Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth | Souvenir Music from the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893

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Souvenir Music from the Worlds Columbian Exposition of 1893

by Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth

This is music that was written as souvenirs from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago. The music was sold as sheet music and taken home to be played in peoples' living rooms.
Genre: Classical: Piano solo
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Streets of Cairo, Or the Poor Little Country Maid
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:46 $0.99
2. Chicago Day Waltz
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
4:01 $0.99
3. The Viking March
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:26 $0.99
4. Reja Dorada or the Golden Gate Polka
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
3:12 $0.99
5. Finiculi-Finicula
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
1:51 $0.99
6. L Addio a Napoli
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
1:59 $0.99
7. Santa Lucia
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:38 $0.99
8. The Ferris Wheel
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:19 $0.99
9. The Ferris Wheel Waltz
Chris White & Brad Jungwirth
4:23 $0.99
10. The Song of the Ferris Wheel
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
4:21 $0.99
11. Midway Plaisance
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
4:48 $0.99
12. The Columbian Polka
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
3:49 $0.99
13. Chicago World Exposition Grand March
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:23 $0.99
14. Columbus, Or the Worlds Fair Grand March
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:28 $0.99
15. The Chicago Dudes March
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
2:43 $0.99
16. An Afternoon in Midway Plaisance
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
8:04 $0.99
17. Echoes of the White City
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
3:48 $0.99
18. The Last Day of the Fair
Chris White, Kate Carter & Brad Jungwirth
3:42 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Souvenirs from the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893

The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 is justly celebrated as a key moment in the cultural life of the city and the nation. Chicago’s social elite was eager to demonstrate to the world the city’s vitality and recovery from the devastating fire of 1871, and fought with New York and other cities for the honor of hosting the celebration of the 400th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage. For the United States, hosting a massive World’s Fair so soon after the acclaimed Exposition Universelle in Paris (1889) announced America’s arrival as an emerging major power on the world stage.

While some scholars rightly object to the jingoism of some of the Fair’s displays and the implicit (or explicit) racial stereotyping, the Fair also had many positive results. The list of “firsts” for the Fair is huge, from food products (Juicy Fruit Gum), to technological marvels (the original Ferris Wheel, the first moving sidewalk, and Tesla’s electricity demonstrations). The Fair demonstrated that cities can be attractive and safe, and provided a vision of the urban future for city planners and dreamers alike.

Despite the great success of the Fair—more than 25 million visitors came in the summer of 1893, at a time when the entire population of the United States stood at about 63 million—it was actually profitable only through the success of its vast side show, the infamous Midway Plaisance. In addition to restaurants, street musicians, and animal shows, the Midway featured a number of “villages” representing various nations and cultures. These concessions charged admission, and were less “sanitized” than the official buildings on the Exposition fairgrounds proper. It was here that the first Ferris Wheel stood, a real engineering marvel of the day—and America’s answer to the Eiffel Tower—and it was here that Americans received their first exposure to belly dancing, scandalizing proper society (but drawing huge crowds).

Music played a significant role at the Fair, both in the Exposition proper and on the Midway, from the officially sanctioned orchestral concerts by the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other classical musicians to the various cultural ensembles and street musicians on the Midway and beyond. It is believed that Scott Joplin made an appearance at the Fair, but concrete details are murky at best. Americans also received their first taste of musical exoticism, from Indonesian gamelan music to the Hawaiian hula. Most visitors regarded the sounds as “cacophonous” rather than musical, but a door had been opened to a wider world of musical experience, and it would never be closed again.

The music on this album has very little to do with the music actually heard at the fair; instead, the music on this album capitalized on the Fair craze in Chicago and across the country. Along with buttons, medals, brochures, postcards, and other memorabilia that flooded the market, this sheet music offered a musical “souvenir” of one’s time at the Fair. Some of these pieces were made popular in local theaters, either played by orchestras or performed by popular singers on the vaudeville stage. Others were simply meant to be taken home and played on the parlor piano. They provide a glimpse into the way the visitors understood and remembered this profound experience.
1. The Streets of Cairo
or, The Poor Little Country Maid
Composed by James Thornton

James Thornton was an Irish-born comedian and songwriter who achieved moderate success on the vaudeville stage around the turn of the century; his most famous song was “When You Were Sweet Sixteen.” He found even greater success when he teamed up with the singer Lizzie Cox, whom he married. According to her biographer, “part of her job was to keep her husband from spending all his money on drink.” This song makes significant use of the “hoochie koochie” melody (here called “kutchy-kutchy”), and is credited with bringing the tune into popular currency. It was supposedly written by the entrepreneur Sol Bloom, who was the chief organizer of the Midway, but he borrowed the famous melody from a French song from the 1700s, which in turn can be traced to an earlier Algerian tune. This little melody would have a long life, partly because it went immediately into the public domain and was used liberally by cartoon and movie composers, usually to comic effect. We will hear it again on this album.

Lizzie (who used the stage name Bonnie Thornton) performed “The Streets of Cairo” on vaudeville, and it was apparently a hit. The song was published in 1895, and makes reference to a popular novel just coming into circulation at that time, George de Maurier’s Trilby, which featured a beautiful young woman captured under the spell of a hypnotist named Svengali.

Even though one goal of the Columbian Exposition was to promulgate a more positive image of the urban environment, this song presents a commonplace nineteenth-century narrative of an innocent young woman corrupted by the temptations of the city. In this regard, it was influenced by Trilby and other novels and plays of the era.


I will sing you a song, and it won’t take very long,
‘Bout a maiden sweet, and she never would do wrong,
Ev’ryone said she was pretty, she was not long in the city,
All alone, oh what a pity, poor little maid.


She never saw the streets of Cairo,
On the Midway she had never strayed,
She never saw the kutchy kutchy
Poor little country maid

Verse 2:

She went out one night, did this innocent divine,
With a nice young man, who invited her to dine.
Now he’s sorry that he met her, now he never will forget her
In the future he’ll no better, poor little maid.


Verse 3:

She was engaged as a picture for to pose
To appear each night, in abbreviated clothes.
All the dudes were in a flurry, for to catch her they did hurry
One who caught her now is sorry, poor little maid.


She was much fairer far than Trilby,
Lots of more men sorry will be,
If they don’t try to keep away
From this poor little country maid.


2. Chicago Day Waltz
Composed by Giuseppe Valisi

“Chicago Day” at the Fair celebrated the Exposition’s host city, and took place on October 9, 1893, the anniversary of the Great Fire and near the end of the Fair’s run. This piece was composed in honor of that day, and to capitalize on it. Giuseppe Valisi wrote a number of souvenir pieces surrounding the Fair, and promoted them through the publishing house that he owned with his brother. Born around 1863 in Italy, Valisi immigrated to the U.S. in 1885 and quickly set up shop in Chicago as a musician and teacher. A couple of decades later, he would go on to write another souvenir piece, this one for the San Francisco World’s Fair.

3. The Viking March
Composed by H.C. Verner

Hans Christian Verner was a Norwegian-born Chicago composer of pop songs and piano pieces. Even though he arrived in the U.S. at the age of three, Verner strongly identified with Norway throughout his life, and thus it stands to reason that he would compose a piece in commemoration of the arrival of a replica Viking ship at the Fair.

The question of who “discovered” America—Christopher Columbus or Leif Erikson—was on the minds of many Nordic Americans in the nineteenth century. Stories of Viking contact with North America had been passed down in sagas for generations. In 1880, archeologists in Norway uncovered the ruins of the Gokstad ship, almost perfectly intact. Norwegians decided to construct an exact replica of this vessel and sail it to Chicago for the World’s Fair, proving that Vikings had the capability to make such a voyage. Scandinavian-Americans swelled the population of the Fair for the arrival of the ship on July 12, 1893. This replica survives, and is currently on display in Galena, Illinois. Replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were also sailed from Spain to the Fair.

4. Reja Dorada
or The Golden Gate Polka
Composed by I.E. Hernandez

We include this charming piece as evidence of the Columbian Exposition’s widespread popularity: it was composed by a Mexican composer and published in Saltillo, Mexico.

5. Finiculi-Finicula
Composed by Luigi Denza, arr. G. Valisi

Giuseppe Valisi, referenced above, also assembled the next three pieces into a set, which he called a “Souvenir of the World’s Fair.” All three melodies are from Naples, a popular resort city in Italy, and were widely known in the late nineteenth century. For these recordings, we arranged them for violin and piano. Many people think “Finiculi-Finicula” is a traditional folk song, but it was actually composed in 1880 to commemorate the opening of the funicular railway up the side of Mt. Vesuvius. It was published that year and immediately sold more than a million copies. Since then, it has appeared in dozens of TV shows, commercials, movies, and has been referenced in songs by bands such as the Grateful Dead and the Decembrists.

6. L’Addio a Napoli
Composed by Teodoro Cottrau, arr. G. Valisi

Very little is known about the composer of this popular sentimental song (and in fact his name is incorrect on the sheet music). Although published without a vocal line, lyrics are included with the music: “Far distant climes now call to me/Adieu to thee, adieu to thee/But though I yield to Fate’s decree/My heart for ever thine must be!”

7. Santa Lucia
Traditional Neapolitan, arr. G. Valisi

“Santa Lucia” dates from at least the early 19th century. Its original lyrics refer to the Santa Lucia waterfront district of Naples, a languid boat ride there in a cool evening. One of the popular attractions at the Fair was the gondola rides in the main lagoon, and these songs perhaps reminded visitors of this.

8. The Ferris Wheel
Composed by Samuel Lapin

This piece was published somewhat later than the rest of the songs on this album; it did not appear until 1899. Little is known about Lapin, except that he became a second-tier composer of piano rags, some with questionable titles (“The Darkies Delight,” for example). We include this as part of a trilogy of tunes celebrating the most iconic structure of the Fair.

9. The Ferris Wheel Waltz
Composed by G. Valisi

The Ferris Wheel made a profound impression on the Fair-goers. Many had never experienced this degree of elevation before, and even though the wheel moved slowly, the ride proved terrifying for some. This song provides a very faint whiff of the erotic, as our narrator takes advantage of the ride to initiate physical contact with his sweetheart. The piano interludes between verses are meant to illustrate the ride.


This is the wheel, love,
Stately and real, love.
Come, we will sail around,
Let’s leave this common ground.

Now she is frightened.
Her face has whitened.
His arm he has tightened
His dear sweetheart’s waist around.

Piano interlude

Gently moving up and higher yet
Nearer than to heaven many get
Then returning back to the earth and its yearning
Back to earthly care and debt

Verse 2:

Oh! That was nice, love,
Let’s go it twice, love.
Ah, yes just one time more,
We’ll have another soar.

Fear, don’t distress you,
Why is it, guess you?
Be scared and I’ll press you,
As I did the time before

Piano interlude

See the fair in panorama reel
Tho’ ‘twere but a toy for this great wheel
Now descending earthward again we are wending,
Up the Midway we will steal!

10. The Song of the “Ferris Wheel”
Composed by George Schleiffarth

Schleiffarth (who also wrote under the name “George Maywood,” 1849–1921) was a respected composer of light works at the end of the century. His most famous song was “Sweet Bye and Bye,” written in 1882. This song expresses the wonderment many felt at the juxtaposition of so many cultures along the Midway.


Would you view the Fair, love, I will be your guide,
Let us take a whirl, love, to the other side
Not by stately steamer, with its massive keel
Shall we make the journey, but by “Ferris Wheel.”

Lapland on the right, love, and wild Dahomey
Germany’s in sight, love, not a block away,
Africa so near us, almost makes you feel
That the earth’s surrounded by the “Ferris wheel.”

China has a place, love, Turks appear in droves,
Would you learn the fashions, you must watch the clothes,
Of the diff’rent tribes, love, wand’ring here and there
Strolling ‘long the Midway, leading to the Fair

So it seems to me, love, if we wish to see
Each and ev’ry country, in its finery,
We should buy a ticket, to the great World’s Fair,
Step into the “Ferris wheel,” and travel thro’ the air.

11. Midway Plaisance
Words and music by Dennis Mackin and W.T. Jefferson

Not much is known about this song or its composers. The cover of the sheet music claims it was made famous by a Mr. Henry Norman in the musical Ali Baba. W.T. Jefferson went on to achieve some minor success with “ragtime” songs, but nothing is known about Mackin. The narrator’s bemused reaction to the sights and sounds—and expense—of the Midway was probably typical.


Once I walked about the Fair, and quite by chance,
A big wide street that opened there caught my glance.
Of all the places that ever came, the joy of life to enhance,
I shall never forget its name, Midway Plaisance

I saw a Boogie Man in half-mast pants
Skate very leisurely, skate very Caesarly;
I saw a Lulu bird from far-off France,
Grabbed him as he skated on the Plaisance

Midway Plaisance, Midway Plaisance
I thought I’d die when they let her fly
Midway Plaisance, Midway Plaisance
I’ll get there bye and bye

Verse 2:
Thought I’d kiss the Blarney Stone. The Irish race.
Took my money and I was shown into the place.
But the keeper said to me, “Your lips, Sorr, take up too much space.
“If ye want to kiss the stone, you’ll plaze change yer face.”

I saw a Nautch girl do a Nautchy dance
Quite like a French quadrille—quite, only worser still.
But, soon I found her out; I had a trance:
She came with Columbus to the Plaisance


Verse 3:
Next thing that I took in was the Beauty Show
Soon found out that looking was too all-fired slow.
Raised my hat to the tattooed girl, for ha! She pleased me very much.
Guard pulled a rope, and a sign fell down, “Please do not touch.”

I saw a yellow bear bow and advance,
Schottische with an old giraffe, give an Elephant a laugh,
I saw a crocodile do a shadow dance,
A spritz who does the splits on the Plaisance


Verse 4:
Thought I’d ride in the Ferris Wheel—my life’s insured.
But by the lunch bell’s joyful peal, I was allured.
I had soup and a chicken neck, and I got out alive.
Nineteen men figured up my check: $10.25!

I met a little girl, with a romance
I grew dear to hear, this was clear to her.
But, when I said, “I’m broke,” the circumstance
Made her skip and leave me on the Plaisance


12. Columbian Polka
Composed by Lillian Mathewson

One of the most striking aspects of the Columbian Exposition was the role played by women. Led by society matron Bertha Honoré Palmer, the Fair emphasized the achievements of women more than did many of the World Fairs both before and after 1893, including even the Chicago fair of 1933. The 1893 fair included a prominent Women’s Building, and for the building’s dedication ceremony, a concert featured music entirely written by women composers. The Canadian composer Lillian Beatrice Mathewson (1874–1958) dedicated this piece to Mrs. Palmer.

13. Chicago World’s Exposition Grand March
Composed by Victor Vogel, arr. J.E. Hartel

Victor Vogel (1842–1928) was born in Germany, emigrated to the United States at age 13, and served in the Civil War. Settling in Chicago, he formed his own orchestra and led it for more than forty years. This march was presumably written for his orchestra and then arranged for piano by Hartel.

Of interest in this piece is the way it anticipates the advent of Ragtime, just a few years later (Maple Leaf Rag would be published in 1899). Rags are built on a march format, and the harmony in this piece is essentially the same as in ragtime (including some particularly favored chord motions, such as the flat-VI to V heard in the first strain). Simply syncopate the right hand, and you would have something virtually indistinguishable from early Ragtime.

14. Columbus
Or, The World’s Fair Grand March
Composed by Frank Drayton

Very little is known about Frank Drayton—so much so that some believe that “Frank Drayton” was actually a pseudonym of the composer and publisher James Beckel (1811–1905) (no relation to the contemporary American composer Jim Beckel). The use of pseudonyms was very common in this period, for a variety of reasons; perhaps Beckel, who published this piece, did not want to appear to be a vanity press outfit.

15. The World’s Fair,
Or, Chicago Dudes’ Grand March
Composed by Adam Geibel

Adam Geibel (1855–1933) was born in Hesse, Germany. He went blind at the age of eight due to an eye infection, and soon after this his family emigrated to Philadelphia where he attended a school for the blind. He became an organist, wrote several hymns and gospel numbers, conducted choruses, and started a successful publishing company. Later in his career he was awarded an honorary music degree from Temple University.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, in the late nineteenth century, a “dude” referred to a young man obsessed with fashion (a dandy). Perhaps the fairgrounds were a place for the style-conscious to display their finery.

16. An Afternoon in Midway Plaisance
Composed by Gustav Luders

Gustav Luders (sometimes spelled “Lueders”, 1865–1913) was a minor composer of operettas in the late nineteenth century. Born and trained in Germany, he immigrated first to Milwaukee in 1888 and then became a musical theater director and composer in Chicago the following year. At the time of the Fair, his star was on the rise, and he a number of his operettas appeared on Broadway in the early 1900s before his popularity waned. While this piece was clearly written for piano, the music’s cover announces it was played with “phenomenal success” by the Schiller Theater Orchestra, indicating that this is most likely an arrangement. The music describes a typical journey through the Midway and in some ways anticipates the character of silent movie music written in the 19-teens and 1920s. The sections include:

1. Going to the Fair by Train
2. The Chinese Temple
3. In Old Vienna
4. The Persian Dancers
5. The German Village
6. The Irish Village
7. In the Streets of Cairo
8. At Hagenbecks

The music heard in part 4 provides another hint of the most famous music from the Fair, the “Hoochie Koochie” music.

Hagenbecks was a live animal show, referred to obliquely in the “Midway Plaisance” song (track 1), one of the most popular attractions on the Midway. Carl Hagenbeck was an acclaimed animal trainer and is considered the creator of the modern zoo.

17. Echoes from the White City
Composed by Edward Holst

Edward Holst (1843–1899) was a Danish-born, prolific composer of light opera works and military marches. No relation to Gustav Holst, he immigrated to New York around 1874 and became active in the Broadway theater scene as a musician, playwright, and dancer. His total output of compositions numbers more than 2000.

Most of the buildings of the fair were temporary, hastily built with a façade of plaster, cement, and staff. But in the central part of the fairgrounds, the buildings were all painted a vivid white color, which stood in stark contrast with the sooty tenements of downtown Chicago and other urban areas. The fair was also illuminated brightly with electric lights, another novelty for the time. All these things combined gave the fairgrounds the nickname “The White City,” and this is credited with ushering the “City Beautiful” movement and modern city planning.

18. The Last Day of the Fair
Composed by Frank Swain

No information can be found about this composer, which makes one wonder if this is another pseudonym. Only a couple of pieces exist with his name listed as composer. Still, this charming waltz seems like a fitting end to our collection.


Musician Biographies:
Brad Jungwirth has been described by critics as “a muscular baritone with an evocatively dark instrument” and has been praised for his “dulcet and lyrical” voice and “no-holds-barred intensity.”  He recently made his subscription concert debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Louis Langrée, performing Schönberg's A Survivor from Warsaw. These concerts were broadcast throughout the Ohio area, and recorded for digital release. He returned to the Cincinnati Symphony as soloist for concerts of music from Hollywood musicals for their summer Pops series in 2015. Recent operatic performances include the Prophet in the Chicago-area premiere of Nico Muhly’s opera  Dark Sisters with the Third Eye Theatre Ensemble, his role debut as Don Pizarro in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the 2014 Shippensburg Music Festival conducted by Robert Trevino, Escamillo in Bizet’s Carmen with Michigan’s Soo Opera Theater and in the Peter Brooks’ adaptation, La tragédie de Carmen, for Chicago’s CUBE Ensemble. He returned to the 2016 Shippensburg Music Festival, singing the Marquis D’Obigny in Verdi’s La Traviata. Mr. Jungwirth is an avid performer of contemporary music. He is on the faculty at Lake Forest College.
Violinist Kate Carter enjoys a varied performing career as an active chamber musician, recitalist, and orchestral player. Her violin-piano duo has performed live on Chicago radio and in recital venues throughout Chicago and in New York. She toured internationally as an ensemble member of Camerata Chicago, with whom she recorded for Cedille Records. Other recording credits include string quartets for Chicago Jazz Philharmonic and with contemporary Ensemble Nouvelle Epoque. As a soloist, she has appeared with numerous orchestras in the Chicagoland area. Passionate about teaching, Kate is an instructor of violin on the faculty of Lake Forest College in Illinois. Originally hailing from California, she has embraced Chicago as her adopted hometown, and enjoys its rich musical and cultural history, including that encompassed in this recording.

Pianist Chris White hails from Toronto, Canada. After obtaining a B.A. in English from the University of Toronto, Chris decided to focus his studies entirely on music. In 1997 he attended Indiana University’s prestigious Jacobs School of Music and pursued his Master’s degree in Jazz Studies, graduating with a Phi Kappa Lambda award (National Music Honors Society). Gaining valuable experience in Indianapolis, he performed with The Bloomington Symphony Orchestra, David Baker, Jamey Aebersold and Oliver Nelson, Jr. Currently he is an instructor of jazz piano at Lake Forest College, North Park University and North Central College.  Chris is a busy freelance musician in the Chicago area, and has performed at The Green Mill, The Jazz Showcase, Andy’s, The House of Blues, Navy Pier, The Peninsula Hotel, the Coq D’or at the Drake Hotel and many more venues.

Composer and musicologist Don Meyer (producer), Professor of Music at Lake Forest College, has written original scores for a number of independent films and rescored several movies from the Silent Era. In addition, he has composed incidental music and sound collages for theater productions, dance troupes, online literary journals, and television commercials. Along with his colleague Davis Schneiderman, he leads the experimental creative collective The Muttering Sickness. He has also written articles about film music and music in American life. He is the program note annotator for the Mid-Columbia Symphony Orchestra in Washington State. He was a participant in the Digital Chicago Grant from the Mellon Foundation in 2015 and 2016, and this album is an outgrowth this participation.



Funding for this album comes in part from Digital Chicago: Unearthing History and Culture, a four-year (2015–2018) grant at Lake Forest College from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Digital Chicago seeks to unearth Chicago’s forgotten history and preserve it for a digital future, through coursework, innovative digital humanities projects, and urban archaeology. For more information, visit or Special thanks go out to Emily Mace and Davis Schneiderman at Lake Forest College, administrators of the grant.

Further support was provided by the office of the Dean of Faculty at Lake Forest College. We would also like to thank Kim Hazlett, Associate Librarian at Donnelley and Lee Library at Lake Forest College, for help with the research on the composers and for helping tracking down scores; Anne Thomason, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections; Emma O’Hagan, Senior Graphic Designer and Brand Manager at Lake Forest College, for design work for this CD; and the other Mellon Fellows working on research projects on the Fair during the 2016–2017 academic year.

This album was recorded at Steve Yates Recording in Morton Grove, Illinois:



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