by Richard McKinstry
sheet music covers were uncommon until the mid-nineteenth century
when three things happened: popular music grew to attract a wider
audience, largely through the proliferation of music halls; lithography
was invented and perfected; and there was an upsurge in the appreciation
of typography. By the time the Victorian Age was in full swing,
the sheet music of the day contained skillfully produced and attractive
illustrations. Today, it is possible to study and appreciate any
time period in American history by looking at a piece of illustrated
sheet music. Music is reflective of its era, and illustrations mirror
the time they were created. Compare, for example, a piece of sheet
music for a tune by Stephen Foster with another by Scott Joplin.
And, contrast the illustration depicting Little Red Riding Hood
for "Little Red Riding Hood Galop," ca. 1870, with the one used
for "A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody" popularized by the Ziegfeld
Follies in 1919.