Historic Montana Violin & Piano, 1890-1920

Recital via Railroad

Journey into Montana’s Past

Baroque Music Montana created a concert series based on the first violin recitals performed in Montana, and took it on the road from Bozeman to Billings, Lewistown, and Dillon. Violinist Carrie Krause was accompanied by pianist Julie Gosswiller on piano.

Continuing a Tradition

Once the railroad was laid and before the advent of movies, the best violinists in the world—including Kreisler, Ysaye, Maud Powell, Jan Kubelik, Mischa Elman, and their phenomenal recital pianists—shared the most beloved and impressive tunes of the day across Montana from Belt to Livingston. This program explored those fabulous players, the opera houses and theaters where they played, and the repertoire beloved to them and audiences both then and today.

Pianist Julie Gosswiller and Carrie Krause visited Lewistown, Billings, Dillon, and three locations in Bozeman. Each concert shared details specific to that city’s musical history including its theaters, who came to town, and how the evening was programmed based on historic newspaper clippings.

Lewistown was characterized by local visitors from Butte as it was on the spur railroad line, Billings had many impressive violinists including one with his hand insured for $50,000, Dillon had its own resident traveling virtuoso who was head of the music school there, and Bozeman’s opera house saw the likes of Maud Powell and Mischa Elman. It would be fascinating to continue this research for Helena, Butte, and Missoula.

old bw photo train 1897

Sleuthing history

Carrie dug up original material to research this concert, including newspaper clippings, ads, playbills, and more, thanks to Karen Shaffer, Founder and President of the Maud Powell Society; Cecelia Gavinsky, Collections Manager of the Western Heritage Center in Billings; Jodi Allison-Bunnell, Head of Archives and Special Collections, Montana State University Library; Zoe Ann Stoltz, Reference Historian, Montana Historical Society in Helena; and the Gallatin History Museum in Bozeman.

More history to be made

Recital via Railroad is a continuation of an exploration of music in Montana history.  2021 brought our Historic Churches Tour, featuring Bach’s Sonatas & Partitas for Solo Violin.

Stay tuned for next season’s concert series “Corelli: A Love of Long Walks and Art,” which will bring Arcangelo Corelli’s music into art filled spaces from Willow Creek to Boulder, connecting music lovers and musicians with rural galleries, museums, and artists. Featuring New York-based cellist Sarah Stone and harpischordist Gabe Shuford.

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