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The Authorship of "Dixie"
1859 | New York, New York
From the Richmond Dispatch, 5 Februay 1893:
To the Editor of the Dispatch:
You express a desire to know the name of the author of "Dixie." Perhaps I may help to reveal it.
About three or four years ago the late Charles L. Siegel related to me the following incidents which led to the composition of the "Dixie" melody: He was, he stated, just previous to the war a member of Dan. Byant's minstrel troupe, then performing in New York city. At that time the popular feature of minstrelsy was known as a "walk-around." Bryant, desiring to add something new to a well-worn repetory, requested one of his company, gifted with the talent of composing, to produce a new "walk around." When the work was completed Mr. Siegel, at the composer's request, accompanied him to a musical headquarters and heard the first rendering of the famous melody from the manuscript score. After some slight modifications the air was introduced by the troupe and gained great popularity. Some time after Bryant made a southern tour with his company and was in New Orleans at the breaking out of the war. It was there that the music of Dixie was received as an inspiration, and subsequently adopted as the national air of the Confederacy. Mr. Siegel told me the name of the composer, but I cannot now recall it. A few months after the recital of the story I happened upon a contribution of Brander Matthews in the Century Magazine, I think, entitled, "War Songs of the South," which confirmed Mr. Siegel's narrative, and, if I mistake not, Mr. Matthews gave the name of the composer of "Dixie." I sent the magazine to Mr. Siegel, and remember well with what enthusiasm that true music-lover referred to the interesting stories connected with the war-songs which Mr. Matthews had revived. DAVID J. BURR.
Available from Chronicling America:
Note: The Century Magazine article mentioned above was "The Songs of the War", and is available from http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=xK3PAAAAMAAJ.