E. Pique motherlode

Gurdonark dug up a motherlode of work by E. Pique, the arranger of Slightly on the Mash. He got it from an interesting source — a branch of Creative Commons for scientific work, called Science Commons.


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E. Pique revealed

My credits for the 1892 song Slightly on the Mash left the creators a mystery:

It was written by A. G. Send, arranged for guitar by the enigmatic E. Pique, and published by J. Oettl. I didn’t find any biographical info or other work by these people.

As it turns out, gurdonark managed to dig up more info:

I found this on Edward Pique:

And looking up that source, which is from 1892:

EDWARD PIQUE, one of the oldest professional musicians on the coast, was born in the city of Prague, Austria, July 15, 1815. He early developed marked talent for music, and later studied guitar music with efficiency. He achieved such marked success that he received the great compliment of being summoned to play before the Empress of Russia and Austria, also the King of Prussia and Saxony and other crowned heads. He came to the United States in 1848, and the following year was united in marriage with Miss Frances Weller, of England, and three years later, in 1852, they came to California. On the evening of the day of his arrival Mr. Pique played for the benefit of Catharine Sinclair, the wife of Edwin Forrest, the great tragedian. Mr. Pique was under engagement to Harry Meiggs, and many years later his wife opened Assembly Hall as a dancing school, which was then located on the corner of Post and Kearny streets, where the White House now stands. This was for many years one of the most prominent terpischorean halls in the city, and was conducted by Mrs. Pique with ability and financial success. When Mr. Pique first came to San Francisco he sang in the opera, also in many of the churches and in concerts, and was always ready to contribute his efforts and voice in behalf of worthy charities. He has done much in composition, and received the prize composition at the second annual prize competition of Fairbanks & Cole, of Boston. Mr. Pique has been engaged in teaching for over forty years, and is one of the oldest teachers on the coast. He has numerous testimonial letters from members of the profession and friends, all testifying of his worth.

So now we know a lot more about about how this song happened. The guy who converted the original score to a guitar part was a 70-year-old gentleman from Austria. He was an educated musician, a European who had moved to the United States 37 years before at the mature age of 33, and had been in California for 33 years. He was an established player, was probably in semi-retirement, and would have been a natural candidate for this job.

According to C.F. Martin & His Guitars, 1796-1873, Pique knew the founder of Martin Guitars, Martin himself. Pique was a music teacher in Philadelphia in 1850 and also arranged popular songs for guitar.

The Gold Rush started in 1848 and he moved to California in 1852, so his motivation might have been to get rich quick on gold. Given that he was still doing pickup musical work like guitar arranging in his old age, I imagine the career change didn’t work out.

He lived in San Francisco, which was near the location of the dedicatee “Pianissimo”, who lived around present-day Silicon Valley.

acoustic guitar audio guitar mymusic schottische sheet music sources

Slightly on the Mash

This is a recording of an 1885 song called “Slightly on the Mash”. It’s a happy number for drinking, dancing and goofing off.

Slightly on the Mash Schottische


It was

written by
A. G. Send,

arranged for guitar by the enigmatic
E. Pique,


published by
J. Oettl


I didn’t find any biographical info or other work by these people.

The performance is

guitar playing
by L. Gonze, a.k.a. me,
and the recoding was released on May 7, 2008.

The dedication on the sheet music is darn nice:

to my Esteemed Friend Pianissimo, Guadalupe, Cal.

What was going on in Guadalupe, California in 1885? Wikipedia says The Guadalupe Watershed was an area of intense activity during the California Gold Rush, with the quicksilver mines within Santa Clara County supporting the gold refinement process. Maybe Pianissimo was a musician who had gone west to strike it rich.


This song is a dance called a schottische. Per Wikipedia, Schottische was popular in Victorian era ballrooms (part of the Bohemian “folk-dance” craze) and left its traces in folk music of countries as distant as France, Spain (chotis), Portugal (choutiça), Italy and Sweden.

Musically this is an intricate little tune which feels like an evolutionary step on the way to ragtime and eventually jazz. Wikipedia says At the start of the 20th century in the Southern United States the schottische was combined with ragtime; the most popular “ragtime schottische” of the era was “Any Rags” by Thomas S. Allen in 1902.

If you want to dance along at home, it goes like this: step step step hop, step step step hop, step hop step hop step hop step hop. Posh dancers did it like this:

Knuckledraggers were probably more like this:

Playing along

I learned this song from sheet music at the Library of Congress. It’s not a beginner piece, but it’s pretty approachable.
The embedded images here are linked to full-size PDFs, so click through if you want a printout to learn from.
Here’s the cover sheet, which was printed in cheapo black and white:
slightly on the mash cover sheet
Here’s the part, which is a short one-pager:
slightly on the mash page 1

Free culture

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There is an Ogg Vorbis version of the audio file and an Ogg FLAC version.

There is code to embed a player for the song in another web page:

This page uses the hAudio microformat.
This recording is copyright 2008 by Lucas Gonze and released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States license. You are free to share or remix it as long as you give attribution and apply the same terms to works based on this one. If you need another license for some reason just contact me and we’ll arrange it.
You are welcome to link directly to any file I host, including MP3s. No need to host a copy to spare my bandwidth.
If you do a version of this and want a link here, let me know.