Glee Clubs

Time Period
1825 to 1860
1861 to 1876
1877 to 1924
1925 to Today
Topics
Domestic Life
Education
Entertainment
Image
"Rally Whigs" was written Sept. 8, 1848. (Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Call no. 1848:19 Broadsides) 

The VMHC has several glee club items in its collection. The earliest item, an 1848 broadside entitled “Rally Whigs” (VMHC 1848:19), is a poem about the presidential campaign of Zachary Taylor dedicated to the Alexandria Glee Club. The same sheet contains a second poem, “All Hail the Whig Chieftain,” which was written for the Ashland Glee Club of Alexandria. With choruses of “Rally Whigs!” and “For brave Rough and Ready, hurrah,” these are politically motivated songs, although there are no arrangements accompanying the lyrics.  

One can get a better sense of the musical repertoire of nineteenth-century glee clubs from the papers of Louis Schehlmann (Mss1 Sch248 a). Mr. Schehlmann was conductor of the Concordia Glee Club and the Lynchburg Mozart Association as well as professor of music at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College from c. 1883 to 1899. Half of a scrapbook is devoted to programs from the Lynchburg Mozart Association and Concordia Glee Club, who performed together on a regular basis. Their repertoire consisted mostly of music by such Romantic composers as Dudley Buck and Adolphe-Charles Adam, with the chorus “De l’enfer” from Faust by Charles Gounod being a favorite.    

Image
Program of the Virginia Tech Glee Club. (Virginia Museum of History and Culture, Call no. LD5693.V25 V6 1900z) 

The VMHC’s collection also includes a program of the Virginia Tech Glee Club (LD5693.V25 V6 1900z). The roster lists forty-six members under the musical direction of Mildred Heimlich. The repertoire runs the gamut from Baroque (Bach and Handel) to show tunes (a selection of songs from My Fair Lady). Although there is no date on this publication, the inclusion of Broadway numbers is more in harmony with the pop cultural images of modern glee clubs.