Souvenir Music from the World's Columbian Exposition of 1893

3. The Viking March

Composed by H.C. Verner

Hans Christian Verner was a Norwegian-born Chicago composer of pop songs and piano pieces. Even though he arrived in the U.S. at the age of three, Verner strongly identified with Norway throughout his life, and thus it stands to reason that he would compose a piece in commemoration of the arrival of a replica Viking ship at the Fair.

The question of who “discovered” America—Christopher Columbus or Leif Erikson—was on the minds of many Nordic Americans in the nineteenth century. Stories of Viking contact with North America had been passed down in sagas for generations. In 1880, archeologists in Norway uncovered the ruins of the Gokstad ship, almost perfectly intact. Norwegians decided to construct an exact replica of this vessel and sail it to Chicago for the World’s Fair, proving that Vikings had the capability to make such a voyage. Scandinavian-Americans swelled the population of the Fair for the arrival of the ship on July 12, 1893. This replica survives, and is currently on display in Galena, Illinois. Replicas of the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria were also sailed from Spain to the Fair.

View the MP3 in Omeka

Performer: Chris White, piano.