Gottschalk wrote it after a morosely unsuccessful spring tour in 1853 in which his appearances had been upstaged by the prior arrival on the circuit of Adelina Patti; her sister, the soprano Amalia Strakosch; the boy-wonder violinist Paul Julien; and Lola Montez, the dancer and celebrated seducer of Liszt and Ludwig II of Bavaria. After the tour disbanded in Philadelphia at the end of June, Gottschalk was commissioned to write three works for immediate publication. The Water Sprite was among them, composed while staying with his cousins at the resort of Cape May, New Jersey. It is dedicated to a ‘Miss Mary J. Smith of Philadelphia’, one of Gottschalk’s countless conquests.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2004