Collecting Delaware Books
It is not a book, but the audio compact disc (CD) "Music from the Banks of the Brandywine" is a wonderful piece of Delawareana.
Alfred I. du Pont, who saved the family company from dissolution or public ownership early this century, was an accomplished musician. As a young man he studied under the former concertmaster of the Berlin Philharmonic, a country fiddler, and a black banjo player. He eventually mastered the violin, flute, clarinet, cornet, piano, and bass. Alfred founded and financed the Tankopanicum Musical Club, an orchestra which met in his billiard room.
DuPont composed many pieces for this orchestra between 1901 and 1905. Later, in a fit of melancholy over his increasing deafness, he destroyed many of the scores. Only six survive. These form the major part of the CD and are played by the New Tankopanicum Orchestra, a 24-piece "theater" orchestra conducted by Brian Cox. Cox is largely responsible for the entire project. (Tankopanicum, pronounced tank-o-PAN-ih-cum, was the native American name for the Brandywine.)
The six A.I. duPont tunes are "La Chauffeuse," "Henry Clay March," "Louviers March," "Mignonne Gavotte," "Mother April March," and "Brandywine Belles." "La Chauffeuse" (the female driver) was written in 1902, possibly inspired by Alicia Bradford Maddox, who used to drive her husband to work through Henry Clay Village. It is a jaunty march, and one can easily imagine a lady in a huge hat, shifting and clutching with booted feet sticking out from a hobble skirt as she steers a chitty-chitty-bang-bang car through the rolling hills of Chateau Country of northern Delaware.
The CD starts with an orchestral version of "Our Delaware" by Will M.S. Brown. The words, not sung on the CD, were written by well-known Delaware poet George B. Hynson. A march, "Passing of the Regulars," by Brown is also included. The CD is rounded out by "Fugue in g minor" by Ruth Wales duPont, "Battleship Delaware," "Du Pont Song" (written for T. Coleman duPont's run for political office), and "The Dear Old Brandywine." The last two are sung by John Dennison, whose voice is perfect for the era.
I found the entire CD to be a delight. The New Tankopanicum Orchestra is bright and crisp. There is nothing muddy or tentative about it. The recording, which was done in a studio at the University of Delaware, is of excellent quality except for a few passages where the microphone might have been a bit too close to the percussion section.
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Copies can be bought at Classics Delaware (the record shop in the Grand Opera House) at 816 Market Street Mall, Wilmington DE 19801. The price is $9.99. If ordering by mail, include $3.50 for postage. The CD comes with a folder describing the music, the composers, and the orchestra, but be sure to specifically request a sheet with the words of this "Our Delaware" if you want one. — JPR
In 2006, I was unable to find an available copy of "Music from the Banks of the Brandywine." My own personal copy was the only one I had ever seen. I tracked down Brian Cox, who is now Band Director at Salesianum School in Wilmington. He said about 1,000 copies of the CD were made in 1993. Most were sold, but he has about 100. Write to him at Salesianum to order a copy at a reasonable price.
Mr. Cox also said,
"Besides Classics Delaware, they [the CDs] also were carried by Tower Records and all of the local museum gift shops. It also received air play on WFLN and WVUD, and has recently been used by NPR's Morning Edition in several broadcasts. It was also used as soundtrack music for the A & E Network's Biography series on the duPont family, and several locally produced documentary films, including the film they show in the visitors center at Longwood.
"After the recording was made, I made quite a few appearances giving lectures about the music, including a memorable concert at Winterthur featuring much of Ruth Wales duPont's music. The Delaware Symphony performed several of the works, as well as a few others that I discovered, but did not record.
"I'm hoping that in this age of much easier music production than in 93, I can make a follow up to the CD. I have enough sheet music for several more volumes. I'm also hoping to present some live performances if I can find the right venue. I was far less busy 13 years ago, but I still have the desire to get this historically important and very pleasant music out to the public today.
Let's all offer Mr. Cox encouragement in this enterprise. — JPR