“Chopsticks” is probably the world’s greatest one-hit wonder.
The waltz is the composer’s first and last published music.
(Yes, it’s a waltz).
The little tune that anyone can play is usually performed on piano (for example, this version, inspired by Franz Liszt).
It has even been performed by a full orchestra.
While it seems like something passed down from one generation to another, it was composed.
The tune was written in 1877 by a 16-year-old girl named Euphemia Allen, who called it “The Celebrated Chop Waltz.”
Her brother, Mozart Allen (yes, really – his brothers were named Haydn and Handel), helped publish it under the pseudonym Arthur de Lulli.
Page 3 of the music included instructions to:
“Play with both hands turned sideways, the little fingers lowest, so that the movement of the hands imitates the chopping from which this waltz gets its name.”
So no, the title of the piece has nothing to do with chopsticks you eat with.
A rather stuffy gentleman name Alfred V Frankenstein (I know!) wrote an article describing Chopsticks as more a parlor trick than a piece of music.
While Frankenstein refused to believe that Euphemia did more than arrange the piece, he couldn’t say who did write it.
Mozart and Euphemia, both still alive at the time of the article, refused to answer.
Despite the lasting success of “The Celebrated Chop Waltz,” neither Ms. Allen nor Arthur de Lilli ever published anything else.
It’s September 25th. Happy one-hit wonder day.
Via Mental Floss
Siobhan is a freelance writer, research addict and lover of twisted history. If you like horrible but amazing history, check out her website www.interesly.com or Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/interesly. Or you can reach her through www.siobhanoshea.com.