He had been in his home town of New Orleans since February (it was to prove his last visit there). On March 26 he had taken his first flight in a hot-air balloon, narrowly escaping injury when the wicker gondola came down on the tracks of the Pontchartrain Railroad just missing a passing locomotive. Gottschalk repeated the experiment six days later, this time taking a small keyboard instrument called a harmonicon aloft with him. He ‘improvised ecstatically’ as the Gulf of Mexico hoved into view. Once more the balloon’s descent went out of control over the railway line; once again the aviator managed by pure luck to avoid being hit by another train.
Who knows, perhaps this exhilarating experience was still fresh in his mind when he wrote the opening theme of Printemps d’amour.
from notes by Jeremy Nicholas © 2003