The Snakecharmer

By: anon.
For: Large mixed ensemble
page one of The Snakecharmer

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The Snakecharmer


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Year of composition
Easy (Grades 1-3)
2 minutes
Classroom materials
License details
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An arrangement for class use, demonstrating ostinati, guitars work really well. Melodic instruments are interchangeable. I used cor anglais and soprano sax for an exotic sound.

The song was introduced a century ago by Sol Bloom, a show business promoter who later became a Congressman. He directed the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, celebrating the 400th anniversary of Columbus. One attraction, A Street In Cairo, included snake charmers, camel rides, and infamous dancers that later spawned the legend of Little Egypt. In his prestigious role, he made more money than the President of the United States–$1,000 a week. In his autobiography, Bloom claimed that he improvised the melody on the piano at a press briefing in 1893 to introduce Little Egypt. There is a suggestion that the original tune may have been of African folk origin however. Since he didn’t copyright the piece, several other composers of his time used the melody for their songs.

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