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The Death of Nelson

Date: 1850s
Dimensions:
Overall: 360 x 260 mm, 0.06 kg
Medium: Ink, cotton, lithograph on paper
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Ephemera
Object Name: Sheet music
Object No: 00018498
Place Manufactured:United Kingdom

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    Description
    This sheet music was a tribute to the death of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson in 1805. It features a lithographic print of the Battle of Trafalgar, titled 'The English Fleet'. This music was promoted as a national song for the British people and aimed to generate patriotism and national solidarity during the time. It was first performed in 1811, with this edition sung by Mr Sims Reeves (1821-1900) in the 1850s.
    SignificanceThis early example of sheet music represents patriotism and national pride associated with the British war hero, Admiral Lord Nelson. This song was very popular for its time and is an example of how Nelson's celebrity had a continual impact on British society.
    HistoryOn 21 October 1805, the Battle of Trafalgar was fought off the south-west coast of Spain. It was the final demise of the French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte's threatened invasion of Britain. Under the command of Vice Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson, the Royal Navy defeated the combined French and Spanish fleets - but it came at a high price when Nelson was mortally wounded.

    The death of Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805 was a great blow to the British people. It generated an extensive industry in commemorative wares that still continues to this day. Horatio Nelson is one of the most celebrated figures in British history. Any place even remotely connected with him produces souvenirs ranging from postcards, bookmarks, glassware and ceramics.

    Sheet music offers an insight into popular culture and social values at the time of their production. The widely distributed pieces were fairly cheap to buy, making them popular purchases with the general public. The great Battle of Trafalgar between the English and the French was an attractive national theme and a sentimental story for the composer.

    This is an excerpt from Braham's 'The Death of Nelson':

    O'er Nelson's Tomb,
    With silent grief oppress'd,
    Britannia mourns her Hero,

    Now at rest
    But those bright laurels
    Ne'er shall fade with years,
    Whose leaves are water'd
    By a Nation's tears.

    Twas in Trafalgar's bay
    We saw the Frenchman lay,
    Each heart was bounding then.
    We scorned the foreign yoke,
    For our Ships were British Oak,
    And hearts of oak our men!
    Our Nelson mark'd them on the wave,
    Three cheers our gallant Seamen gave,
    Nor thought of home or beauty.
    Along the line this signal ran,
    England expects that ev'ry man
    This day will do his duty!
    Additional Titles

    Primary title: The Death of Nelson

    Web title: The Death of Nelson

    Related People
    Composer: John Braham
    Publisher: W Paxton

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