Before streaming and iPods, even before vinyl LP’s or Edison cylinders, when people wanted music, they often made it themselves. At the turn of the last century, Norristown had several music stores, which not only sold instruments and sheet music, but also published original compositions.
Several songs were written in honor of Norristown’s centennial in 1912. If you have a piano handy, you might want to play “Ring Those Bells – Hang Out the Flag,” by Joseph N. King or “Dear Norristown” by Samuel Stevens.
Stevens also wrote a song just for Norristown High School, which was played by the high school’s mandolin club, called, “The Diploma March and Two-Step.” I can’t help but wonder how a march sounded on mandolin, or how long Norristown High School had a mandolin club.
Willow Grove Park, once famous for it’s summer concerts, had its own march by Eugenio Sorrentino.
Not all of the pieces were about places in the county. William M. Wood composed “Teddy the Tried and the True,” in honor of Theodore Roosevelt and “Teddy’s Army” a scouting movement he started.
Finally, we have a piece of music called “Waters of the Perkiomen.” This one wasn’t written by locals, but by F. Henri Klickmann (perhaps best known for “Kitten on the Keys”) with lyrics by Al Dubin who wrote the lyrics for many songs for Hollywood musicals.
I managed to find a recording of “Waters of the Perkiomen.” You can check it out here.
Nowadays, we have a world of music at our fingertips, but looking at all this amazing local music, I wonder if we’ve lost something, too.