‘At the time of my first return from Europe,’ wrote Gottschalk in his Notes of a Pianist
in December 1864, ‘ I was constantly deploring the want of public interest for pieces purely sentimental; the public listened with indifference; in order to interest it, it became necessary to astound it; grand movements, tours de force, and noise had alone the privilege in piano music, not of pleasing, but of making it patient with it.’ Notwithstanding his own aversion to such popular tear-jerkers as The Maiden’s Prayer
, Home, Sweet Home
, Old Folks at Home
and the like (‘trashy sentimental pieces which … threaten to obliterate the last vestiges of the pure and serious art which the great masters bequeathed us’ was his verdict), Gottschalk clearly believed that his own contributions to the genre were of a different order. The Last Hope
, The Dying Poet
and this dangerously saccharine romance (which the composer referred to as ‘a dreamy character and full of pathos’) are part of a long and continuing tradition of unashamedly maudlin morceaux which the general public take to their hearts.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2000