16. An Afternoon in Midway Plaisance
Composed by Gustav Luders
Gustav Luders (sometimes spelled “Lueders”, 1865–1913) was a minor composer of operettas in the late nineteenth century. Born and trained in Germany, he immigrated first to Milwaukee in 1888 and then became a musical theater director and composer in Chicago the following year. At the time of the Fair, his star was on the rise, and he a number of his operettas appeared on Broadway in the early 1900s before his popularity waned. While this piece was clearly written for piano, the music’s cover announces it was played with “phenomenal success” by the Schiller Theater Orchestra, indicating that this is most likely an arrangement. The music describes a typical journey through the Midway and in some ways anticipates the character of silent movie music written in the 19-teens and 1920s.
Performer: Chris White, piano.
The sections in the piece include:
Going to the Fair by Train
The Chinese Temple
In Old Vienna
The Persian Dancers
The German Village
The Irish Village
In the Streets of Cairo
The music heard in part 4 provides another hint of the most famous music from the Fair, the “Hoochie Koochie” music.
Hagenbecks was a live animal show, referred to obliquely in the “Midway Plaisance” song (track 1), one of the most popular attractions on the Midway. Carl Hagenbeck was an acclaimed animal trainer and is considered the creator of the modern zoo.