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The Chusan polka

Date: 1852
Overall: 341 x 250 mm, 0.04 kg
Medium: Ink on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Object Name: Sheet music
Object No: 00027122
Place Manufactured:Sydney

User Terms

    'The Chusan Polka' was performed by the band of her Majesty's sixth Regiment during a ball to honour the arrival of the steamship CHUSAN in 1852. The Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company vessel helped provide a regular mail service between Australia and Singapore, arriving with its first load of mail at Sydney on 3 August 1852. The event generated the publication of a number of souvenir pieces including sheet music scores. This polka was published at the request of the composer's friends.
    Significance'The Chusan Polka' represents popular Australian music of the mid-19th century and the commemoration of the CHUSAN, an importinent vessel of the Australian mail service.
    HistorySheet music offers an insight into popular culture and social values at the time of their production. They were widely distributed and sold cheaply, making them an easily accessible form of entertainment. Music was an integral part of people's social life in the home and at public events such as balls, recitals, taverns, concerts and theatres. By the mid-19th century many middle class families owned a piano and played popular songs including waltzes, quadrilles, galops, polkas and mazurkas. The launch or commemoration of a ship was a common reason for composing a piece.

    The CHUSAN was an iron-screw steamship built at Newcastle, England in 1852 with a minimal capacity of 690 tons. It was used on the Australian trade run during the mid-19th century and was the inaugural ship for the P&O line. In 1852 the ship came to Melbourne and Sydney carrying mail from Britain. This was the first time a steamship had replaced a sailing vessel and the CHUSAN was greeted with great excitement and jubilation. A ball was held in its honour with music including 'The Chusan Waltz' being specifically composed for the event. The CHUSAN then travelled on to Melbourne and was met with a similar reception. CHUSAN conducted a regular mail service from Singapore to Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney every two months. In 1861 it was sold to new owners from Hong Kong.
    Additional Titles

    Web title: The Chusan polka

    Primary title: The Chusan polka

    Related People
    Composer: W J Johnson

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