Et tu quoque, O California!
exclaims Gottschalk in his diary (April 1865) when, after admiring the Chickering grand piano in his hotel, he discovers a copy of The Maiden’s Prayer
in the piano stool. This piece by the short-lived Polish composer Thekla Baderzewska (1838–1861), perhaps the most ubiquitous piece of sentimental tosh ever written for the piano, stalked Gottschalk across America: ‘A piano groans in an adjoining room! It is The Maiden’s Prayer
’, he writes in Chicago, December 1863. ‘How far will this virginal prayer pursue me?’. He arrives in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the following year and is enchanted for, ‘although I have walked all over town, I have not even heard once The Maiden’s Prayer
No, Gottschalk was not attempting to cash in on writing a companion piece in a similar vein. His ‘grande valse de concert’ has more in common with ‘The Maiden’s Wish’, Liszt’s transcription of Chopin’s song (Zyczenie), though that particular Polish girl is depicted in a mazurka rhythm. Gottschalk’s maiden is a chic Parisienne as portrayed in this charming and self-confident waltz (in E flat). She’s a girl with a winning smile, as the French title suggests—far from the blushing maiden of its mistranslation.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003