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Arthur Bird Music for the American Harmonium - [Raven OAR-962] $15.98

Artis Wodehouse discovers a large body of art music composed by Arthur Bird (1856-1923), an American living in Germany. He composed for the Mason & Hamlin American Harmonium, also known as the "normal harmonium" which was Mason & Hamlin's effort to standardize the tonal and playing characteristics of the harmonium, especially key compass and dividing point on the keyboard, so that composers could write for it knowing of the parameters, as they had been able to do for the European harmonium since it had been standardized in the mid-19th century. The American harmonium had become very popular in Europe by the late 19th century so that the substantial European sales and promotional staff of the American firm, Mason & Hamlin, was keen to further develop the European market by allowing their instrument to become ever more recognized as a legitimate vehicle for serious art music.  Arthur Bird, who enjoyed a substantial European and American reputation as a performer and composer during his life, joined the effort, perhaps on commission, writing extensively for the American harmonium. 

The 24 works by Arthur Bird recorded here are selected from five collections published in Germany 1897- 1909, Opp. 37, 39, 42, 44, 45, plus two unpublished works. Artis Wodehouse plays a restored Mason & Hamlin. Names of the works include:
Auf dem Lande
several Sketches
Preludium & Fugue in A Minor
Tempo di Menuetto
Valse Menuet
Marsch der Aethiopier

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