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The Moldavian Schottische / The Snowdrop Polka


These two tunes were played by Brass Monkey on their sixth album, Head of Steam. John Kirkpatrick commented in the album’s sleeve notes:

We begin with a tune which has popped up in the repertoire of a few traditional English musicians—Beatrice Hill, Dennis Crowther, and Stan Seaman, among others—but never with a proper name. What a delight to announce, therefore, that it appears with its full name and title, and in all its three part glory, in the manuscript book of Mr William Titley, of Pave Lane near Newport in Shropshire, who was certainly active, and in great demand, around 1860. Thanks are due to his descendant, Brian Tomkinson, the current owner, for copying his family tunes and passing them round to give them a new lease of life.

The Moldavian Schottische was composed by Charles Louis Napoleon d’Albert, a French person, born in 1809, but who lived in England from the age of seven onwards. He was a dance teacher and ballet master, who wrote a book on ballroom etiquette and composed innumerable popular waltzes, quadrilles, and polkas, of which the best known—The Sultan Polka— is now the tune to the nursery rhyme One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Once I Caught a Fish Alive.

The Snowdrop Polka, uncredited to any composer, peeps out from the Fourth Collection of Merry Melodies published in the 1880s by James S. Kerr in Glasgow. All four volumes are fabulous value, with over 440 tunes in each book.