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If Abraham Lincoln Had an iPod...

posted Feb 12, 2012, 7:49 AM by Steven Vaughan
To celebrate Abraham Lincoln's birthday today, let's explore the 16th president's musical tastes.  And since he could neither play an instrument nor carry a tune, here's what he might have chosen for his iPod...

“The Lincoln iPod would have needed a lot of memory,” says Miles Hoffman, commentator for National Public Radio (NPR) “as the president apparently enjoyed all sorts of music, and loved opera.”  He once attended a performance of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera at New York City's 4,000 seat Academy of Music; where he was criticized for wearing black gloves instead of white.  Gounod's Faust, with its famous “Soldier's Chorus” was a favorite; as was Flotow's romantic comedy Martha, which he had performed during his second inaugural festivities.  On March 15, 1865, exactly one month before he died, he enjoyed Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the National Theatre in Washington.  The president was often criticized for attending performances during war conflicts at Bull Run and Harper’s Ferry, to which he retorted, “The truth is, I must have a change of some sort, or die.”

Another big favorite of Lincoln's was “crossover” artist Louis Moreau Gottschalk.  Born in New Orleans, Gottschalk was a one-of-a-kind composer and virtuoso pianist, known for blending classical European pieces and styles with popular tunes of the day.

“Honest Abe” was also partial to popular music and sentimental ballads.  One of his favorites was an old Scottish love ballad called Annie Laurie.  He enjoyed hearing the songs of former slaves, especially I've Been in the Storm So Long and Nobody Knows the Trouble I've Seen.  He liked listening to the songs of Stephen Foster.  But remarkably, his all-time favorite was Dixie.  This was also performed at his inauguration, and he's been quoted as saying “I have always thought Dixie one of the best tunes I have ever heard.”  A friend recalled that whenever it was played, “The President kept time with his foot, and a genial smile made his strong, homely face almost beautiful.”
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