New `Angel of Music’ to be unveiled at Green-Wood

October 12, 2012 From Green-Wood Cemetery and Raanan Geberer Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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Louis Gottschalk was first Gershwin’

Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery is the final resting place for many famous musicians and composers.

While some are still well-known to the general public, such as Leonard Bernstein, others may not be as famous today. One of these is Louis Moreau Gottschalk (1829-1869), America’s first internationally recognized composer and virtuoso pianist.  

He was one of the first classical composers to incorporate Latin-American and African-American influences into his work, such as “A Night in the Tropics,” long before Anton Dvorak did the same in this “New World Symphony.”

Until 1959, Gottschalk’s grave, in the shape of a pedestal, held a sculpture called the “Angel of Music,” but that monument was destroyed by vandals in 1959. However, a new monument will be unveiled on Saturday at 1 p.m., with a new “Angel of Music” sculpture designed by sculptures Jill Burkee and Giancarlo Biagi.

Standing upon a marble pedestal and base, the new bronze angel will rise 11½ feet. The cast was created in Italy (Pietrasanta) and the sculpture was cast in Colorado at the Art Castings of Colorado foundry.

The ceremony will include remarks by Richard J. Moylan, Green-Wood president; the winning design team of Biagi and Burkee; a unique outdoor performance of Gottschalk piano compositions by pianist John Davis; and a talk by Gottschalk scholar Frederick Starr.

A reception and mini Gottschalk exhibit will follow in Green-Wood’s Historic Chapel.

In addition to his music, Gottschalk, who grew up in New Orleans, was a supporter of the Union cause during the Civil War and an opponent of slavery. He gave an estimated 1,000 concerts throughout the U.S., but after an affair with a female seminary student led to scandal, he moved to Latin America, where he eventually died of malaria.

Just before he collapsed and died, he had been playing a piece called, appropriately, “Morte.”

One music website, Compact Discoveries, calls him “The First Gershwin.”

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