“The Mary Lincoln Polka”

Have you ever heard “The Mary Lincoln Polka,” which was premiered on Feb. 5, 1862 at the (now infamous) White House ball? Did you know you can listen to it today?

The polka was written in honor of the First Lady by Francis Scala, leader of the U.S. Marine Band. After the Lincoln administration ended, however, there is no record of the polka ever being performed again and the music was apparently lost to history. But then Jane Gastineau of the Lincoln Collection of the Allen County (Indiana) Public Library found the manuscript in the archives of the Marine Band.

Evanston, IL, attorney Michael Poulos transcribed and arranged this music for a small ensemble consisting of members of the Chicago Bar Association Symphony Orchestra, and he lead its performance in a concert in Representative Hall of the Old State Capitol in Springfield, IL, on President’s Day weekend, 2013.

You can listen to the performance on this website: https://cdm16089.contentdm.oclc.org/…/c…/p15155coll1/id/2343

The original score is now part of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection, whose management is shared by the Indiana State Museum and the Allen County Public Library.

(cover image: 1862 White House Ball original printed in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Journal, courtesy The Library of Congress.)

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