Jerusalem is no masterpiece but an effective operatic fantasy of the type that was so popular at the time. It uses themes from Verdi’s 1843 opera I Lombardi, retitled Jerusalem in its revised version of 1847, the Paris premiere of which Gottschalk quite probably attended. The fantasy was composed at the behest of the Russian Grand Duchess Anna Fedorovna (1781–1860), Queen Victoria’s aunt and the erstwhile wife of the brother of Tsar Nicholas I. The cover of the score records that its first performance was at a party given by the Duchess at her summer palace of La Boissière near Geneva on 23 July 1850. After a lengthy introduction full of foreboding (E flat minor), Gottschalk then moves to the grand duo ‘Une pensée amère’, from the second act, with the right hand playing continuous delicate demisemiquavers at the octave above Verdi’s lovely melody. For the conclusion he chooses the spirited ‘Marche des croisés’ (March of the Crusaders). The Jerusalem fantasy, dedicated to a Madame Amélie Heine of New Orleans, was subsequently adapted by Gottschalk into a two-piano work (RO127), the score of which is now lost.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2005