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New Hampshire

June 16, 2013

Music composed for NH's grand hotels revived

PLYMOUTH, N.H. (AP) — More than a century after guests at the Crawford House awoke to the “Breakfast Bell Polka,” Plymouth State University is reviving some of long-lost music composed specifically to entertain guests at New Hampshire’s grand hotels and keep them coming back for more.

The resorts that drew thousands of wealthy summer tourists from Boston and other cities in the late 1800s were feasts for the senses: The Profile House menu featured scalloped oysters and “saute of giblets,” while the Flume House invited guests to inhale cool mountain breezes “loaded with the perfumes of the forest and wild flowers.” And music was everywhere, said Catherine Amidon, director of the Museum of the White Mountains at Plymouth State.

Songs were composed for the hotels’ in-house bands and orchestras, and guests were sent home with sheet music souvenirs. The hope was that hearing the music during the off-season— and looking at the scenic prints and paintings many tourists also took home — would inspire guests to plan return trips, Amidon said.

“A lot of those compositions were lost but what has survived has been piano solos because they rewrote the music for people to play at home in the winter on their home pianos,” she said. “It was part of the whole explosion of tourism.”

At Amidon’s request, Plymouth State music professor Mark Stickney spent months researching the music and creating new arrangements for the songs, some of which were performed Wednesday in Boston, likely for the first time in decades. Stickney, who has worked on a similar project involving the music of Newport, R.I., delved into the Library of Congress and other repositories of public domain music to track down songs like the “Glen House Galop” and the “Mount Washington March.” He studied old photographs of the hotels, then used high-tech computer software to create new arrangements.

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