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Listen to the Mockingbird

American Popular Culture in Sheet Music
Listen to the Mockingbird

On exhibit May 23, 2003 - August 31, 2003

Edward Iungerich Keffer (1861-1933), a Philadelphia dentist and accomplished amateur musician, was a pioneer in recognizing the value of documenting America’s musical heritage. This is evidenced by his extraordinary collection of American sheet music, consisting of over 2,500 items published between the 1790s and 1895. The Keffer Collection of Sheet Music, originally bequeathed to the Musical Fund Society of Philadelphia, was deeded to the University of Pennsylvania in 1991.

While more than half of the titles in the Keffer Collection were printed in Philadelphia, the importance of the collection transcends the city’s boundaries to embrace a century of music publishing in this country. The collection consists largely of American popular songs and piano music. They provide a fascinating historical record of contemporary social concerns, issues, events, celebrities, and tastes in nineteenth-century America. The music and lyrics are complemented by the cover illustrations, which include portraits, landscapes, and scenes of battles or sites of local interest. Interestingly, many of the most significant American lithographic artists of the nineteenth century illustrated sheet music, and many of their works can be found in this collection.

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