Event—Public Programming

Music at the 1893 World's Fair


From Puck Magazine, 1893

Photographs by John Zich

Watch the video recording of this program.

The Chicago World’s Fair of 1893 was celebrated as a key moment in the cultural life of the city and the nation.

Music played a significant role at the Fair, both in the Exposition proper and on the Midway, from the officially sanctioned orchestral concerts by the new Chicago Symphony Orchestra and other classical musicians to the various cultural ensembles and street musicians on the Midway and beyond. Primarily at the Midway, Americans received their first taste of musical exoticism, including their first exposure to Indonesian gamelan music and the Hawaiian hula. Most visitors regarded the sounds as “cacophonous” rather than musical, but a door had been opened to a wider world of musical experience, and it would never be closed again.

This musical performance with accompanying commentary will feature music drawn from the Newberry’s extensive archive of World’s Columbian Exposition material, including pieces actually heard at the Fair in 1893 along with music that was sold as “souvenir” pieces, quickly written by composers to capitalize on the “Fair craze” that seized the nation, to be taken home and performed in the living rooms and parlors across the country.

Download a PDF flyer for this event, to post and distribute, and check out a Quick Guide to related materials in the Newberry collection.


H. C. Verner, The Viking March

  • Chris White, piano

Lillian Mathewson, Columbian Polka

  • Chris White, piano

Victor Vogel, Chicago World's Exposition Grand March (excerpt)

  • Chris White, piano

George Valisi, arr., Three Traditional Songs from Naples

  • Kate Carter, violin, and Chris White, piano

James Thornton, The Streets of Cairo, or, The Poor Little Country Maid

  • Brad Jungwirth, baritone, and Chris White, piano

George Valisi, The Ferris Wheel Waltz

  • Brad Jungwirth, baritone, and Chris White, piano

George Schleiffarth, The Song of the "Ferris Wheel"

  • Brad Jungwirth, baritone, and Chris White, piano

Dennis Mackin and W.T. Jefferson, Midway Plaisance

  • Brad Jungwirth, baritone, and Chris White, piano

Johan Svendsen, String Quartet No. 1 in A Minor, Op. 1, Allegro

  • String Quartet

Antonin Dvorak, String Quartet No. 12 in F Major, Op. 96, Allegro

  • String Quartet

Arthur Foote, String Serenade in E Major, Op. 25, Praeludium

  • String Ensemble

Music Director, Don Meyer

Featured Performers

Kate Carter, violin, is an instructor of violin on the faculty of Lake Forest College in Illinois. She enjoys a varied performing career as an active chamber musician, recitalist, and orchestral player.

Jean Hatmaker, cello, holds faculty positions at Lake Forest College and Elmhurst College and is a founding member of the Kontras Quartet.

Brad Jungwirth, baritone, is on the faculty at Lake Forest College. He is an avid performer of contemporary music and recently made his subscription concert debut with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Louis Langrée, performing Schönberg's A Survivor from Warsaw.

Don Meyer, producer, Professor of Music at Lake Forest College, has composed incidental music and sound collages for theater productions, dance troupes, online literary journals, and television commercials. He was a participant in the Digital Chicago Grant from the Mellon Foundation in 2015 and 2016, which supported the project and album that inspired this program, Souvenir Music from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893.

François Henkins, violin, serves on the faculty at Elmhurst College, Western Michigan University, and Harper College. An award-winning chamber musician, he has appeared in festivals throughout the world and is a member of the Kontras Quartet.

Ben Weber, viola, is Principal Viola with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra and has performed with many orchestras around the Chicago area. He is also on the faculty at the Merit School of Music.

Chris White, piano, is an instructor of jazz piano at Lake Forest College, North Park University and North Central College and a busy freelance musician in the Chicago area.

This event, funded by a grant from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, is part of our programming in connection with the exhibition Pictures from an Exposition: Visualizing the 1893 World's Fair. See it from September 28 to December 31, 2018, at the Newberry.

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