[New York? 1865-1866]. 221pp. Oblong 12" x 10". Bound in black half morocco and black cloth with gilt-lettered label on front board [rubbed, corners worn, hinges weak], spine shorn with gatherings beginning to loosen. Music manuscript, meticulously handwritten in ink with some pencil. Endpapers stained, light scattered foxing. Very Good.
This two-act opera, by the multi-talented illustrator and political cartoonist, is based on Longfellow's 'The Courtship of Miles Standish'. The vocal score is for four solo characters: Miles Standish [bass], John Alden [tenor], Priscilla [soprano], Messenger [bass], plus male and mixed chorus. The handwriting is presumably that of the composer, Bush. A pencil sketch [page 11] of a song later found in its entirety in the score [page 44], makes it unlikely that this was written by a copyist. A few other pencil notations and corrections appear, with some measures crossed out in ink and rewritten or recomposed. Bush was a skilled composer: while the text-setting evidences some clumsiness, especially in recitative, the work shows the influence of early Verdi in ensemble setting; Schubert's treatment of Gretchen from Goethe's Faust; a little Berlioz, in choral treatment; even some Wagner, notably the character of Senta in The Flying Dutchman.
The passages selected from the Longfellow poem suggest an emphasis on the female character Priscilla, and sensitivity to the condition and plight of women in general. Page 109 contains the date 'January 9, 66', written at the end of one of Priscilla's extended sections. Both the overture and the second act remain unfinished. The conclusion of the overture seems to be sketched in pencil. The bound manuscript ends with a few empty staves but the volume is essentially filled. The work is in essence complete and could be performed with minimal additional composition. Item #23332