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Martha Washington & Women of the 18th Century -- Mount Vernon
Thursday, July 30, 2020, 06:30pm - 07:30pm
Contact Education Programs 703.799.5082 - "George Washington Teacher Institute"
Especially among wealthy planters like the Washingtons, music helped define gender roles. Shortly after marrying Martha, George purchased a violin and German flute for her son Jacky Custis, the boy, and a spinet harpsichord for his sister Patsy. Later Nelly Custis would be given a fine, English guitar. Not only did men and women play different instruments, but the opportunities to be instructed and perform on them varied, too. Dance was paramount to both genders, though, so this program will feature a guest demonstration by Cynthia Chin.


Several pieces will be drawn from The Bull-Finch, a music book George apparently gave Martha as a wedding gift in 1759, for example one entitled "The Jolly Toper." We'll also discuss a piece called "Lady Washington" which survives in period broadsides as well as manuscript sources. While that song is from the woman's perspective, "No scornful Beauty" represents a young male suitor's frustration with the courting process (which often involved music). Some of these selections are recorded on the Hildebrands' 1999 CD "George Washington: Music for the First President" (copies of which all teachers will be given, along with the teachers' study guide).

Location George Washington Library, Mount Vernon, VA.

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