Graciously updated, in response to updates previously identified.
There are a couple of points:
- There were two orchestras.
The Wahnetah Orchestra and Merrill’s Orchestra were both active around the turn of the century. Both were available to play suitable music for a variety of gigs. So music in each packet reflected the instrumentation used for that particular type of gig. While many packets were for a marching street band there were a variety of other instrumental arrangements.
There are six images in the MPM – three for the Wahnetah (006405, 012438, 0012349), three for Merrill’s (005821, 006025, 006026). There are three Merrill’s (brothers?) in the Wahnetah so there was a common membership? Overlap? I believe that I have seen a print of the Merrill orchestra that identifies its members.
- The collection had been well organized.
The collection had been in safe storage until it was brought down to the Museum. It was the intention to catalog and make available. Unfortunately, with turmoil in the operation of the Society that ensued for several years, this did not happen. Worse, the collection which had been carefully and systematically organized, was randomly spread around the big room upstairs. Hopefully, it is still complete.
Fortunately, Heidi Welch has put the pieces back together. We are most fortunate to have her, with her expertise, do so.
Shortly after the collection came to the museum, Brianna Sullivan, who is a trained librarian, did some work on the collection. She also played some of the music and was delighted to open a window into popular turn of the century music. It was clear to her that it is a very unique collection.
At that same time, I spent an hour or two browsing through the collection. Not only was I struck by how well it was organized and the variety of repertoire, but that each part in the packet bore the name of person playing that part. In many instances, names match those in the images.
- This is not just music for a “town” band and should not be described as such.
It was music arrangements for whatever a gig required. Even operetta music is included. I wonder how much of the collection is actually band music arrangements.