[This following list of music hall songs performed at seventh session of the 2007 Bard College concert series and symposium entitled Elgar and His World, which was organized by Leon Botstein, Christopher H. Gibbs, and Robert Martin, Artistic Directors, and Byron Adams, Scholar in Residence 2007. Derek B. Scott, Professor of Critical Musicology, University of Leeds, chose and introduced the songs, which were brilliantly performed on 18 August 2007 to the audience's great delight by William Ferguson, tenor; Thomas Meglioranza, baritone; Tonna Miller, Soprano; Gloria Parker, Mezzo-Soprano; and Spencer Meyer, Piano.

Readers should consult the festival site for additional information about this and past festivals and related publications, including Elgar and His World, ed. Byron Adams, which Princeton University Press published in 2007. — George P. Landow]

Uplifting Entertainment

Frederick Buckley (1833-64), I'd Choose to Be a Daisy (1861) (Buckley)

A song later sung by a school children.

Leslie Stuart (1863-1928), Is Yer Mamie Always with Ye? (1896) (Stuart)

An English adaptation of American blackface minstrel songs.

Joseph Barnby (1838-96), Sweet and Low (1863) (Tennyson)

One of many settings of poems by the Poet Laureate.

Leslie Stuart, Tell Me, Pretty Maiden, from Flordora (1899) (E. Boyd-Jones and P. Rubens)

A song that moved from a popular musical to the music hall.

The Role of Innuendo

Arthur Lloyd (1840-1904), It's Naughty but It's Nice (1873) (Lloyd)

"The most difficult thing for moral guardians to control was the physicality of certain performers, the most notorious being Marie Lloyd, who used gestures, winks, and knowing smiles to lend suggestiveness to the most "innocent" of songs." — Derek B. Scott

George Le Brunn (1863-1905), Twiggy Voo? (1892) (R. Morton)

"Twiggy Voo?," which means "Do you understand?" or "Do ya get it?" is probably intended to parody the French "vous."

Fred Coyne (1845-86), The Tuner's Oppor-'tun'-ity (arr. William Sim; 1879) (H.Adams)

When sung with the proper (or rather improper) gestures and expresisons, as it was by William Ferguson at the Bard Festival, this song is about as bawdy as one can get without using obscene language — which here seemed hardly necessary to get across every point.

Fred Murray (d. 1922) and Laurence Barclay (d. 1949), Our Lodger's Such a Nice Young Man (1897) (Murray and Barclay)

If the The Tuner's Oppor-'tun'-ity plays off against the middle-class public's fear of male piano tuner being alone with young women, this song does the same with the dangers of having a young man, a stranger, living with a family. Here both mother and daughter enjoyed the border very much, and, in what was likely a very un-Victorian performance, so did the father as well.

The Swell

Harry Copeland (n.d.), Slap Bang, Here We Are Again, or The School of Jolly Dogs (ca. 1865) (Copeland)

A song with lots of male bravado and nonsense lyrics.

Edwin V. Page (n.d.), 'Arry (1882) (Page)

Alfred Lee (d. 1906), Champagne Charlie (1867) (G. Leybourne) [Performed by Professor Scott]

"Leybourne, the most acclaimed of the swells, was given a contract in 1868, at the height of his success with the song "Champagne Charlie," which made it a condition that he continue his swell persona offstage." — Derek B. Scott

Fred Murray and George Everard (1873-1907), An Old Man's Darling (1903) (Murray and Everard)

This song's refrain — "I'd rather be an old man's darling than a young man's slave" — probably places it in the previoous category as well.

Jingoism and the Halls

John Wall Callcott (1766-1821), You Gentlemen of England (1794)

An eighteenth-century patriotic song, which makes rather a sharp contrast to Music Hall patriotism.

G.W. Hunt (1839-1904), Macdermott's War Song (1877) (Hunt)

"Plain,tough-speaking imperialism is found in the music hall, most notoriously with G.W. Hunt's 'Macdermott's War Song' (lyrics), the refrain of which — 'we don't want to fight, but by jingo if we do' — gave the new aggression the label 'jingoism.'" — Derek B. Scott

John Pridham (1818-96), The Battle March of Delhi

A music hall response to the 1857 Indian Mutiny.

Felix McGlennon (1856-1943), Sons of the Sea (1897) (McGlennon)

This jingoistic response to the late nineteenth-century arms race, a large part of which involved constructing increasingly bigger and more heavily armed battleships, claims that the mettle of the British seaman will always conquer foreign technology — a claim that appears bitterly ironic when decades later the H.M.S. Hood, the pride of the British navy, was sunk by a single lucky shot from a single German shell with the loss of 1415 of the 1418 men on board.

The Cockney

"From the 1840s to the 1890s the representation of the Cockney goes through three successive phases: it begins with parody, moves to the character-type, and ends with the imagined real. In this final phase, the stage representation is no longer derived from the flesh-and-blood Cockney; instead, it consists of a replication of an already existing representation." — Derek B. Scott

Bessie Bellwood (1857-96), What Cheer, 'Ria (arr. G. G. Ison; 1885) (W. Herbert)

A comic song in which a lower-class woman is put in her place when she buys a ticket to the more expensive part of the music hall. Both the prosperous members of the audience and her fellows who sit in the balcony come off pretty badly. But audiences found this rather nasty bit of work entertaining.

Charles Ingle (n.d.), My Old Dutch (1892) (A. Chevalier) — lyrics

A sentimental song in which a cockney expresses his love for his wife of 40 years. Even some critics of the music hall approved.

George Ware (n.d.), The Boy in the Gallery (1885) (Ware)

George Le Brunn (n.d.), If It Wasn't for the 'Ouses in Between (1894) (E. Bateman)

A cockney's pride in his house and garden, which would have had great views of distant sights were it not "for the 'Ouses in Between."


Elgar and His World. Program for the Bard Music Festival. Anandale-on-Hudson: Bard College, 2007, pp. 49-50.

Last modified 25 March 2009