This charming, if slight, piece was one of three dance pieces composed in the summer of 1859 while Gottschalk was living at Matouba, a remote and mountainous retreat in Guadeloupe. The other two are Amour chevaleresque
(see track 9) and Hurrah Galop
, all three accessible to the amateur player and, one surmises, written as money-spinners. Two early biographers concur. According to Luis Ricardo Fors, ‘Avaricious editors obliged [Gottschalk] to compose against his will and contrary to the impulses of his good taste and his talent. He wrote these under burlesque pseudonyms or completely vulgar names but the editors, always thirsty for maximum profit … published these imperfect compositions over the author’s actual name.’ Octavia Hensel, in her biography, actually quotes a letter from Gottschalk: ‘I think so little of these compositions that I do not care to attach my name to them. But Ditson [his publisher] will take them with a nom de plume.’
As if to confirm this, the music for Fairy Land states that it is by ‘Seven Octaves’. Cheekily, it bears the dedication ‘To my dear friend L.M.Gottschalk’.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2004