William Sydney Mount

William Sydney Mount (1807 - 1868), painter and fiddler, is best known for his painting called The Banjo Player.  His many works are on display at the Long Island Museum in New York, where he lived.  

 

Mount painted people and landscapes with a realism he himself compared to Rembrant.  William enjoyed all aspects of country life -- its day-to-day activities made endless subjects for his paintings.  He and his brother played their fiddles at local dances.

 

Mount's many papers and letters include drawings for his own copyrighted violin, The Cradle of Harmony, as well as notation for tunes.  One violinist, Gilbert Ross, who actually played one of the original violins designed by Mount, made a CD with Mount's music.   Enjoy my arrangements for banjo of some of his music and the two slide show videos with tunes he played -- Pittsburgh Hornpipe, Uncle Ben's Favorites, Shep Jones Hornpipe, Musings of an Old Bachelor, and Setauket.  Tabs are posted on this site.

The following two slide-show videos showcase both William Sydney Mount's paintings and five pieces of music he notated for fiddle arranged here for banjo. Tablature for these arrangements are found under "MORE TABS."

Dance of the Haymakers (1855)

 

The people in this painting were identified by the fiddler's descendant.  The fiddler is Shep Jones, William Sydney Mount's cousin, and the hornpipe named for him is played in the second slide-show video as notated by Mount and learned from the playing of Gilbert Ross on one of Mount's own patented violins, The Cradle of Harmony, available through Smithsonian Folkways.

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