This is an excerpt from the story of John Durang, an actor on the American stage in New York in the late 1700s. Notation for the popular tune Durang’s Hornpipe is also included. It is clear that the tune was named for John Durang. As you can see below, the composition is credited to Mr. Hoffmaster, “a German Dwarf”. The grammatical errors in the text are as they appeared in Durang’s account.
Downer, Alan S., ed.; The Memoir of John Durang. Historical Society of York County/American Society for Theatre Research by University of Pittsburg Press. 1966
While I remained in New York, I applied my time in practice of dancing and music. The violin and the German flute were the chief instruments I made my study. I would sometimes divert myself with the octive, the flagelet, the French horn. I made an instrument of music called Pann’s -pipe made of reeds, which I learnd to play so well on that I could play and dance at the same time. In the grand pageant of Shakespeares Jubelee I used to dance before the Comic Muse, playing on this pipe. The novelty had a pleasing effect. I applied much of my time in the study of the drama and vocal parts.
Mr. Hallam gave me some idea of the “Dwarf Dance,” which by a little study I soon brought to perfection as I thought and inroducet to admiration, but I was convincet to the contrary when I repeated the dance in Philadelphia a year after. The body and the head of the Dwarf where tied above my hip, and the uperpard of my body and head where covered by a coloured paticoat gathered with my hands at the top of my head. In this concealed manner I would make my entrance. Dancing it one night I was deluded by the stage lights, which I took for the wing lights, my situation being almost blindfold. I made my exit over the spikes of the stage and orchestre. Three spikes entered my left thigh and calf, where I hung till Mr. Gibbon, our assistant tailor, extricated my leg from the spikes. I was in a swoon the whole time. I was set on my feet in the pit passage. I recovered from the swoon and did not feel my wounds but run round the theatre in to the…
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