It’s Friday, so it must be time for some Virginia Glee Club history.
Before the first Songs of the University of Virginia album, there was the songbook. Compiled by A. Frederick Wilson in 1906 and featuring a combination of the still familiar (“The Good Old Song,” “Drink To Me Only With Thine Eyes”) and the unfamiliar (“The Orange and the Blue”, “Upidee,” just about anything else), there are some fascinating trends in the music. Certainly lots of drinking songs, two sung fully in Latin, and lots of fight songs where “old Eli” (Yale) and “the tiger” (Princeton) are the opponents.
And there is much that is destined to remain obscure: certainly I can’t imagine how to interpret the song “The Man Who Has Plenty of Good Peanuts,” with its verse “The man who has plenty of Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations/And giveth his neighbor none /He shan’t have any of my Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations/When his Pomp’s peculiar patent perpetual pocket panoramic ponies for passing examinations are gone.” But with the majority of songs containing four part harmony, and with many fight songs that could be revived, the book is definitely worth a download.
Yes, download–you can get the PDF from Google Books, since the book is out of copyright. So while you’re waiting to purchase the Glee Club‘s new album Songs of the University of Virginia, check out some of the historical precedents.
For incentive, here’s the foreward, in which credit is given to the Virginia Glee Club of the time for keeping the songs alive:
P.S.: This is one of the only sources I’ve seen for sheet music for “Upidee,” one of three songs mentioned as a Virginia favorite in 1871 just before the first appearance of the Glee Club.