The Song of the Lark
The Song of the Lark is the third novel by American author Willa Cather
Willa Cather
Willa Seibert Cather was an American author who achieved recognition for her novels of frontier life on the Great Plains, in works such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and The Song of the Lark. In 1923 she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for One of Ours , a novel set during World War I...

, written in 1915. The title comes from a painting of the same name by Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton
Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton
Jules Adolphe Aimé Louis Breton was a 19th-century French Realist painter. His paintings are heavily influenced by the French countryside and his absorption of traditional methods of painting helped make Jules Breton one of the primary transmitters of the beauty and idyllic vision of rural...


Plot introduction

Set in the 1890s in Moonstone, a fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

al place located in Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, The Song of the Lark is the self-portrait of an artist in the making. The story revolves around an ambitious young heroine, Thea Kronborg, who leaves her hometown to go to the big city to fulfill her dream of becoming a famous opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...


The novel captures Thea's independent-mindedness, her strong work ethic, and her ascent to her highest achievement. At each step along the way, her realization of the mediocrity of her peers propels her to greater levels of accomplishment, but in the course of her ascent she must discard those relationships which no longer serve her.

Part I: Friends of Childhood

In the fictional small town of Moonstone, Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

, Doctor Archie helps Mrs Kronborg give birth to her baby son, Thor. He also takes care of their daughter, Thea, who is sick with pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

. Years later, she goes to the Kohlers' for her piano lesson with Wunsch. Later, she runs into Dr. Archie, who tells her to go to his garden and collect strawberries. When she is there, she becomes alarmed by his wife's meanness. The doctor goes to Spanish Johnny's when he is sick. Later, Ray Kennedy goes out to the countryside with Johnny, his wife, Thea, Axel, and Gunner. Although she is only twelve and he is thirty, he dreams of becoming rich and marrying her when she is old enough. They all tell stories of striking it rich in silver mines out west.

Before Christmas
Christmas or Christmas Day is an annual holiday generally celebrated on December 25 by billions of people around the world. It is a Christian feast that commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ, liturgically closing the Advent season and initiating the season of Christmastide, which lasts twelve days...

, Thea plays the piano at a concert but the town paper praises her rival Lily which makes Thea angry. Tillie then turns down the local drama club's request to have Thea play a part in The Drummer Boy of Shiloh, Tillie believes that Thea is too busy and would not accept the part. After Christmas, Thea goes to the Kohlers' for another lesson, where Wunsch tells her about a Spanish opera singer who could sing an alto
Alto is a musical term, derived from the Latin word altus, meaning "high" in Italian, that has several possible interpretations.When designating instruments, "alto" frequently refers to a member of an instrumental family that has the second highest range, below that of the treble or soprano. Hence,...

 part of Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Gluck
Christoph Willibald Ritter von Gluck was an opera composer of the early classical period. After many years at the Habsburg court at Vienna, Gluck brought about the practical reform of opera's dramaturgical practices that many intellectuals had been campaigning for over the years...

. He also says she needs to learn German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

. Wunsch gets so drunk he passes out and gets hurt during the night. When he wakes up again he turns violent, fells down the Kohlers's cote, and is eventually brought back to the house by other towndwellers. Ten days later, all of his students have discontinued their lessons with him, he decides to leave the town. Shortly after, Thea drops out of school and takes up his students; at fifteen she begins to work full time.

Later, Ray lets Thea and her mother go to Denver on his train. They stop at the fictional town of Wassiwappa, where they have lunch with the station agent. They travel past Winslow, Arizona
Winslow, Arizona
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 9,520 people, 2,754 households, and 1,991 families residing in the city. The population density was 773.1 people per square mile . There were 3,198 housing units at an average density of 259.7 per square mile...

 and Mr. Kronborg insists that Thea should go to church meetings more often because Thea isn't as perfect as Anna. However, she becomes sad when she sees how a local tramp is ridiculed and made to leave, wondering whether the Bible wouldn't tell people to help him instead. Dr. Archie tells her that people have to look after themselves. On the way from Moonstone to Saxony, Ray's train has an accident and the next day he bids an emotional goodbye to Thea before he dies. After the funeral, Dr. Archie informs Mr. Kronborg that Ray has bequeathed six hundred dollars to Thea for her to go to Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

 and study there. Her father agrees to let her go despite her only being seventeen.

Part II: The Song of the Lark

In Chicago, Thea moves close to the parish of a Swedish Reformed Church with two German
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 women; she also sings in the choir
A choir, chorale or chorus is a musical ensemble of singers. Choral music, in turn, is the music written specifically for such an ensemble to perform.A body of singers who perform together as a group is called a choir or chorus...

 and in funeral
A funeral is a ceremony for celebrating, sanctifying, or remembering the life of a person who has died. Funerary customs comprise the complex of beliefs and practices used by a culture to remember the dead, from interment itself, to various monuments, prayers, and rituals undertaken in their honor...

s for a stipend, and takes piano lessons with Mr. Harsanyi. At dinner with Mr. Harsanyi, she mentions that she sings in a church choir, and he asks her to sing and he is very impressed by her voice. Later, he meets with the conductor of the Chicago Orchestra and asks him who is the best voice teacher in the area and the conductor tells him that it is Madison Bowers. He then parts with Thea, explaining that her voice is her true artistic gift, not her playing. After several weeks of singing lessons, she takes a train back to Moonstone and she appears to have grown a lot. She goes to a Mexican ball with Spanish Johnny and sings for them. Back in her house, Anna reproaches her for singing for them and not their father's church. Her ambition takes her back to Chicago.

Part III: Stupid Faces

Back in Chicago, Thea keeps moving from one home to another. She grows tired of Bowers' shoddy students until she meets Fred Ottenburg, a rich young man. He takes her to meet the Nathanmeyers, a rich family, and they like her well enough to give her a job singing in a show that they are having. Fred suggests that she spend the summer on his friend's ranch in Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

 because his family owns the whole canyon
A canyon or gorge is a deep ravine between cliffs often carved from the landscape by a river. Rivers have a natural tendency to reach a baseline elevation, which is the same elevation as the body of water it will eventually drain into. This forms a canyon. Most canyons were formed by a process of...


Part IV: The Ancient People

Thea gets off the train at Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff, Arizona
Flagstaff is a city located in northern Arizona, in the southwestern United States. In 2010, the city's population was 65,870. The population of the Metropolitan Statistical Area was at 134,421 in 2010. It is the county seat of Coconino County...

, close to the San Francisco Peaks
San Francisco Peaks
The San Francisco Peaks are a volcanic mountain range located in north central Arizona, just north of Flagstaff.The highest summit in the range, Humphreys Peak, is the highest point in the state of Arizona at in elevation. The San Francisco Peaks are the remains of an eroded stratovolcano...

. Back in the wilderness, she starts relaxing. Ottenburg then joins her where they kiss by a rock pile but then get stranded outside in a storm. They decide to get married but Ottenburg says that they should live in Mexico City
Mexico City
Mexico City is the Federal District , capital of Mexico and seat of the federal powers of the Mexican Union. It is a federal entity within Mexico which is not part of any one of the 31 Mexican states but belongs to the federation as a whole...

. However, Ottenburg doesn't tell her he is already married, even though he and his wife have been estranged for many years.

Part V: Doctor Archie's Venture

Dr. Archie goes to Denver to look over some silver investments. He receives a telegram from Thea summoning him to New York City. There, she tells Fred she will but leaving shortly after he told her he couldn't marry her. Archie goes to dinner with Ottenburg and Thea. Later, Fred goes away to his unconscious mother, who fell from a carriage. When he returns, Thea ponders on the futility of her ambition, but comes to the conclusion that it is worth giving it a shot.

Part VI: Kronborg Ten Years Later

Ten years later, Dr. Archie has moved to Denver after his mining investments went up and his wife has died. Despite this, his life is better. He has helped get Governor Alden elected, although Fred and he admit the politician's double talk has proved to be disappointing. Archie attends Thea's operatic performance at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and later he talks to her at her hotel, they meet again at four the next day. Later they meet again with Fred; she performs the end of an opera at the last minute but performs very well. Thea then takes the time to talk both to Archie and Fred about what she has been up to. Finally, she gives another performance and Harsanyi is in the audience, who is overwhelmed by her performance. The novel ends with Tillie, the only remaining Kronborg who still lives in Moonstone


  • Doctor Howard Archie, barely thirty, elegant.
  • Mrs Archie, her maiden name is Belle White. She is from Lansing, Michigan
    Lansing, Michigan
    Lansing is the capital of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is located mostly in Ingham County, although small portions of the city extend into Eaton County. The 2010 Census places the city's population at 114,297, making it the fifth largest city in Michigan...

  • Larry, Doctor Archie's errand boy.
  • Mr Peter Kronborg, the Methodist minister. he has seven children plus the baby. born in a Scandinavian colony in Minnesota
    Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

    , went to school in Indiana
    Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

  • Mrs Kronborg, she speaks Swedish.
  • Thea Kronborg, the protagonist. She is eleven years old at the onset of the novel. After studying in Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    , she becomes a renowned opera singer in Dresden
    Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

  • Professor Wunsch, a music teacher with a drinking problem. He lives with the Kohlers. He has taught in St Louis and Kansas City
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

  • Spanish Johnny, a harness
    Safety harness
    A safety harness is a form of protective equipment designed to protect a person, animal, or object from injury or damage. The harness is an attachment between a stationary and non-stationary object and is usually fabricated from rope, cable or webbing and locking hardware...

     maker. He used to be a painter in Trinidad
    Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands and numerous landforms which make up the island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. It is the southernmost island in the Caribbean and lies just off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. With an area of it is also the fifth largest in...

    . He plays the mandolin
    A mandolin is a musical instrument in the lute family . It descends from the mandore, a soprano member of the lute family. The mandolin soundboard comes in many shapes—but generally round or teardrop-shaped, sometimes with scrolls or other projections. A mandolin may have f-holes, or a single...

    . Real name Juan Tellamantez.
  • Mrs Tellamantez, Johnny's wife.
  • Famos Serrenos, Spanish Johnny's cousin. He worked in a mine in Moonstone.
  • Thor Kronborg, the baby son at the outset of the novel. Later, he works as Doctor Archie's chauffeur
    A chauffeur is a person employed to drive a passenger motor vehicle, especially a luxury vehicle such as a large sedan or limousine.Originally such drivers were always personal servants of the vehicle owner, but now in many cases specialist chauffeur service companies, or individual drivers provide...

  • Tillie Kronborg. She is the remaining Kronborg in Moonstone at the end of the novel.
  • Mrs Paulina Kohler. She comes from the Rhine Valley
    Rhine Valley
    The Rhine Valley is a glacial alpine valley, formed by the Alpine Rhine , i.e. the section of the Rhine River between the confluence of the Anterior Rhine and Posterior Rhine at Reichenau and its mouth at Lake Constance....

     and speaks little English. She likes to take care of her garden.
  • Mr Fritz Kohler, the local tailor.
  • The Kronborg's children, namely Axel, Gunner, and Anna (the elder daughter), Gus, (a local clerk in a drygoods store), Charley.
  • Mrs Smiley, a millinery shop keeper.
  • Billy Beemer, an old drunkard who died while playing with a switch engine.
  • Ray Kennedy, a train conductor.
  • Mrs Lively Johnson, a Baptist
    Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

     and a member of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union
    Woman's Christian Temperance Union
    The Woman's Christian Temperance Union was the first mass organization among women devoted to social reform with a program that "linked the religious and the secular through concerted and far-reaching reform strategies based on applied Christianity." Originally organized on December 23, 1873, in...

    . She is the president of a committee in the Moonstone Orchestra. She learnt to play the piano in Grinnell, Iowa
    Grinnell, Iowa
    Grinnell is a city in Poweshiek County, Iowa, United States. The population was 9,218 at the 2010 census. Grinnell was named after Josiah Bushnell Grinnell and is the home of Grinnell College.- History :...

  • Lily Fisher, Thea's rival.
  • Upping, a jeweller, the 'trainer' of a drama club.
  • Joe Giddy, Ray's brakeman.
  • Mr Carsen, a local carpenter
    A carpenter is a skilled craftsperson who works with timber to construct, install and maintain buildings, furniture, and other objects. The work, known as carpentry, may involve manual labor and work outdoors....

  • Anna, a conventional Methodist girl.
  • Reverend Lars Larsen, a friend of Mr Kronborg's in Chicago.
  • Hartley Evans, a friend of Dr Archie's, a throat specialist.
  • Andor Harsanyi, a piano teacher. His wife is in her thirties. They have a daughter, Tanya, and a son, Andor.
  • Mrs Lorch, a German parishioner in Chicago.
  • Mrs Irene Andersen, Mrs Lorch's daughter. She sings in the Mozart society in Chicago. She has married a Swedish man.
  • Oscar Andersen, Irene's late Swedish husband.
  • Mr Eckman, one of Mrs Lorch's lodgers. He works in a slaughterhouse
    A slaughterhouse or abattoir is a facility where animals are killed for consumption as food products.Approximately 45-50% of the animal can be turned into edible products...

     in Packingtown.
  • Theodore Thomas, the conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
  • Madison Bowers, a singing teacher in Chicago.-man
  • Maggie Evans, a girl from Moonstone who died. Thea won't sing at her funeral.
  • Miguel Ramas, a Mexican from Moonstone. He has two cousins, Silvo and Felipe.
  • Mrs Miguel Ramas, Miguel Ramas's mother.
  • Famos Serrenos, a bricklayer.
  • Miss Adler, 'Bowers's morning accompanist, an intelligent Jewish girl from Evanston
    Evanston, Illinois
    Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

  • Hiram Bowers, Bowers's father, a choirmaster in Boston
    Boston is the capital of and largest city in Massachusetts, and is one of the oldest cities in the United States. The largest city in New England, Boston is regarded as the unofficial "Capital of New England" for its economic and cultural impact on the entire New England region. The city proper had...

  • Mrs Priest
  • Jessie Darcey
  • Mr Philip Frederick Ottenburg, the scion of a beer magnate. He went to Harvard.or Fred Ottenburg
  • The Nathanmeyers, a family of rich Jews, friends with the Ottenburgs.
  • Katarina Furst, Fred Ottenburg's mother.
  • Henry Biltmer. He lives on Ottenburg's ranch in Arizona.
  • Mrs Biltmer, Henry Biltmer's wife. She cooks meals for her husband, Thea and Ottenburg.
  • Dick Brisbane, a friend of Ottenburg's from Kansas City
    Kansas City, Missouri
    Kansas City, Missouri is the largest city in the U.S. state of Missouri and is the anchor city of the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, the second largest metropolitan area in Missouri. It encompasses in parts of Jackson, Clay, Cass, and Platte counties...

  • Edith Beers, Ottenburg's wife. She now lives in Santa Barbara
    Santa Barbara, California
    Santa Barbara is the county seat of Santa Barbara County, California, United States. Situated on an east-west trending section of coastline, the longest such section on the West Coast of the United States, the city lies between the steeply-rising Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean...

    . She was originally engaged to Dick Brisbane.
  • Alphonse, the hansom driver for Ottenburg and Edith in New York City.
  • The financier from Denver
  • Thomas Burk, Dr Archie's assistant.
  • Jasper Flight, an undaunted investor.
  • Pinky Alden, the governor that Doctor Archie helped get elected.
  • Tai, Doctor Archie's Japanese servant.
  • Therese, Thea's maid.
  • Mr Oliver Landry, an accompanist. He grew up in Cos Cob and later helped Thea whilst in Germany.
  • Necker, a successful opera singer.
  • Nordquist, a man Thea nearly married.

Allusions to other works

  • Literature: Nikolaus Lenau
    Nikolaus Lenau
    Nikolaus Lenau was the nom de plume of Nikolaus Franz Niembsch Edler von Strehlenau , was a German language Austrian poet.-Biography:...

    's Don Juan
    Don Juan
    Don Juan is a legendary, fictional libertine whose story has been told many times by many authors. El burlador de Sevilla y convidado de piedra by Tirso de Molina is a play set in the fourteenth century that was published in Spain around 1630...

    , Lord Byron ('My native land, good night', 'Maid of Athens', 'There was a sound of revelry', Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
    Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
    Childe Harold's Pilgrimage is a lengthy narrative poem in four parts written by Lord Byron. It was published between 1812 and 1818 and is dedicated to "Ianthe". The poem describes the travels and reflections of a world-weary young man who, disillusioned with a life of pleasure and revelry, looks...

    ), Virgil-Ovid, Honoré de Balzac
    Honoré de Balzac
    Honoré de Balzac was a French novelist and playwright. His magnum opus was a sequence of short stories and novels collectively entitled La Comédie humaine, which presents a panorama of French life in the years after the 1815 fall of Napoleon....

    's A Distinguished Provincial At Paris, Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, Romantic, literary critic and philosopher who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He is probably best known for his poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla...

    's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
    The Rime of the Ancient Mariner is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and was published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a later revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss...

    , Hugh Reginald Haweis
    Hugh Reginald Haweis
    Reverend Hugh Reginald Haweis was an English cleric and writer.-Biography:Reverend H.R. Haweis was born in Egham, Surrey in 1838, the son of the Rev. John Oliver...

    , Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat...

    , Walter Scott
    Walter Scott
    Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright, and poet, popular throughout much of the world during his time....

    's Waverley Novels
    Waverley Novels
    The Waverley Novels are a long series of books by Sir Walter Scott. For nearly a century they were among the most popular and widely-read novels in all of Europe. Because he did not publicly acknowledge authorship until 1827, they take their name from Waverley , which was the first...

    , Washington Irving
    Washington Irving
    Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

    , Thomas Paine
    Thomas Paine
    Thomas "Tom" Paine was an English author, pamphleteer, radical, inventor, intellectual, revolutionary, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States...

    's The Age of Reason
    The Age of Reason
    The Age of Reason; Being an Investigation of True and Fabulous Theology is a deistic pamphlet, written by eighteenth-century British radical and American revolutionary Thomas Paine, that criticizes institutionalized religion and challenges the legitimacy of the Bible, the central sacred text of...

    , Robert Burns
    Robert Burns
    Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and a lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland, and is celebrated worldwide...

    , William Cullen Bryant
    William Cullen Bryant
    William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

    's Thanatopsis
    "Thanatopsis" is a poem by the American poet William Cullen Bryant.-Overview:The title is from the Greek thanatos and -opsis ; it has often been translated as "Meditation upon Death"...

    , William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare
    William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon"...

    's Hamlet
    The Tragical History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, or more simply Hamlet, is a tragedy by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written between 1599 and 1601...

    , and Jules Verne
    Jules Verne
    Jules Gabriel Verne was a French author who pioneered the science fiction genre. He is best known for his novels Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , A Journey to the Center of the Earth , and Around the World in Eighty Days...

  • Music and the performing arts: Fay Templeton
    Fay Templeton
    Fay Templeton was an American stage actress.Her parents were actors/vaudevillians and she followed in their footsteps, making her Broadway debut in 1900. She continued to appear there until 1934...

    , Carl Czerny
    Carl Czerny
    Carl Czerny was an Austrian pianist, composer and teacher. He is best remembered today for his books of études for the piano. Czerny's music was profoundly influenced by his teachers, Muzio Clementi, Johann Nepomuk Hummel, Antonio Salieri and Ludwig van Beethoven.-Early life:Carl Czerny was born...

    , Jenny Lind
    Jenny Lind
    Johanna Maria Lind , better known as Jenny Lind, was a Swedish opera singer, often known as the "Swedish Nightingale". One of the most highly regarded singers of the 19th century, she is known for her performances in soprano roles in opera in Sweden and across Europe, and for an extraordinarily...

    , Claudia Muzio, Clementi, Carl Reinecke
    Carl Reinecke
    Carl Heinrich Carsten Reinecke was a German composer, conductor, and pianist.-Biography:Reinecke was born in Altona, Hamburg, Germany; until 1864 the town was under Danish rule. He studied with his father, Johann Peter Rudolph Reinecke, a music teacher...

    , Maggie Mitchell
    Maggie L. Walker
    Maggie Lena Walker was an African American teacher and businesswoman. Walker was the first African American female bank president and the first woman to charter a bank in the United States. As a leader, she achieved successes with the vision to make tangible improvements in the way of life for...

    , Johann Strauss II
    Johann Strauss II
    Johann Strauss II , also known as Johann Baptist Strauss or Johann Strauss, Jr., the Younger, or the Son , was an Austrian composer of light music, particularly dance music and operettas. He composed over 500 waltzes, polkas, quadrilles, and other types of dance music, as well as several operettas...

    's The Blue Danube
    The Blue Danube
    The Blue Danube is the common English title of An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 , a waltz by the Austrian composer Johann Strauss II, composed in 1866...

    , Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven
    Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential composers of all time.Born in Bonn, then the capital of the Electorate of Cologne and part of...

    , Frédéric Chopin
    Frédéric Chopin
    Frédéric François Chopin was a Polish composer and virtuoso pianist. He is considered one of the great masters of Romantic music and has been called "the poet of the piano"....

    , Johann Sebastian Bach
    Johann Sebastian Bach
    Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer, organist, harpsichordist, violist, and violinist whose sacred and secular works for choir, orchestra, and solo instruments drew together the strands of the Baroque period and brought it to its ultimate maturity...

    , Robert Schumann
    Robert Schumann
    Robert Schumann, sometimes known as Robert Alexander Schumann, was a German composer, aesthete and influential music critic. He is regarded as one of the greatest and most representative composers of the Romantic era....

    , Johann Nepomuk Hummel
    Johann Nepomuk Hummel
    Johann Nepomuk Hummel or Jan Nepomuk Hummel was an Austrian composer and virtuoso pianist. His music reflects the transition from the Classical to the Romantic musical era.- Life :...

    , Antonin Dvořák
    Antonín Dvorák
    Antonín Leopold Dvořák was a Czech composer of late Romantic music, who employed the idioms of the folk music of Moravia and his native Bohemia. Dvořák’s own style is sometimes called "romantic-classicist synthesis". His works include symphonic, choral and chamber music, concerti, operas and many...

    , Henrietta Sontag, Clara Morris
    Clara Morris
    Clara Morris was an American actress.-Biography:Born in Toronto, Canada, her real name was Morrison. She was reared in Cleveland, Ohio, where at the Academy of Music she became a member of the ballet and afterward leading actress.She went to New York in 1870 as a member of Daly's company...

    , Helena Modjeska
    Helena Modjeska
    Helena Modjeska Helena Modjeska Helena Modjeska (October 12, 1840 – April 8, 1909, whose actual Polish surname was Modrzejewska , was a renowned actress who specialized in Shakespearean and tragic roles.Modjeska was the mother of Polish-American bridge engineer Ralph Modjeski....

    , Charles Gounod
    Charles Gounod
    Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, known for his Ave Maria as well as his operas Faust and Roméo et Juliette.-Biography:...

    's Ave Maria
    Ave Maria (Gounod)
    The Bach/Gounod Ave Maria is a popular and much-recorded setting of the Latin text Ave Maria.Written by French Romantic composer Charles Gounod in 1859, his Ave Maria consists of a melody superimposed over the Prelude No. 1 in C major, BWV 846, from Book I of The Well-Tempered Clavier, written by...

    , John Philip Sousa
    John Philip Sousa
    John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

    , Gustav Mahler
    Gustav Mahler
    Gustav Mahler was a late-Romantic Austrian composer and one of the leading conductors of his generation. He was born in the village of Kalischt, Bohemia, in what was then Austria-Hungary, now Kaliště in the Czech Republic...

    , Richard Wagner
    Richard Wagner
    Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

    's Tannhäuser
    Tannhäuser (opera)
    Tannhäuser is an opera in three acts, music and text by Richard Wagner, based on the two German legends of Tannhäuser and the song contest at Wartburg...

    and Der Ring des Nibelungen
    Der Ring des Nibelungen
    Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

    , Ignacy Jan Paderewski
    Ignacy Jan Paderewski
    Ignacy Jan Paderewski GBE was a Polish pianist, composer, diplomat, politician, and the second Prime Minister of the Republic of Poland.-Biography:...

    ; Gluck's Orpheo ("Che faro, senza Euridice" (italian); "Ach, ich habe sie verloren" (german))
  • The Bible
    The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

    : Tower of Babel
    Tower of Babel
    The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...

    , Noah's Ark
    Noah's Ark
    Noah's Ark is a vessel appearing in the Book of Genesis and the Quran . These narratives describe the construction of the ark by Noah at God's command to save himself, his family, and the world's animals from the worldwide deluge of the Great Flood.In the narrative of the ark, God sees the...

    , Jephthah, Rizpah
    Rizpah was the daughter of Aiah, and one of Saul's concubines. She was the mother of Armoni and Mephibosheth .After the death of Saul, Abner took her as wife, resulting in a quarrel between him and Saul's son and successor, Ishbosheth. The quarrel led to Abner's going over to the side of David, ...

    , 'David
    David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

    's lament for Absalom
    According to the Bible, Absalom or Avshalom was the third son of David, King of Israel with Maachah, daughter of Talmai, King of Geshur. describes him as the most handsome man in the kingdom...

    ', and Mary Magdalen.
  • The visual arts: Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot
    Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot was a French landscape painter and printmaker in etching. Corot was the leading painter of the Barbizon school of France in the mid-nineteenth century...

    , Barbizon school
    Barbizon school
    The Barbizon school of painters were part of a movement towards realism in art, which arose in the context of the dominant Romantic Movement of the time. The Barbizon school was active roughly from 1830 through 1870...

    , Dying Gaul
    Dying Gaul
    The Dying Gaul , formerly known as the Dying Gladiator, is an ancient Roman marble copy of a lost Hellenistic sculpture that is thought to have been executed in bronze, which was commissioned some time between 230 BC and 220 BC by Attalus I of Pergamon to celebrate his victory over the Celtic...

    , Venus de Milo
    Venus de Milo
    Aphrodite of Milos , better known as the Venus de Milo, is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Created at some time between 130 and 100 BC, it is believed to depict Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love and beauty. It is a marble sculpture, slightly...

    , Jean-Léon Gérôme
    Jean-Léon Gérôme
    Jean-Léon Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor in the style now known as Academicism. The range of his oeuvre included historical painting, Greek mythology, Orientalism, portraits and other subjects, bringing the Academic painting tradition to an artistic climax.-Life:Jean-Léon Gérôme was born...

    , Henri Rousseau
    Henri Rousseau
    Henri Julien Félix Rousseau was a French Post-Impressionist painter in the Naïve or Primitive manner. He was also known as Le Douanier , a humorous description of his occupation as a toll collector...

    , Édouard Manet
    Édouard Manet
    Édouard Manet was a French painter. One of the first 19th-century artists to approach modern-life subjects, he was a pivotal figure in the transition from Realism to Impressionism....

    , and Anders Zorn
    Anders Zorn
    Anders Leonard Zorn was one of Sweden’s foremost artists who obtained international success as a painter, sculptor and printmaker in etching.-Biography:...


[Weber and Field's Music Hall]

Allusions to actual history

  • Historical figures such as Napoleon III, George Washington
    George Washington
    George Washington was the dominant military and political leader of the new United States of America from 1775 to 1799. He led the American victory over Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War as commander-in-chief of the Continental Army from 1775 to 1783, and presided over the writing of...

    , William H. Prescott
    William H. Prescott
    William Hickling Prescott was an American historian and Hispanist, who is widely recognized by historiographers to have been the first American scientific historian...

    , Robert G. Ingersoll
    Robert G. Ingersoll
    Robert Green "Bob" Ingersoll was a Civil War veteran, American political leader, and orator during the Golden Age of Freethought, noted for his broad range of culture and his defense of agnosticism. He was nicknamed "The Great Agnostic."-Life and career:Robert Ingersoll was born in Dresden, New York...

    , Julius Caesar
    Julius Caesar
    Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman and a distinguished writer of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the gradual transformation of the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire....

    , and Cato the Younger
    Cato the Younger
    Marcus Porcius Cato Uticensis , commonly known as Cato the Younger to distinguish him from his great-grandfather , was a politician and statesman in the late Roman Republic, and a follower of the Stoic philosophy...

     are mentioned.
  • Lars Larsen's parents are said to have moved from Sweden to Kansas thanks to the Homestead Act
    Homestead Act
    A homestead act is one of three United States federal laws that gave an applicant freehold title to an area called a "homestead" – typically 160 acres of undeveloped federal land west of the Mississippi River....


Literary significance and criticism

  • The novel was inspired by the story of soprano Olive Fremstad
    Olive Fremstad
    Olive Fremstad was the stage name of Anna Olivia Rundquist, a celebrated Swedish-American opera diva who sang in both the mezzo-soprano and soprano ranges. -Background:...

  • Christopher Nealon has argued that Thea is more boyish than girlish. In the Panther Canyon episode, he links her rapport with Fred to Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
    Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick
    Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was an American academic scholar in the fields of gender studies, queer theory , and critical theory. Her critical writings helped create the field of queer studies...

    's theory of homosociality
    In sociology, homosociality describes same-sex relationships that are not of a romantic or sexual nature, such as friendship, mentorship, or others. The opposite of homosocial is heterosocial, preferring non-sexual relations with the opposite sex...


External links

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