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Bamboula 'Danse de nègres', RO20 Op 2
? 1846/8; published in Paris in 1849

'Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 3' (CDA66915)
Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 3
Buy by post £10.50 CDA66915  Download currently discounted
'Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music' (CDS44451/8)
Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music
Buy by post £38.50 CDS44451/8  8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)  
Track 4 on CDA66915 [8'09]
Track 4 on CDS44451/8 CD3 [8'09] 8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)

Bamboula 'Danse de nègres', RO20 Op 2
Bamboula is described on the title page as a ‘Fantaisie pour piano by L. M. Gottschalk de la Louisiane’ and bears a dedication to Her Majesty Queen Isabelle II of Spain. It has been suggested that Le Bananier, Le Mancenillier (both on CD 1), La Savane (CD 2) and Bamboula could be described as Gottschalk’s four ‘Scenes from Childhood’. All draw on folk material from his native Louisiana, a natural—not to say exotic—source of inspiration when he began composing as a teenager in Paris. (It is pleasing to know that Bizet, himself a prodigiously gifted pianist, played these works in public and that copies of Le Bananier and Le Mancenillier were found in his library.)

The melody for Bamboula is a Creole song called ‘Quand patate la cuite na va mangé li!’ (‘When that ’tater’s cooked don’t you eat it up!’). Bamboula? It is a Negro dance derived from the name of the primitive tambourine which accompanied the dance. (Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, incidentally, also wrote a piece called Bamboula, a rhapsodic dance for orchestra, premiered in Norfolk, Connecticut, in 1910.) Gottschalk’s family lived in Rue des Remparts, two blocks from Congo Square in New Orleans where the Negroes gathered at weekends. In ‘The Dance in Place Congo’, an article written in 1886 by George W Cable, we read of ‘the booming of African drums and blast of huge wooden horns’, the use of ‘triangles, Jew’s harps, rattles, banjo, and the slap of bare feet on earth’. It is scarcely credible that the singing and drumming could not have been heard from the balcony of the Gottschalk’s home or that the young man would not have been taken to watch the spectacle on Sunday afternoons: Gottschalk’s Bamboula is a distillation of a vivid and familiar childhood experience.

from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 1997

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Details for CDS44451/8 disc 3 track 4
Recording date
27 June 1996
Recording venue
All Saints' Church, East Finchley, London, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Martin Compton
Recording engineer
Julian Millard
Hyperion usage
  1. Gottschalk: Piano Music, Vol. 3 (CDA66915)
    Disc 1 Track 4
    Release date: March 1997
  2. Gottschalk: The Complete Solo Piano Music (CDS44451/8)
    Disc 3 Track 4
    Release date: October 2011
    8CDs Boxed set (at a special price)