November 11 ‘At the Fair’ Performance Will Showcase Music from 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition

The Gaylord Music Library’s sheet music collection includes a wealth of compositions related to St. Louis’ 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (also known as the St. Louis World Fair). The music library’s digital exhibit “Class, Race, and Sheet Music at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition” offers an intriguing look at tunes that were inspired by and published around the time of the fair.

at-the-fairThe sounds of the era will come alive on Friday, November 11, at WU’s 560 Music Center, when WU music students and alumni perform selected compositions in a recital called “At the Fair: Music from the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition.” Co-sponsored by the WU Libraries and the WU Department of Music, the free performance will take place in Pillsbury Theatre at 7:30 p.m.

Karen Olson, technical services assistant at the Gaylord Music Library, will give a lecture on the music prior to the recital, which will include a mix of instrumental and vocal selections.

“The music is very much of its time,” Olson says. “There are a number of marches and ballads. It’s basically parlor music that occasionally aspires to be classical music.”

Many of the songs commemorate elements of the expo—Scott Joplin’s “The Cascades: A Rag” was inspired by the fair’s waterfalls—but the music also provides insights into St. Louis history, illuminating the perspectives on race and global issues that were prevalent at the time.


The performance is supported by an Innovation Grant from WU Libraries. For more information, contact the Gaylord Music Library at 314-935-5563 or

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