx of slaves and free blacks from the United States occurred.
Secondly, Louisiana's slave trade was governed by the French Code Noir, and later by its Spanish equivalent the Código Negro, As written, the Code Noir gave unparalleled rights to slaves, including the right to marry. Although it authorized and codified cruel corporal punishment against slaves under certain conditions, it forbade slave owners to torture them or to separate married couples (or to separate young children from their mothers). It also required the owners to instruct slaves in the Catholic faith, implying that Africans were human beings endowed with a soul, an idea that had not been acknowledged until then.
Together with a more permeable historic French system related to the status of gens de couleur libres (free people of color), often born to white fathers and their mixed-race concubines, a far higher percentage of African Americans in the state of Louisiana were free as of the 1830 census (13.2% in Louisiana compared to 0.8% in Mississippi, whose population was dominated by white Anglo-Americans.) The free people of color were on average exceptionally literate, with a significant number of them owning businesses, properties, and even slaves.
The Code Noir also forbade interracial marriages, but interracial relationships were formed in New Orleans society. The mulattoes became an intermediate social caste between the whites and the blacks, while in the English colonies the mulattoes and blacks were considered equal and discriminated against equally.
When control of Louisiana shifted to the United States, the Catholic social norms were deeply rooted in Louisiana; the contrast with predominantly Protestant parts of the young nation, where English norms prevailed, was evident. The Americanization of Louisiana resulted in the mulattoes being considered as black, and free blacks were regarded as undesirable.
I am just finishing Sybil Kein's book Creole "the history and legacy of Louisiana's free people of color" it too suggest that people of color were free in New Orleans, in the early 1700's as does Freddi Williams Evans' book "Congo Square" to make their own minds up as to what music they'd play and music they'd sing.
the beautiful stained glass windows at Tilton Hall / Tulane where the Amistad Collection is housed. Amistad Research Center | Tilton Hall | Tulane University. 6823 St. Charles Avenue | New Orleans, LA 70118. O (504) 862-3222
These are a few photos I took at the Anistad Research Center. I will list them in order:
Pictures 1 through 13
After thought this music of the era I seek is considered "classical" by all means and purposes. So, I continue to search and that search took me to Tulane University (Amistad Research Center) on Friday (Dec 15th).