New Orleans: Gateway to the Americas

El Nopal, 1885

New Orleans' close relationship with its neighbors south of the border has never been limited to commerce. The city has long been enriched by the infusion of Latin and Carribean culture and customs. In 1885, following highly successful appearances at the World's Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition by Payen's Eighth Cavalry Mexican Band, New Orleans music publisher Junius Hart began to develop a "Mexican" series of piano transcriptions of the repertoire of the popular "Mexican Band." The arrangements in this series of sheet music, Hart advertised, were "all of that weird, sweet nature which characterizes the music of Mexico and have become justly popular." Many of the piano transcriptions in Hart's series were done by William Taylor Francis, including the one shown here -- "El Nopal (The Cactus)."
[Early New Orleans Sheet Music Collection]

Another interesting result is that you can listen in New Orleans to the music of the Spanish nations, which in many cases is inexpressibly beautiful. In Mexico, for example, there has been developed a school which combines, so far as I can see, the tendencies of the Spanish race on the one hand and of the Aztec and Tolteca on the other. This school has expressed itself in hundreds of songs, zarzuelas, dansas, masses, sonatas and operettas. Not more than a score of these have been heard in New York, but hundreds of them are household words in New Orleans. It would seem as if the love of melody decreases as you come north from the Gulf of Mexico, and reaches its smallest development when it encounters the northern tier of the states of the union.
[William Taylor Francis. Daily Picayune, January 2, 1890. Quoted in Jack Stewart. "The Mexican Band Legend--Part II." The Jazz Archivist, May, 1994]

Introduction | Aguardiente de caña, 1770 | Imports, 1822 | Price-Current, 1845 | Minatitlan, 1852 | Steamships, 1854
Cotton Exposition, 1884 | The Logical Point, 1885 | El Nopal, 1885 | Bananas, ca. 1919 | Mercurio, 1913
Cuyamel Fruit, 1917 | La Voz Latina, 1936 | Del Sud, 1938 | deLesseps S. Morrison, 1946
International House, 1950 | Garden of the Americas, 1957 | International Trade Mart, 1964
Coffee, 1965 | Victor H. Schiro, 1965