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For Benjamin Franklin's 300th Birthday in 2006

New CD and Music Book based on authentic period sources
Music in the Life of Benjamin Franklin-CD Music in the Life of Benjamin Franklin-Book



Music in the Life of
Benjamin Franklin:
Book/CD Set:

BF-bkcdset: $32.00
*BF-cd: List price-$15.00
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*BF-bk: List price-$19.00
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Listen to samples

Music in the Life of Benjamin Franklin

Recording by David & Ginger Hildebrand and Julianne Baird

Period reproduction instruments including Franklin's glass armonica will be featured on this recording.

The songs and instrumental pieces in this CD and book are those Benjamin Franklin knew and enjoyed during his long and eventful life. Franklin’s musical experiences were extremely varied and comprehensive for his day. Always an advocate for the common folk, Franklin delighted in sentimental Scots songs and broadside ballads. He authored comical texts to be sung as drinking songs. Yet as a diplomat and gentleman he was frequently at the Opera and at concerts in Philadelphia, Paris and London. He was familiar with works by George Frideric Handel, William Hayes, Francis Hopkinson, Anne-Louise Brillon, André Grétry, and Christoph Willibald Gluck.

Ben Franklin’s life was full of music—from the penny whistle which consumed all his Christmas money at age seven to the musical instrument he invented during his diplomatic stay in London. No other instrument brought him so much personal satisfaction as his glass “armonica.” Franklin found a way to turn wine glasses into a kind of keyboard instrument which became popular throughout Europe for its sweet sounds, especially at weddings and funerals. The ethereal sounds of this instrument can be heard on the recording that accompanies the book.

The project also includes opera music from Gluck’s Orphée and Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus, the latter with Franklin’s amusing criticism. There are several song-texts often attributed to Franklin, among them The Downfal of Pyracy about Blackbeard’s capture and I Sing My Plain Country Joan, to honor his wife Deborah. Franklin himself was the subject of ballads even during his lifetime. His good friend the Abbé Morellet roasted Franklin in song, suggesting that he had forsaken English tea for the superior pleasures of French wine.

Joining David and Ginger Hildebrand on the recording is Julianne Baird, a musician and scholar who is recognized internationally for her work in 18th-century music. She earned her B.A. and M.A. in music history from the Eastman School of Music and a Ph.D. in Musicology from Stanford University. Her book Introduction to the Art of Singing (Cambridge University Press), now in its third printing, is used by singers and professional schools throughout America and Europe. As a soloist and recording artist she has earned praise for a “virtuosic vocal style firmly rooted in scholarship.” With over 125 recordings to her credit on Decca and Deutsche Gramophone, Dr. Baird regularly conducts master classes and workshops at universities and conservatories throughout North America. She is a distinguished professor at Rutgers University.

Table of Contents
The Rising Sun The Stol'n Kiss
The Old Man's Wish The Mother Country
Dieu d'Amour, by Gretry The Downfal of Pyracy
Adagio K.V.356(K.V.617a), by Mozart See, Down Maria's Blushing Cheek, by Hopkinson
Que l'Hisorie sur l'Airain Hallow E'en
Minuetto II, by Brillon The Spanish Lady
J'ai perdu mon Euridice, by Gluck Sae Merry as We Twa hae Been
Fair Venus Calls La Voltaire & La Franklein
The Anthem Sung at Chester I Sing my Plain Country Joan
Auld Robin Gray Wise Men Flatt'ring, by Handel
The Antediluvians Were All Very Sober Ode on the Death of Franklin
The Free Mason/The Mason's Daughter  

Created and published September 18, 2001    Updated May 3, 2007
© 2001-2007. Colonial Music Institute(tm)