Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa

Porch and Playhouse, Parlor and Performance Hall: Traversing Boundaries in Gottschalk's The Banjo


This article reconsiders the cultural significance and historical impact of the well-known virtuosic piano composition The Banjo by Louis Moreau Gottschalk. Throughout the early nineteenth century, the banjo and the piano inhabited very specific and highly contrasting performance circumstances: black folk entertainment and minstrel shows for the former, white middle- and upper-class parlors and concert halls for the latter. In The Banjo, Louis Moreau Gottschalk lifted the banjo out of its familiar contexts and placed it in the spaces usually privileged for the piano. Taking its inspiration from both African American and minstrel banjo playing techniques, Gottschalk's composition relaxed and muddled the boundaries among performance spaces, racial and class divisions, and two conspicuously different musical instruments in an egalitarian effort to demonstrate that, contrary to the opinions of some mid-nineteenth-century musical critics and tastemakers, both the piano and the banjo have a place in the shaping of American music culture.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the Society for American Music
  • ISSN: 1752-1963
  • EISSN: 1752-1971
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-society-for-american-music
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 2
Total number of PDF views: 24 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 45 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between 16th May 2017 - 29th June 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.