Hassler's Polka Quadrilles No. 5

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HASSLER'S POLKA QUADRILLES. American, Quadrille Sets. The set of four polkas and a jig were composed and arranged by Philadelphia, Pa., journeyman composer and bandleader Mark Hassler (1834-1906). Hassler's band is given mention in Elizabeth Robins Pennell's 1914 memoir Our Philadelphia, in which she recalled (with some ennui) the society dances of her youth in the latter 19th century:

Philadelphia had a standard for its parties, as for everything, and to deviate from this standard, to attempt originality, to invent the “freak” entertainments of New York, would 'have been excessively bad form. You danced in the same spacious front and back parlors...to the same music by Hassler’s band; where you ate the same Terrapin, Croquettes, Chicken Salad, Oysters, Boned Turkey and Ice Cream, where the same Cotillon began at the same hour with the same figures and the same favors and the same partners. There was no getting away from the same people in Philadelphia. That was the worst of it.

Hassler was not native to the city, having emigrated in 1842 with his family from Germany, but they all found success in America. Father Henry was a violinist and conductor at the Arch Street Theatre in 1844, the Chestnut Street Theatre in 1845, and the Walnut Street Theatre from 1846 to 1855. He was accepted as a member of the Musical Fund Society in 1857, but not before his sons were members. Mark's brother Simon (1832-1901) also conducted orchestras, at the Walnut Street Theatre from 1865 to 1872, the Chestnut Street Theatre from 1872 to 1882, and the Chestnut Street Opera House from 1882 to 1899. Both brothers were composers and arrangers of various forms of dance music. As Ms. Pennell's memoir would indicate, Mark Hassler's dance orchestra was in great demand for dance events not only in greater Philadelphia, but also in Baltimore, Washington, and the new summer resort of Cape May, New Jersey [1]. He was reputedly responsible for introducing the waltzes of Johann Strauss to dance audiences in America.

The Polka-Quadrille replaced the usual simple walking steps used in the figures with the Polka “hop, step, step.”

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